Tazio Secchiaroli (Rome 1925-1998) photographer, starts out as a messenger and factotum at the International News Service agency in Rome, and then becomes a photographer at Porry Pastorel’s V.E.D.O.; in 1955 he sets up his own photojournalism agency: Roma’s Press Photo. Between 1955 and 1960 he is an assault photographer and takes the most iconic pictures of the period of the dolce vita. Thanks to his scoops he meets Fellini and collaborates with him during the filming of La Dolce Vita. In 1962 he leaves Roma’s Press Photo, becomes a freelance still photographer on movie sets. He is always present on the sets of Federico Fellini and Sophia Loren, whose personal photographer he becomes from 1964 onwards, and he portrays the world of cinema behind the screen. For over 30 years he works for major film production companies. In the mid-eighties he retires from professional life; he dies on a summer night in 1998 in his home in Rome. Several exhibitions and books have been produced all over the world with his photographs.
The Original Paparazzi
On November 26, 1925, Tazio Secchiaroli is born in Rome, in the suburban area of Centocelle. He is the first child of parents from the Marche region. His father is master mason, his mother housewife; he has two younger sisters Lia and Isa.
In 1941 he takes his first photograph with a Kodak Retina 35 mm borrowed from his friend Sergio Strizzi. His father dies and he abandons his studies to work. He is a messenger in Cinecittà. An aunt gives him a present: a camera. He spends his free time taking pictures of the people in his neighborhood and of his friends.
1944-1951 He is a street photographer; he captures American soldiers on leave and tourists; in the summer he moves to the coast to take souvenir photos of beachgoers.
1951 He enters, introduced by Luciano Mellace, in International News Service agency as a factotum (preparation of the film, development, and sometimes assistant). At times he helps his sister who works in an X-ray laboratory.
1952 As a summer replacement for Mario Tursi, he begins to work at V.E.D.O. of Adolfo Porry Pastoral, founder of Italian photojournalism, where he learns the tricks of the trade. When Tursi returns from the holiday's Tazio stays and becomes one of the photographers of the agency.
1954 He buys his first Leica.
1955 He establishes with Sergio Spinelli, met at V.E.D.O., Roma’s Press Photo agency.
1955-1960 Usually Tazio works during the day to cover Roman news and city life filled with peddlers, petitioners, street performers, and priests holding a breviary. In the evening he moves to Via Veneto, looking for famous faces in nightclubs and in outdoor tables. He is a night owl and he doesn’t mind waiting for the early hours, when blood alcohol level increases and the inhibitions lower, to photograph film stars and jet-setting celebrities in compromising and undesirable situations. These are the most sought after pictures from the editors of tabloids, who often will publish his photo shoots in exclusive.
1956 He buys his first car, a FIAT 600: it becomes his mobile office.
1958 On the night of mid-August he pulls off three different photoshoots: on Anita Ekberg arguing with her husband, on Ava Gardner caught with Anthony Franciosa, and on Farouk, former king of Egypt, who attacks him because he does not want to be photographed in the company of some girlfriends.
It’s the climax of the new assault photography that will inspire Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.
In November the photographs of Aiché Nanà’s striptease at Rugantino make a splash and today have become a symbol of this period; the magazine L’Espresso that prints the pictures on the cover, is confiscated.
1959 His friendship and collaboration with Federico Fellini start; from then onwards he will always be on his film sets.
1961 In Moscow, with Alessandro Blasetti for the filming of the inquiry film, I Love, You Love, during a function at DomKino, he recognizes Bruno Pontecorvo and photographs him, giving visual proof of the physicist’s new life in the Soviet Union. The feature will be published exclusively by the magazine Epoca.
In 1961 following the scoop on Pontecorvo he understands that the world is rapidly changing and that he wants to continue to dream. He permanently leaves news photography to completely focus on the world of cinema and set photography.
1962 He leaves Roma Press Photo, becomes freelance. 1963 He marries Rossana, his first daughter Lucilla is born.
1963/64 During the filming of Marriage Italian Style, Marcello Mastroianni introduces him to Sophia Loren. The actress, seeing the pictures that Tazio has taken of her on the set, asks him to be her personal photographer. Secchiaroli accepts and becomes the diva’s visual biographer for over 20 years.
1963-1985 He is set, still, and backstage photographer. He is on the sets of the most important, Italian and international film productions. He is always where Loren is and ready to shoot for Fellini.
1966 He is in London for a few days on the set of Antonioni’s Blow-Up; he does a photo-reportage in central London attracted by the new generation that revolves around Carnaby Street.
1967 His second son David is born.
1969 In Ukraine and Moscow with De Sica, Tonino Guerra, Cesare Zavattini, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni for the film Sunflower, he doesn’t miss the chance to photograph street life in the Soviet Union and notice how youngsters wear jeans just like in London.
1979 His works are exhibited in the show Venezia’70. La Fotografia. And so he enters the history of photography.
1980 In Milan, at Palazzo Delle Stelline, his first solo exhibition.
1983 He no longer feels a creative force and finds that the world of cinema has changed too much, both in protagonists and in productions. He retires from professional life, except for photographing for a few years more Sophia Loren; he will follow Federico Fellini on set until his last film, The Voice of the Moon.
His first monograph of the series Great Photographers by Fratelli Fabbri is published.
1996 The gallery Photology presents his show “The Original Paparazzo”.
1985-1998 He participates in meetings with photographers and students, various solo and group shows are staged.
1998 He dies on the night between the 25th and 26th of July in his home in Rome. A few months later his monograph is published: Tazio Secchiaroli, dalla dolce vita ai miti sul set (Tazio Secchiaroli, from dolce vita to the legends of the set), edited by Diego Mormorio, a book for which he intimately participated.