By Emily Purwin
Collegiate Staff Writer
When Filippo Tagliati was only 13, his mother gave him a gift that would later come to define his career: his first camera. “It wasn’t the best of cameras,” Tagliati said, “but it would do.” From then on, Tagliati took photos everywhere he went, not only capturing images of places and things that interested him, but of places that other people might be familiar with.
Tagliati was born and raised in Bologna, Italy. While growing up, photography had been a large part of his life; he would later go on to study engineering.
Later, Tagliati returned to school, but not to pursue engineering. In 2001, he earned his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Semiotics and Art History from the Univerista’ di Bologna. In 2004 he set off on an adventure to the United States.
After a long flight from his home of Italy, Tagliati landed in upstate New York. Settling in after a few months, he came to realize that New York was far too expensive. Being the adventurous type, Tagliati made the decision move on, and see what the rest of the US may have to offer.
Thinking over where he was going to live next, Tagliati began narrowing his options for the next prospective city. Chicago made the list, but just like New York, it too would be expensive.
After deep thought, he made up his mind and bought a plane ticket to Seattle. Tagliati, without a bed to sleep in, no job, and very little knowledge of the English language, continued his adventure to another unfamiliar city.
Tagliati arrived in Seattle in the evening and undertook the city roads with a map at hand. He admitted he was a quite confused. Before long though, a pretty, young local woman asked Tagliati if he needed directions. “She thought I was a tourist,” Tagliati said. Tagliati responded with a “yes,” and then confessed that he also needed a job and a place to live.
Kindly, the woman told him that there was a shelter nearby. She then informed Tagliati that the local university had a board full of job opportunities that he could look at in the morning.
Tagliati thanked the kind woman for her gracious help. But at the last minute, the young woman took out a small piece of paper and handed it to him. On it was her name and phone number. She told him she worked at a local pub and to give her a call the following week, and she may be able to find him a job there.
Tagliati walked to the shelter, happy that an American had helped him out in a time of need. He was amazed that after one night in Seatle he had gotten a girl’s number. Life was going to be great here.
Later that same week, Tagliati gave the woman a call. A few days after that call, Tagliati was hired as a bus boy at the local pub. He worked hard and learned a lot about American lifestyle, all with a camera at hand.
Following his moving and traveling to numerous cities in America, Tagliati finally settled in Arizona. He passed an American international exam designated by the United States as a requirement for an immigrant to attend college. Tagliati attended Arizona State University, and in 2007 earned his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, more specifically, Photography. From here, not only did his English improve, but his passion of taking pictures blossomed.
As years passed, Tagliati’s photography skills greatly increased. Travelling has always been an important part of his life. “I started traveling at the age of 17,” Tagliati said. Travel has played an intricate role in shaping his photography. Over the years, he has traveled many places throughout Europe, the United States, and has even traveled to Tokyo. Travel has played an intricate role in shaping his photography.
Tagliati says he loves to photograph urban landscapes and architecture. “It’s not just the middle of nowhere,” said Tagliati, speaking about his photography. “It’s a location where people would want to go.”
Throughout his life, Tagliati always seems to have a camera on hand just in case he needed to “capture the moment.” He has a passion for both photography and film and has put them together to create beautiful images for viewers to enjoy.
After being offered a job in Grand Rapids, Tagliati is now the Assistant Professor of Photography at GRCC. He has mastered his photography skills, but is always learning new techniques. After he accepted the job, his career flourished. Teaching classes such as “Digital 1” and “Digital Application,” he has helped students interested in the art of photography improve their skills.
“I have spent the last two years working mainly on video,” said Tagliati. He produced “The River Project,” which was put on display for the 2011 ArtPrize Fulton Street venue. “The River Project” was a video integration of still photography and film. It captured the Grand River and downtown Grand Rapids through the changing of the seasons, showing videos and photos of one season against the contrast of another. Approximately 35,000 people were able to view his work of art.
After travelling many places and following his dreams, Tagliati said, “I always tell my students to try something new.”