It was an evolution for Tugnoli to make a career doing this kind of work.
“I think at the beginning when I started photographing, I think it was like an ideology – it was like a political tendency into my photography that I think is kind of gone, but it was also an excuse to see these places with my own eyes."
“I love storytelling and that’s a big part of my passion -- it’s really about the image making. I love images, I love making images and I love photographs and a lot of it is around the image and what an image can do.”
Who are some of the photographers you look to for inspiration?
Tugnoli, who will be 40 in September, sounds apologetic when he mentions the father of photojournalism.
“I know I sound cheesy, but I really like Henri Cartier-Bresson.”
“Cartier-Bresson was a great inspiration. I saw what could be done simply with a camera and careful observation,” Tugnoli said. “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I liked his images. Then I realized that he was looking at the lines and the shapes in the frame, and he was able to build these really structured images in an instant.”
Do you consider yourself self-taught?
“I am self-taught. I’ve never been to (photography) school. I did Eddie Adams Workshop in 2016, but that was it,” he said.
Asked if he has a favorite image from the Pulitzer entry, he speaks about the one that I am also drawn to.
“The woman in the door … I really like the fact that the image was used for the front page article and it’s not really the usual photojournalism kind of image you would run on the front page. … You don’t really see clearly that it’s a refugee camp – it looks more clean than what you would see in a refugee camp and that’s why I like it.”
“In photojournalism, we sometimes deal with a preconceived way of representation,” Tugnoli said. “We have certain images that we produce over and over again, like the militiaman or the refugee. And we feel there are ways to represent them because we saw how the award-winning images did. So it is hard to move on, and really look at the people in front of you and show them for who they are.”
Tugnoli has worked independently his whole career and being able to work with The Washington Post photo editors has been a privilege.
“MaryAnne Golon (director of photography) makes sure she’s there for you and that she can help you and that makes you feel that somebody has your back,” he said.
“It’s important to say that it was an effort of the whole team – Olivier Laurent and MaryAnne – it was a huge story and I had the great privilege to be a part of this project.” ■