New York City-based photographer’s Donato Di Camillo is a self-taught professional photographer known for his gritty portraits from the heart of New York City. But what makes his career stand out is that he taught himself how to handle a camera in a rather unusual place – while serving his sentence in prison.
Not surprisingly, Di Camillo avoids associating himself with his past mistakes, so he shares very few details about his imprisonment except for the fact that he spent countless hours reading all the books about photography he could get his hands on. Which is actually fine, because his past ordeals could only take something away from his almost shockingly realistic take on life in the less glamorous parts of the New York City.
“As a child, I witnessed a lot of traumatic things,” Di Camillo says, “I saw my first friend die at the age of nine, right by my feet,” (the boy was killed by a passing car as they played outside). Back in the 1978s and 1980s, Brooklyn was a rather unforgiving place the artist explains, he “had to learn to think quick and use street instincts.”
The artist’s photo series is about “people on the fringes of society,” the same description he uses for himself aswell. His upbringing has inspired him to do street photography, and as he simply explains, that’s “something that I felt I needed to do.”