Born in Piacenza, Italy, Carlo Bavagnoli (1932-present) was heading for a career in law when he met the storied LIFE photographer David Douglas Duncan at the Milan opera house, La Scala. Duncan explained his craft to Bavagnoli, who was fascinated by this “new means of expression, new means by which I might see the world.” Bavagnoli first trained his camera on the streets of Rome, and his neo-realistic post-war pictures were the frozen-frame equivalents of Rossellini’s films, and they often graced the pages of the Italian journal Epoca. Whenever Bavagnoli felt he had gotten something particularly right—his shots of the laughing Luisa Pierotti, for instance—he went to the editors in LIFE’s Rome bureau; he finally joined the magazine’s staff in 1964. Since then, he has also made television documentaries. Hearkening back to his fateful meeting at La Scala, he specializes in films on classical musicians.
—Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers