Christopher Pillitz

Growing up in Argentina my birthplace, three things shaped my adult life: boarding school, the open “Pampa”, the savannah hinterland to the west of Buenos Aires city and cinema. After my arrival in London and my completion of a Hotel Management degree which saw me don a morning suit and aprons and serve room service to the likes of Prince Hassan of Jordan and Henry Kissinger at two of London’s most prestigious hotels. I decided against my parent’s will, to leave the trappings of the hospitality industry for a far more unpredictable and challenging existence. Photojournalism beckoned. Cinema and politics had shaped my early life and my very first story proposal to London’s Observer and Sunday Times Magazines was a look at Argentina one year after the Falklands war. The Observer gave me my very first taste of telling a story through pictures. I was completely electrified and captivated by the opportunity this gave me to use a camera as a passport to explore the world and travel. Over the past 35 years this is exactly what I have done. In these intervening years I have had the good fortune to work in some 90 + countries exploring all manner of subjects, from the political, to the environmental, the social to the hedonistic, from the scintillatingly uplifting to the down right depressing. Seeing the best of humankind to the worst.  It has been a riveting journey of learning and discovery filled with surprises, heart-stopping moments of disappointment, elation, thrill. A voyage filled with poetry and grit, awash with emotional resonance and delight.

Shortly after my breakthrough stories for The Observer and Sunday Times magazines (London), I travelled to Vietnam to explore the country 10 years after the ending of the American lead war. It was a spine tingling experience for me, a young man whom until that time had had limited international exposure and whom had been fascinated by the conflict throughout the 70’s and avidly read all about it through my dad’s subscription to Time magazine. Little did I imagine then that I would eventually travel to the country to report about it, for none other then Time magazine. It was a watershed moment.

Thereafter and buoyed by the success and exposure that that story brought, as well as a growing confidence, I continued to work principally for the Sunday Times and Observer Magazines into the 1990’s, followed on in particular, with a long standing collaboration with Germany’s GEO and Stern Magazines, which continues to this day. For these latter magazines I have travelled and reported on a very broad diversity of subjects worldwide, tending to work not on the ground breaking “big” stories of the day, but those often under reported or off the media’s radar screen all together. This allowed me time to develop and explore the chosen subject in greater depth. In conjunction with my editorial commissions during the 90’s I dedicated 5 years to document Brazil’s beach and body culture, which explored the hedonistic behaviour of this sun seeking fun loving country, culminating in the publication of Brazil Incarnate (Edition Stemmle, Atlántica and Network Photographers, 2000), with an introduction and preface by author Paul Theroux and Brazil’s pre-eminent musical ambassador Caetano Veloso. At the time it was supported by multiple travelling exhibitions across Europe, in addition to being widely published across most of the world’s leading current affairs magazines.

In more recent years, 2006-08, I have been commissioned by British publisher (Dorling Kindersley) to work on three large format travel and architectural books in which I journeyed across China and India, completing the trio with an intimate look, both architectural and people based, on the inner workings of the Vatican.

In 2014 Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup. To pay tribute I published Brazil The Beautiful Game (Prestel), which became the culmination of an intermittent 15 year, multi – journey exploration of football culture across the country to mark Brazil’s hosting of the event. For Brazilians, football is not so much the national game, more the stuff of life itself. It is a celebration of life and death. From collective jubilation to despair, it’s a game that taps into the psyche and the mood of an entire nation, perhaps more then anywhere else on earth. My exploration was an attempt to understand yet another pillar of what makes Brazil tick. In addition to the book, it was published across 40 of the world’s leading magazines publications.

Parallel to this work, large-scale global advertising commissions have continued for the likes of Shell, HSBC, Canon, GSK, Syngenta, Vodafone amongst others.