Listen, you’re a liar if you say you’ve never fallen into the trap of scrolling through social media and accidentally losing an hour of your life that you’ll never get back. Last night, I found myself winding down from work by watching somebody cutting kinetic sand for an embarrassing length of time, followed by a video recipe for a jiggly Japanese cheesecake (their words, not mine) that I plan to neither make nor consume.
My dad describes this sort of mindless screen fodder as “chewing gum for the eyes” and that’s exactly what your brain needs from time to time - a bit of harmless bubble-blowing. Sometimes though, this aimless scrolling takes you down an unexpected path of enlightenment or inspiration that makes you sit up straight, blink your eyes clear and pay closer attention. That’s exactly what happened to our resident podcast host, Jake when he stumbled across the fascinating photography of Dino Serrao on the LADbible Facebook page.
“I started to realise that my real skill and my real passion was people”
So, in our latest instalment of real life stories from real world people, we take a look at life through the lens of internet-famous photographer, Dino Serrao. Originally from a small town in southern Italy called Calabria but speaking to us from Sydney, Australia, Dino is on a mission “to make the invisible visible” through his phenomenal street portraiture. Before we delve into that though, let us first divulge a little more insight into why this fascinating visionary decided to embark on the nearly 10 thousand mile journey from his hometown in Europe to the continent Down Under…
It was 2012 when Dino first landed in Australia. With him be brought a flair for photography, a background in entertainment and PR, a ravenous appetite for new cultures and fresh experiences, and a working holiday visa. Employers weren’t exactly receptive to his temporary status though and so finding a sustainable income within the field of photography transpired to be pretty much impossible. Dino decided to down-tools the photography for a while as a result and embarked on a career in hospitality, eventually managing three big restaurants in the city of Sydney.
His success down the diverted path into the world of hospitality inspired a moment of reflection for Dino - a moment in which he marvelled in disbelief at how far he had come. Full of gratitude but once again feeling the pull towards another calling, Dino explains how at this point in this life, he “started to realise that [his] real skill and [his] real passion was people”. The entertainment, the socialising, the human connection - that’s what he loved most about his foray into the hospitality industry and so set about finding a way to marry this with his true passion for photography.
“I want to share stories; I want to share the potential that everyone has in this life through my photography - and let’s start with the beauty of people”
Flash forward to today and you’ll find Dino on the streets of Sydney, snapping incredible portraits of people in the street, people he is drawn to for their raw, human normalcy. I’m personally not sure how I would feel if a stranger armed with a camera was to ask to take my photograph so I was intrigued to hear Dino’s answer to Jake’s probings about how he approaches his subjects. He told us how he makes sure to take a soft, gentle tact - never pushy and never forceful - striking up a simple conversation to start with. He then explains to them more about what he does and for the most part, this conversational connection leads to a series of images in which his subject transforms into a visibly more joyous and confident being in front of his eyes.
Okay, so we know how Dino does what he does at this point but next, we wanted to explore more about the why - why does he approach complete strangers in the streets of Sydney with a camera? Well, it seems it’s all about sharing stories of ordinary people and helping them see the extraordinary within them - a mantra which feels all too familiar with us lot here at ONEOFTHE8. “I want to share stories; I want to share the potential that everyone has in this life through my photography”, Dino tells us, adding how he believes this should start with highlighting the beauty of people.
“There are two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it”
Through avenues such as the media and social media, we are made to feel insignificant and insufficient, relentlessly. Every day, subliminal messages tell us that we’re not rich enough, attractive enough or far along enough in life, and so we end up “chasing fake dreams that someone else has distilled in your mind”. Through his work, Dino wants to encourage a shift in people’s focus - a movement which pushes negative influences into the inaudible background, making way for more room to believe that you are indeed, good enough.
Dino is on a mission to send out “a world-wide message to everyone to let them understand that we have to break this stereotype of beauty, first all, and second, give confidence to people in their everyday routine”. He gushes about how fantastic it is to see that, when given half the chance and even a small nudge out of their comfort zones, his subjects start to gain confidence and enjoy life that little bit more, reassured by the fact that somebody values them enough to place them as a protagonist in their photograph.
Dino talks in detail about how zealously he champions the concept of squashing social convention and instead, writing your own narrative and taking autonomy of who you really want to be. A practice which he himself is perfect living proof of.
“You can be a protagonist of something really big, which is your story”
As with all ONEOFTHE8 guests, we asked Dino where he gets his inspiration from and for somebody with such a colourful and creative mind, it came as no surprise to hear that he couldn’t pinpoint just one main source. If there had to be one though, it would have to be movies, Dino tells us, exhilarated by the idea that even the most spectacular storylines have some roots in real life. “You can be a protagonist of something really big, which is your story” - the star of your very own movie, in whatever way you choose to direct it.
During our conversation, Dino described how his “whole journey and life” is inspirational to him but also how he does often finds himself motivated by successful people and how they’ve managed to transform themselves from ordinary to extraordinary. If we had to take a punt on it, we’d say Dino himself is well on the way to breaking through that cocoon, on his own metamorphic journey to something rather extraordinary. This won’t be the last we hear of this guy, that’s for sure.
To see more of Dino’s incredible street photography, make sure you’re following him on Instagram @dino.serrao. For behind the scenes footage captured by his trusty accomplice, follow @dino.serrao on TikTok.
To hear more about Dino’s story and how he came to be a coveted content creator, catch up with his episode on the ONEOFTHE8 podcast.