Our story / The origins of Ayzoh!

The idea for Ayzoh! was born in 2008 in Acupé – a quilombo on the banks of the Rio Paraguaçu in the state of Bahia – by photographer Claudio Maria Lerario.

While working on a documentary about the intangible cultural heritage of the place – and its importance in generating social inclusion, but also in combating drug-related crime – Claudio became aware of the disparity between the goodness of their ideas and the resources available to communicate or defend them.

In fact, the scarcity of resources made their initiatives – useful for the small local community, but also rich in meaning for people of all latitudes – invisible in the face of the threat of a dominant, media-attractive culture with far more resources to spread its messages.

The idea was born to turn more than 20 years of experience – in reporting, advertising and international publishing – into a tool to be shared with small communities that are marginalized or made vulnerable by the processes of homogenization taking place everywhere in the world.

The idea came to fruition in 2009 in Ethiopia, largely thanks to the support of writer Angela Altieri McDonald. For many years, Ayzoh! operated as an informal and transnational collective of media, design, and social science professionals.

Ayzoh! today / The founders

Recently – after dozens of projects carried out in different parts of the world for small communities of all kinds – Ayzoh! took on its current organizational and legal structure. Ayzoh APS was founded in 2020 by Claudio Maria Lerario, Dorin Mihai and Giulia Zhang.

Claudio Maria Lerario

Professional photographer since 1992. He has worked in 50+ countries. He has contributed to more than 200 publications for publishing houses, cultural institutions, commercial companies and humanitarian organizations on four continents. He has no fixed residence and lives between Africa and Europe.

Dorin Mihai

Professional photographer specializing in reportage on the situations, needs and aspirations of small rural communities in his home country (Romania) and other parts of the world. His research focuses mainly on the impact of globalization and homogenization processes – taking place all over the world – on these communities.

Giulia Zhang

A graduate in Asian languages, Markets and Cultures, she has been a professional photographer since 2019. In parallel, she studies sociolinguistics with a special interest in minority or endangered languages.