Carmel Vitullo was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 16, 1925, and grew up in the small Italian community of Federal Hill. After graduating from Classical High School she attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and majored in painting. She then went on to pursue her other passion, photography. Carmel studied at the New York Institute of Photography, and became enthralled by the work of Henri Cartier Brisson, and learned the artistic importance of space and time. Her work was first displayed in “The Family of Man” exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York in 1955. Today, two of her photographs from the first Newport Jazz Festival remain in MOMA’s permanent collection. (View Vitullo's photographs from the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival here.) Carmel Vitullo's work has also been collected by the RISD Museum and is on display at a permanent installation of "The Family of Man" exhibit in Luxembourg.
Carmel captured a variety of people, neighborhoods, and events during her career as a photographer. Certainly, Carmel's photography immortalizes the historic beauty of an era that has now passed, but her work is as stylistically interesting as it is historically important. Active in the 1950s and 1960s, her style participates in a new snapshot aesthetic that was gaining popularity and status as high art at this time. Carmel's compositions were right in step with the movement, making use of visual patterns, capturing decisive moments, and highlighting the seemingly commonplace. The tender, intuitive, yet vivacious way that she approaches her subjects set her work apart. An interest in identity and human sentiments like joy, humor, curiosity, and even pain allow us to reach through space and time, connecting with faces and places of the past.