WARLEOPARDS.COM greatly enjoys the work of photographer, Edward Donato. The beauty, and complex design, sets the work higher from even some of the most critically acclaimed photography in the medium. It was wonderful to sit down and have a conversation with the talented artist/ photographer. We met at a bungalow, over looking the pool, at the Chateau Marmont, on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
WL: First of all I noticed the beautiful vintage Triumph motorcycle outside, is that yours?
ED: Yes, Restoring vintage motorcycles is another passion of mine. I 've been riding since I was nine.
WL: At what age did you first pick up a camera?
ED: Around the same age, nine. My father was a missionary, who used photography to document his work. By the time I was fifteen or sixteen I was developing film and printing. I shot everything I thought was interesting, from portraits to various landscapes, and culture. I knew I wanted to live the life of a photographer. Perhaps a lonely existence, I thought. But I was committed to it.
WL: Has it been a lonely existence for you?
ED: No, not at all. Photography has been very exciting and filled with action. Sometimes tranquil, but never lonely.
WL: When did your work become more conceptual?
ED: My late teens, early twenties. I was interested in photography from the 1800's, Tintype photography. I studied all the techniques of that era, and cultivated some of my ideas. This was in the late eighties. I began showing at that point, as well.
WL: Who were some of your influences, both past and present?
ED: Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Danny Lyons. Currently, I'm a big fan of Gregory Crewdson's work.
WL: In the past, photographers have seen a lot of success on a large scale. How has the business changed.?
ED: Well for fashion and editorial photographers, it's thriving. They can promote their business online, and earn a living from bookings. Fine Art photographers, have to work a little harder, cultivating their work and selling prints. Not an easy task, considering photography is a visual medium, and million’s of people are all using the same medium to communicate; and express themselves via social media. I have to admit some of the photos I've seen are very good, and taken with a $200 smart phone. Not long ago, most live action footage was shot by professional journalist imbedded in hot spots, shooting with $30,000 cameras and lenses. Now most live action footage is filmed by folk using their mobile devices, (as they just happened to be on scene.)
WL: What does this mean for people like you, who use photography as a creative profession, and need to make a living?
ED: Nothing, really. Just that artist have to continue to work hard, and produce good work. Cultivating, promoting, and selling their art, distinguishing themselves. Also, always be looking for ways to make money with the work, and never stop. Ever.
WL: Would you advise young people to go into the photography profession, either as a journalist, or artist?
ED: Yes, by all means. Pursue it academically, first, if you can. If not, gather as much knowledge as possible, learn the trade. Learn current marketing trends, and put your best work out there. Work hard cultivating your work. Could take ten years, but keep going. Never give up.
WL: Could it really take ten years?
ED: Yes. I've had great years, and some not so great. But, I'll keep shooting no matter what. Praise is short lived. Producing a solid body of work is more important. I've seen artist succeed, then somehow lose their way, and I've seen them fail and become discouraged. Don't let success, or failure cause you to fall off. Keep working, being creative. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.
I'm Peter Waits, London, UK.
Millennium Gallery 44857 Cedar Ave
Lancaster, CA 93534 "Unfamiliar Landscapes"
The Jacobson Gallery. Artist reception 7p - 9p. 761 Main st. Santa Fe NM 87505.
S19 Gallery Klapdorp 2, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium +32 495 51 5777 Sci Fi Perspective in Still Photography.
The themes and subject matter scream out, captivating the imagination. Seeing the images in their 16x20 and 20x30 scale, is amazing. Stuffed birds, crude leg braces, cotton flowers, a breathing machine, faux tress, a woman with a large hand saw, a deranged woman brandishing a knife; all as if to be adapted from a 1950's government noir science experiment.
Edward Donato was trained, and studied to be a minister. The son of an ordained minister, radio evangelist and missionary. Donato spent most of his formative years, and a good part of his life doing missionary work. Later, he decided to follow his dream to be an artist. However, the former influence in his life, is apparent in his work today.
Filled with props, contraptions and costumes, the images create a unusual timeless nuance. There's also the suggestion that Donato is making fun of the artistic nude study as a whole, or at least having fun with it. The only element that is truly dark about the work, is the black contrasting against the gray and white. The narrative is quite amusing, entertaining and fun. There are much darker and more serious photographic works out there in the world. Donato’s approach, is more intelligent than much of what else is out there. But not just trying to be dusky, or grim.
I would find Donato's world and imagination frightening and beautiful, what ever direction he chooses to go. After all, the photographer is continuing to build props, sets, costumes and shoot. When the 2013 image called, “The Spaceman” was released, I have to admit I was stunned. Having studied art and media, in the UK for the last twenty years, I couldn't remember ever seeing anything else like it, as a photo. If you take a careful look at what Donato has a subtleness placed in is photography, that draws you in, to follow an even deeper story. The new frontier of space noir, if there is such a thing.
I'm fortunate to be able to carve out a nice living. To me it's a business, I treat it as such. There isn't an artist on the planet who doesn't want to be successful. But I'm a photographer, who has to make a living. If I don't treat my occupation like a business, there's no money to be made. There was a time not long ago, when it was either feast, or famine. This was the nature of the business. Now in this era, an artist can make a living by finding their market, promoting and selling in that market; even on a global scale." Says the photographer.
In the age where curator's and gallery owners fix the prices of their artist work, and rarely allow solicited works to appear at auction, in fear of lowering prices; Donato’s plan seems most effective. “It takes decades to cultivate and artist work. Most of the larger gallery's and museums are promoting contemporary work that is forty or fifty years old. Great, the work held the standard of time. But it’s anyone's guess, who will be the most sought after, and highly coveted in the next forty to fifty years.”