mariano doronzo, photography, nottingham

The story of Mariano Doronzo and his new life, his photography and Nottingham

Leaving behind the idyllic Italian town of Barletta, his family and friends, Mariano Doronzo conquered loneliness, language barriers and a new life through the lens of his old Praktica film camera. Joe Locker speaks to Mariano, to learn more about his new life and inspiring photography of Nottingham and its people.

The sun glistens across the picturesque port of Barletta, and Mariano has just completed a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Bari. With a job lined up as an Engineer, Mariano’s future seems to be set in stone.

However, shortly after graduating, Mariano made the decision to move to Britain after years of longing for change, and begin a new life – with creative arts playing a central role in his will to overcome the many hurdles.

Mariano Doronzo, photography, nottingham

“I remember with my parents, I was trying to avoid talking to them very often, to start thinking in English. This was probably my loneliest moment, so writing was good for me and photography got me out.”

Mariano Doronzo


Mariano arrived in Nottingham in 2014, after some time living in Bristol. He travelled over from Italy with just £660 to his name.

“I’d been waiting for that moment for so long, so when I finished University I said no matter what, it is the time. I am going to do what I’ve been dreaming of forever.

“I decided to finish University because I wanted to close the chapter and start a new one because I knew if I dropped out, that kind of feeling of failure would affect my life.

“So I decided, it was hard, but to finish and start a brand new life.”

Mariano arrived without a great understanding of the English language. He cut off all ties to his family, Italian films, books, music and radio.

“When I moved, I was so determined and driven to learn English.

“I remember with my parents, I was trying to avoid talking to them very often, to start thinking in English. This was probably my loneliest moment, so writing was good for me and photography got me out.”

In Nottingham, Mariano landed a job at The Dragon pub on Long Row. He was able to work in the midst of the bustling city centre, getting to know people and a new environment for which he began his extraordinary photographic journey.

Mariano stumbled into the world of photography unintentionally when a friend from Paris, Clara Antonelli, gave him an old Praktica film camera as a way of getting closer to people. A “trick to get rid of the initial barriers when meeting new people”, Mariano emphasised.

Mariano Doronzo, photography, nottingham
Photo credit: Mariano Doronzo

“It’s not just about photography, it’s about a connection.”

Mariano Doronzo

With no idea that he would eventually be hosting his very own exhibition a few years down the line, Mariano set out with his camera to jump into the lives of new people and a new environment.

“When you live in a place for a long time, everything is so normal, so you are not curious.

“England was so different. I was different. I mean, I was opening myself to this new experience, this new country and culture.

“Eventually the photo was just an excuse to meet new people. Sometimes it’s just a conversation, but a few times I’ve ended up being friends with these people.

“It’s not just about photography, it’s about a connection.”

Mariano Doronzo, photography, nottingham
Photo credit: Mariano Doronzo

Mariano began his journey at the Photo Parlour in Nottingham, a photo and film development facility which aims to keep the traditional practices of photography alive. These traditional practices revolve around taking photos on an old-school analogue film camera.

Dan Wheeler, who owns the Photo Parlour, explained how Mariano worked incredibly hard to learn this new and increasingly rare type of photography.

“Mariano has been coming here since he arrived in Nottingham, and we got him up to speed with all the techniques of printing in the darkroom.

“He literally lived in the darkroom since he started to print.”

Mariano Doronzo, photography, nottingham
Photo credit: Mariano Doronzo

Living and working in Nottingham, Mariano took hundreds of photos on his trusted Praktica, photos that centred on the livelihood of people, community and ways of life in the city and particularly Sneinton, where Mariano has lived for the last six months.

Always printing in black and white from a film camera, some of Mariano’s prints consist of remarkably emotional portraits of people from every walk of life and shots of bus stops and barbershops that offer a deeper perspective on Nottingham.

Outlining the significance of a film camera, Mariano said:

“Analogue is more real, because you don’t have a chance to look back on the picture that you’ve been taking, and you’ve only got around 12 to 36 shots on one film.

“It gives a better idea of what reality is, and sometimes you don’t know what the prints are going to look like until further down the line, once they’ve been developed in the darkroom.

“And that’s it, that’s reality, you can’t really go back.”

Banishing his loneliness through the lens of his Praktica camera, Mariano met many people and made many friends since arriving in 2014.

Those friends, old and new, helped further push Mariano into the limelight. Using money from a crowdfunding campaign, Mariano set up a week long exhibition on November 10 at the Photo Parlour.

Dan Wheeler said: “I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the Midlands that does this, as people begin to use digital camera’s more, it’s becoming a super rare commodity.”

Beautiful white-washed walls, cold beers and 60 of Mariano’s stunning prints graced the Photo Parlour, and they were sold for just £20 each. People began to buy the prints half an hour before the exhibition formally opened.

Mariano’s girlfriend, ‘B’ Kristiansen, whom he met at the Dragon, said:

“He’s so amazing and I think this is just the beginning for him, it’s a true tribute to Nottingham, and the exhibition is just the end of this chapter.

“He’s taken and printed at least 500 photos over three years, and 60 are on display here.

“The man just shoots!”

Creative arts played a central role in Mariano’s journey out of loneliness and into the life of a prominent photographer in Nottingham, reiterating that he is “always reading and writing.”

As a man of many talents, he has even published his very own poetry book, titled ‘Echoes of my time’.

Mariano said: “Reading, photography and writing are good to compensate for your sense of loneliness.

“I like to think reading, like when I’m reading poetry about loneliness, is sometimes like having a conversation with your best friends.

“Sometimes reading and writing is just for pleasure, to find an escape from the daily routine.

“But sometimes it’s more about expanding your vision to understand people and yourself, and it makes you realise that what you are feeling is universal.”

By Joe Locker

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