From Troubadour21: Behind The Lens With David Pizzoferato
Any one of us has the ability to pick up a camera and take a photograph. Then there are those who can pick up a camera and deliver stunning, articulate renderings. David Pizzoferrato is just that kind of Photographer.I met David recently in St. Johns Michigan. We both attended a benefit to save the Crosby Mint farm from bank foreclosure.
I was there with a group of poets to do readings and David was there to support his friend, Linette Crosby owner of the Crosby Mint farm. I noticed David wandering around with his camera taking candid shots of the goings on there, and I had the opportunity to sit and talk with David for just a few moments. He gave me his business card and we both agreed that we would be in touch with one another. I thought it to be an enlightening experience, and felt the readers of Troubadour 21 and Now Public deserved to hear a little more about this excellent photographic artist. David has agreed to sit down to an interview with us.
Below are the excerpts of that interview.
T21: David, it’s a pleasure to have you with us to discuss your craft of photography and what it means to you as an artist. Can you tell us when you first started taking pictures?
David: Thanks, Bill. It’s a pleasure to speak with you, and thank you for your very kind words. Since a very young age, I was captivated by old family photographs. We had box loads of them. They were magical to me. Here, held in your hand, were moments frozen in time to study, admire and to love. A window into the past, and one that you could make an emotional connection with. And you could revisit these photographs over and over again through the years. They became like old friends, and you grew fonder of them as the years went by. All this, from a photograph! I wanted to make my own. So that’s where it all began for me, probably for a lot of other reasons as well.
T21: I have seen some of your work at your website, http://www.pizzophotography.com/ and also at your other site, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pizzo/ . Your technique is unlike any that I have ever seen. There is a richness to these renderings that surpasses the typical photo. Can you share with our readers the type of equipment you use?
David: Sure. I get asked this question frequently. I shoot with a Canon 1Ds Mark III, a Canon 5D Mark II, and a host load of different lenses and filters. But I have to say that while equipment is important, it’s not the equipment that turns out great photography. It’s the photographer and his vision. You could have the best equipment in the world and still only produce “snap shots”. By the same token, it is possible to shoot an award winning photograph with a $100 point and shoot camera. Of course, pro equipment provides the photographer with the tools needed to shoot under a broad range of circumstances and conditions that consumer level gear cannot do. So there is a difference. But again, the most important ingredient is the photographer’s vision. As a professional photographer, you literally have to learn how to “see” in a different way than we do in our normal day to day lives. There are rules of composition, lighting considerations, vantage point, focal length decisions, depth of field, shutter speeds, ISO settings, and a bunch of other aspects that eventually become second nature when you’re behind the lens. All these things are important ingredients. But in spite of all this, I still have the capability to turn out a blah photo. All professional photographers do.
T21: Do you use any type of photo editing software?
David: Oh yes. Digital post production work is really important. With the right editing software, I can take an average photo and enhance it greatly. I can make your skin glow with health, de-emphasize wrinkles, make your eyes sparkle, shave off a few pounds, make your hair shiny and glamorous, and I can even take a dour expression and make it smile. The real skill however, lies in the ability to edit without making it evident that it’s edited. Especially to the subject! I have thousands of hours spent honing these skills, and use them judiciously. It depends of the type of photography I’m engaged in at the time, and whether I’m attempting to capture reality, or if I’m trying to make my own reality. Sometimes I take my editing to the extreme on purpose, to enter into the world of the hyper-real. Does that make sense?
T21: Can you give our readers more information with regards to your studio and gallery? How can they contact you for prints or for sittings?
David: My studio is a converted garage space in my home. I considered a store front type of space away from home, but I wanted my creative space to be within footsteps of where I live. It’s not uncommon for me to get inspiration at 2 AM, and I don’t want to be far from the studio for that reason. Photography is my mad passion and I need to have my tools nearby, within instant reach. You might say I’m obsessed. You’d be right. I have some of my work on display the art gallery in St Johns, so anyone can visit there any time to see my work. You can also see most of my work at my website or on flickr. I can be contacted for sittings via my website where you can drop me an email, or by calling me direct at 517-281-5110.
T21: Most of us have the need to create in one way or another. What message is it that you hope to convey through your photography?
David: I want to stir the emotions. With event photography, like a wedding, I have the honor of creating a photo journal of what is probably the most important day ever in the lives of the bride and the groom. The shoot starts early in the morning, and gets over usually around 10pm. My goal is to accurately tell the wedding day story in beautiful photographs, all the while being as invisible as possible. I’m there to capture the emotion, the fun, the romance, the laughter, the tears, the drama, the spectacle of all the important key events of the day, as well as the spontaneous moments. I am the bride’s personal personal paparazzi for a day. It’s thrilling, really. And hard work. And while everyone is dining at the wedding reception, I am on my laptop racing to put together a slide show of some of the days most memorable moments, set to emotionally charged music, and shown later in the evening on my giant portable screen and sound system for all to enjoy. Laughter and tears from the guests tell me I’ve done a good job of it. Along with my great wife and assistant, we pour our hearts and souls into every wedding.
T21: Can you give us an idea of your future projects and what we can look forward to with regards to your photography?
David: In terms of creativity, I really work without a map. Even on a paid shoot it’s more of a discovery process for me rather than a plan. I let inspiration act as my guide. The beauty is always there, it’s just a matter of discovering it, rather than trying to intentionally create it. Does that make sense? An example would be these two photos of a beautiful young pregnant women I recently had the pleasure of working with. Megan absolutely radiated with the glow of new life. These works are heavily manipulated in post production. Did I set out to create this look? No. The emotion and beauty in these shots were already there. I simply uncovered them. Or a shot of a young R&B artist that goes by the name of “Z”. Z is originally from Africa, and came to the US when he was in his teens. A photo of Z shows a very strong, yet at the same time a quiet sense of confidence and pride. Others may sense something different, but there is little doubt that this image speaks.
David Pizzoferrato is a photographer and artist whose photographic renderings move the body and spirit to inspiration and sheer joy. It was a privilege for me to have met David and learn more about his work and also the person. Please take the time to go to David’s websites and view his amazing photography.