Vincenzo Pietropaolo is a documentary photographer based in Toronto, where he immigrated as a child with his family. Self taught, he became active in photography in 1970, documenting the people of his newly adopted city. He attended York University and University of Toronto before he interrupted his studies to pursue a career in city planning. After a distinguished career of 15 years as a town planner with the City of Toronto, in 1991 he returned to his earlier love and passion – social documentary photography. He has since worked as a full time independent photographer, with specialties in photojournalism, documentary photo essays, architectural photography (large format), corporate portraits, annual reports, and landscape photography.
Vincenzo has distinguished himself as a photographic bookmaker, mixing photographs and his own original writing. He has published and edited over a dozen books, and numerous other publications, including seven monographs of personal work, and has received numerous awards and grants. His work on cities includes the books Kensington and Making Home in Havana, and a work-in-progress on a book about photography and architecture in Toronto.
His work has been featured in about 100 solo and group exhibitions, in North America, Latin America, and Europe. He has also produced extensive photo essays on workers across Canada, seasonal migrant farm workers from Mexico, and the Caribbean, cities in Italy, religious ritual, architecture, historical preservation, and a variety of social justice issues such as refugees, disadvantaged youth, disabilities, etc.
He is particularly interested in cities, and has spent considerable time documenting street life and architecture in Toronto, New York City, Havana, Mexico City, and several cities in Italy. His photographs of Toronto were selected to illustrate a landmark exhibition of Jane Jacobs’s seminal book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, held at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Toronto. He recently lectured on Toronto as the annual Leo Srole speaker at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.
Vincenzo has taught part time at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, York University, and Seneca College (Toronto), and has also been invited to give lectures and workshops in many schools, universities and institutions – in Canada, Italy, Mexico and the United States. He is a Fellow of the Iacobucci Centre for Italian-Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto. He recently taught a master workshop to photo artists with disabilities, which led to an exhibition and a digital book, Toronto: Street Level. In addition to writing for his own books, he writes occasionally for magazines and journals.
In a major feature of his work, Canadian Geographic Magazine called him “one of Canada’s pre-eminent documentary photographers”.