Following His Truth, Robert Presutti Finds Soul
STORY BY Vicky Victoria
Published: November 18, 2013
After having had a long successful career with photo legends Deborah Turbeville and Mary Ellen Mark, photographer Robert Presutti went out on his own and began a new journey. The truth that he discovered is that publishing is not what it use to be. Few and far between, magazines accept soulful photos and deep stories that not only expose our society, but actually are a positive impetus in making our culture richer. Instead, fast food publishing has become the norm, and Robert’s photos which expose the truth and soul of his subjects are something our present culture has a hard time accepting or appreciating. His fortune changed however, by following his truth, when serendipitous encounters brought him assignments of a lifetime.
After realizing the culture in New York City began to quickly dive off the side of the proverbial cliff, at the end of the last decade, Robert accepted an assignment in the Republic of Georgia, a small country in Eastern Europe that has since become something of a second home to him, to photograph a country side convent managed by nuns who lived, worked, and produced off the land. As destiny would have it, the mother superior's views were considered radical by the mainstream in her church, so they sent her to oversee this convent in the countryside, where they thought she would not be such a strong influence. Instead she turned the convent into a successful business known worldwide that produces, markets, and sells goods she and the other master level educated nuns make from the land. This experience became a megaphone allowing her voice and views to become not only louder, but known by more people near and far.
A year later while at dinner with a group of friends, Robert met a representative of the Colombian Trade Commission who had been interviewing photographers for five years in the hopes to find the one who could understand and connect with the natives Indians in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. The Indians in the region did not want any influence of the outside world or the ‘white man’ as they were fighting to preserve their culture and beautiful land from development. The representative insisted that her search had ended after meeting Robert and that he was the right man for the job.
Rural, simplistic, and hardworking- “life like in the time of Columbus” - is how Robert summarizes in the most simplistic form the journeys he ventured on during these life changing assignments. When he arrived back to New York City after both experiences, it took him months to readjust to the excess found all around. The non-stop commercialism, lack of value towards art and books, and the need to consistently fill our lives with more and more stuff that one can only obtain through the Almighty Dollar. Robert emphasizes how success in our culture, especially in the city of New York, is mainly measured by monetary means and void of passion. Passion. The passion of doing what you love, and not only what pays well. Passion to find beauty in even one small area in the person next to you. Passion to value and cherish the things you have in your life and not those which you do not have. It was the emptiness of soul and passion in today’s society that lead Robert to venture out, and in turn, allowed him to find his truth.
Maybe it is his southern Italian roots calling him back home, to his new found appreciation of simplicity, meaningful, and hardworking way of life, but this discovery has lead him to be happier and more fulfilled than ever.
“To have a fulfilling life you have to have passion in you and without passion you have no life. You can have all the money you want, but without passion you have nothing. People are empty. They put their passion aside and go after what is going to give them a comfortable life. But you go home and you find yourself frustrated. Is that a comfortable life? It is so unfortunate how our society over values material things.”
“People still are not opening their eyes about what is happening. We don’t have to live a life like the Indians, but we can slow down a bit. They live in harmony and peace. We are living in the dark, and more than ever, we need an awakening.”
By harnessing our collective energies we are moving through the darkness, but only by being true to ourselves, will we find our way into the light.
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