Mattia Panunzio

The Unexpected

I felt as though I was losing too many experiences. Time was passing inexorably. Everything I had hoped for was going up in smoke.

I first began surfing at 22 years old and, ever since, Australia had always existed in my imagination as the epitome of all that I loved about being in the water. I saw it as a place where nature dominated, where the sea and the sky would flow to an endless blue horizon, and every day could be spent in the waves and the sun. Ever since, this country had become my dream, a place of limitless potential, hope and happiness.

Born and raised in Rome, Italy, I made the decision late last year to leave everything behind me to seek a new life on the other side of the world. I quit my job, left my family and friends, and dove headfirst into the unknown. I strongly believe that to cultivate new ideas as a photographer, you have to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone, feeding your curiosity and imagination with new surroundings and challenges.

My time in Australia moved through the natural adversity that comes with such a significant relocation, as well as witnessing the devastation of the black summer, and then came the month of March. The news coming from my family in Italy was worrying, and the virus was rapidly becoming a serious issue throughout the world. After a couple of weeks, Australia was put into lockdown. I didn’t receive business calls anymore. Suddenly the fantastic days full of enthusiasm I was living changed to uncertainties about today and tomorrow. I felt trapped without the slightest control over the situation. Soon after, the fear arrived - was my overseas experience coming to an abrupt end?

Time was passing inexorably. Everything I had hoped for was going up in smoke.

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