The Sound Of The Whispers

PhotographerGiovanni Capriotti
Prize2nd Place in Editorial / Photo Essay and Feature Story
Entry Description

Each working 20 hours a day, Dany and Natalie struggle to secure a stable future for their son Gaby, who was diagnosed with autism at 2. Now 24, the services he has received since childhood will end, letting the family alone in looking after a severely disabled adult man.


At the age of two, Gaby’s parents Dany and Natalie thought he was deaf. Every time they tried to talk to him, the toddler would look around disoriented. That’s when the family decided to seek medical help. It did not take long for the doctors to diagnose the child with autism, changing forever the life of the Desmeules. Three years after Gaby’s birth, the family was hit by an even worse event, the loss of their third child Mikael to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The infant was only four months old. Now 24, Gaby is a nonverbal autistic young adult. He attends the Centre Champagnat in Montreal, where he receives one-to-one assistance. Due to the budget cuts operated by the Quebec government, the current school year will be the last for him. Beginning in the summer of 2017 the Desmeules will have to take care of Gaby full time. Gaby’s parents Dany Desmeules and Natalie Larouche work two jobs. Roughly a year ago they ventured into an entrepreneurial project taking over a variety store. They open at 6:30 am and close at about 10:30 pm, 7 days a week. They take turns getting some rest during the day, and at night they deliver newspapers in Montreal. The Desmeules hope that through their sacrifices and exhausting lifestyle they will be able to give Gaby a stable future. Too often society forgets how children with disabilities eventually become adults fully depending on parents or other family members, as long as they are able or available to care for them.

About Photographer

Giovanni Capriotti was born and raised in Rome. After finishing high school he moved to Amsterdam and London attracted by the vibrant and creative 90s. Passion for photography has always been part of his life, although at the beginning he could not afford to buy a decent camera and instead was experimenting with polaroids and vintage models, such as the old Yashica that his granny found at the pension where she used to work. After a few months in the UK he enrolled in a photography BFA at London Communication College, which helped him to organize everything he had learned as a self taught photographer. Newly graduated, the mandatory national service called him back to his native Italy. After one year spent serving his country and two more on the road in Europe, he got a job with a major airline, which drastically increased his chances to travel worldwide. He eventually fell in love with documentary photography and over a decade of voyaging he was able to cover different global issues while being part of the Italian collective DD Project. Currently Giovanni, also a graduate of the Loyalist College Photojournalism Program (Dean's List), lives in Montreal with his wife and daughter. His independent work covers multiple issues across North America and the world, focusing on unique and intimate stories that often go unnoticed. Giovanni's photo essays have been featured in solo and collective exhibitions in Italy and the UK, as well as magazines and catalogs. He has shot for NGOs such as Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network. His photographs appears regularly in The Montreal Gazette and Postmedia Network newspapers such as The National Post, The Ottawa Citizen, The Vancouver Sun, The Edmonton Journal and The Province, while his clients list includes: The UNHCR, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, MacLean's Magazine, The Canadian Press, Sun Media/QMI Agency, The Manitoulin Expositor, The Manitoulin Recorder, Metro Rome, plus several worldwide print and online publications.