I remember hanging out with my father in his dark room when I was a little kid. Casting that funny negative light onto paper, then the paper into the developer, where like some kind of magic, the image would appear. He would let me mix up the prints in the circular washing tank with my hand. Over fifty years later, and despite knowing the cold, functional chemistry that makes a photograph, I still think it's magic.
Hello, my name is Paul Verizzo, a lucky kid who grew up (??) to be a lucky guy still working with photographs. There is something about 1930's and 1940's art and photography that I inexplicably love. I call that era "The Golden Age of B&W." Maybe it was the bursting of human spirit in Art Deco, of technologies. Maybe it's knowing that in the depth of The Great Depression, the soul found so much hope when it shouldn't have. Maybe I died young in 1945 and got recycled........
My grandfather, Benno Verizzo, served as a Photographer's Mate in the Austrian Navy before World War I (yes, they had a navy, ported in Italy!) He left a photographic trail as his ship traversed the Suez Canal and steamed on to Japan. After discharge, he returned to Cairo. We still have the license granted by the British occupiers allowing him to set up a photo studio there. When the war broke out, he found himself in enemy territory and had to leave rapidly and undercover. Winding up in New York City, where his wife-to-be already was, also stranded from Austria. Benno was a professional photographer in NYC and Asbury Park, NJ, serving select clientele looking for the very best. My grandfather was an artist in numerous media and could speak about the same number of languages. His photographs were selected for the new Rolleiflex magazine and other notable publications. My grandmother, Olga, helped with studio work and modeled.
Meanwhile, back in the NYC studio, my father Walter used his inherited genes to do things like make a dye transfer print when he was in high school. The science fair judges deemed that a student couldn't have done it on his own, but he did. Several of his photographs were published in some major publications of the day like Minicam. He became a Photographer's Mate in the United States Coast Guard for most of WWII. He served on an illegal "Q ship", the Bighorn, and on a landing craft carrier, the "Lucky" (Samuel ) Chase. He accumulated hundreds of photographs of military life on shore, in the North Atlantic, and the Pacific. After the war he supported our family with general wedding and commercial photography for a number of years. And that's where and when his oldest, me, got infected with "light writing." My mother helped with the studio work (sounding familiar?), modeled, and used her fine arts background to do photo oil work.
I have never have been a professional photographer in the income sense. My money went the other direction! Just a great hobby and a practice of the love of the esthetic. It was while reviewing my father's collection in the spring of 2007 that I realized what an asset we held. Not just monetarily, but as something to share with others.
With every passing year I appreciate more the gifts my family gave me....to "see" more than most do, to cherish the simple beauties everywhere, the importance of the arts, the encouragement in these directions.
My accomplishments are much more modest than my predecessors. A few shots have been used in books. My work photographing matters pertinent to "The Beats" (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady, etc.) and Route 66 have been great door openers to opportunity, meeting interesting and often historical people, and not the least, given me incredible pleasure.
A Denver Beat Photo Tour
Photos of the Kerouac Gas Station in Longmont, CO
Jack Kerouac's Last House, St. Petersburg, FL
Neal Cassady Sr. Gravesite
Route 66, The California Desert
Some of my photos that I like