Polidori was born in 1951 in Montreal, Canada, to a French Canadian mother and a Corsican father. He moved to the United States when he was ten and arrived in New York in 1969, where he got a job as an assistant to a filmmaker Jonas Mekas at the Anthology Film Archives, producing a number of avant-garde films in the early 1970s. In 1980 he received an M.A. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and subsequently turned his attention to still photography. He has been living in Paris and New York City since 1987. He is listed as a staff photographer with The New Yorker magazine and makes frequent contributions to other magazines such as Vanity Fair. In 2009 Polidori became an American citizen.
For aerial photographs, Polidori uses a large format custom-designed Kipp Wettstein camera to record his photographs.
Polidori's works have been seen in many mediums, from the New Yorker to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The high level of detail allows the viewer to question things more and more as well as still be touched by the mood of the works. Due to the nature of the modern camera lens, the analytical sense of his images comes from the pre-Renaissance and Renaissance perspectives.
|“||When images are soft, they just remain evocative, or in your imagination. You get a mood, and it remains on the emotional level. The viewer has to put more of him or herself into it. When there is more detail, it’s like that old expression: There’s no fiction stranger than reality. Reality will compose the most extreme paradoxes and contradictions and adjacencies, which can’t be understood.||”|
While much of Polidori's work is seen as straightforward architectural and urban photography, some of it has aroused controversy in blogs, especially his photographs taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A photograph of a dead victim in his own bed is strongly criticized by New Orleans photographer William Greiner. And further controversy arose in both the New Orleans press as well as a number of photo commentary blogs, when a number of his photographs of Katrina devastation were used commercially in an antismoking campaign in Brazil.
- Points Between... Up Till Now (2010) 192pp
- Parcours Muséologique Revisité (2009) 744pp
- After the Flood (2006) 333pp
- Fotografie: Portfolio (2006)
- Metropolis (2005) 128pp
- Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl (2003) 112pp
- Havana (2001) 160pp
- Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis (2001)
- The Levant: History and Archaeology in the Eastern Mediterranean by Pierre-Louis Gatier, Robert-Louis Gatier, Eric Gubel, and Philippe Marquis (2000)
- Brasilia de 0 a 40 anos by Todd Eberle, Joaquim Paiva, and Robert Polidori (2000)
- Libya: The Lost Cities of the Roman Empire by Antonio Di Vita, Ginette Divita-Evrard, Lidiano Bacchielli, and Robert Polidori (1999)
- Chateaux of the Loire Valley by Jean-Marie Perouse De Montclos and Robert Polidori (1997)
- Sites Greco-Romaines de la Triploitane et Cyrenaique (1997)
- Versailles by Robert Polidori and Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos (1991)
Solo public exhibitions
Polidori's photographs have been shown in a number of galleries, including the Edwynn Houk, Pace/McGill and Robert Miller Galleries in New York City, Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, Flowers-East in London, several in Paris, Sundaram Tagore Gallery , Mary Boone Gallery , and many others.
- Robert Ayers (September 23, 2006), Robert Polidori, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-28
- William Greiner, "What’s Wrong With This Picture?" Greiner's blog, 22 September 2006.
- "Outdoor Lions Winners 2007", describing the ads; "Polidori Katrina Photos Used in Anti-Smoking Campaign?" (blog entry); Amy Stein, "National disaster as visual metaphor" (blog entry); "Robert Polidori's Katrina/Stop Smoking Ads" (blog entry); "What Are You Smoking"(blog entry); "Robert Polidori defends his post-K decisions - Times-Picayune".