Featured Artist #05 – Photographer Brad DeCecco – Interview

In: Artist Interviews

22 Sep 2007

BradBrad DeCecco converses with C.L. Taylor of the Curious Artist family about his art and his experiences with the people he meets along the way.

What’s up Brad, thanks for taking some time to talk with Curious Artist. Tell us a little about your early exposure to photography.

I had a great teacher in high school who is actually this amazing photographer, so I spent half of my high school life in the darkroom.

Did you go on to pursue an education in photography in college?

I studied science and English at Oberlin College in Ohio. After graduation I basically moved to New York started interning for photographers then assisting then started doing my own stuff back in 2000. I think I learned more that way than being in a program.

So I guess your GPA never comes up in an interview.

I know that when I walk in to a photo editor or art director’s office the only thing that matters is my book.

What stands out for you as the major differences between working in film and photography?

The thing that amazes me about the film world is the amount of collaboration that goes on and the way that people get along. I didn’t start working in film until about three years ago but I observed that photographers are very standoffish and don’t tend to associate with each other too much cause its like such a cut throat business, not that film isn’t but once I started working in film I started working with producers and assistant directors and like everybody is so willing to help one another out. The atmosphere in around film feels like a family where as in photography you feel like you’re on an island which can be cool to but it’s like a totally different world.

Does the nature of your relationship to the subject or scene change as you alter your role for a project?

I feel like film is a lot less intimate because there so much more equipment involved and there are so many more people involved so its harder for you to focus on the subject and its hard for the subject to focus on the director. During filming you’ve got to be thinking about lighting and production issues and things like that. You can still have these concerns in photography, but it can be just you, the subject and the sun. I fell like it’s a lot more intimate, therefore I feel like it has the power to be a lot more effective in communicating with the audience.

I love your photo of an elderly woman checking the barrel of a gun, please elaborate.

She is one of the Second Amendment Sisters. They’re a national organization that empowers women to own and know how to use hand guns. That photo was taken at their annual meeting in Texas. We went shooting together, it was pretty crazy. They’re like down in Texas one of them was from North Dakota but they had this preconceived notion that this new Yorker was going to be this super liberal gun hating type person. You know, it was funny because we became these really good friends.

I told them that I had been hunting and they were like what? I told them that I actually shot an Elk in Montana. It sort of broke down some barriers, we didn’t talk about politics but it was still really cool. That’s what I love about photography, it can take into something that you would never walk into otherwise, and to see people lives that you just you wouldn’t see, that they don’t always show to people.

Artist are known for being very critical of themselves. Do you find yourself looking back saying, man I should have changed this shot or that lighting?

I do. I go through it more afterwards unfortunately. I think most good artist that I know are never really happy with there last project. That’s kind of what really drives me to sort of outdo myself. I think if you just sit back and say like wow I’m really good then you’re kind of just going to just keep doing the same thing. It’s not on purpose but I can say I’ve been ninety percent happy with stuff.

Is the artist responsible for the viewer or the work on display?

I think my first responsibility is to the subject. I’m always really conscious of that. You know, I did photo journalism for the first year when I moved here and on the side I worked for Associated Press. I saw people willing to manipulate reality to get the story that they wanted. I saw people being asked to do things that they weren’t actually doing. I’m not a photo journalist, that’s not what I do but still feel it’s important to tell an honest story. I don’t believe in manipulating something for the benefit of the viewer. I think that honesty translates into valuing the viewer and there perspective.

I recently saw some of you work on the internet. It was a small platoon of soldiers walking through New York City. Tell us about that.

On YOUTUBE, yeah I DP’d that (director of photography of cinematographer).The film work I do is generally DP for music videos and things I’ll direct and shoot. For that particular project I was doing the camera work. That was a particular action that took place in New York City where they were trying to show the American public what it like to live in Baghdad. So your just standing on a street corner and all of a sudden here comes thirty guys in camo who take your mom and your sister, who are standing next to you, through them up against a wall, handcuff them and take them to god knows where.

Like trying to drive it home what it’s like in Iraq.

Pretty scary scene.

Yeah it that was one of the most intense things I’ve ever done because they all were actual Iraq war veterans. I hope it has some positive effect on society.

What can we look forward to seeing in the future from you?

We’re editing a music video I directed and dp it’s going come out in September. It’s for a band called GOLDSTREETS. They are a Brooklyn band that has a lot of interest from some major labels. Did you see the website for the documentary film Serpent and the Rock? That’s sort a feature length documentary I’ve been working on for three years and we’re just sort of wrapping that up now. It’s about a town in Montana that was asbestos poisoned by this mine for about 60 years and basically no one told anyone that worked in the mine or anyone in the mine that it was contaminated. Since it takes like 30 years to affect you people didn’t start getting really sick and dying until the 80s and they finally started putting things together in 2000. Then low and behold the world trade center was full of this exact same asbestos from this town. What we are doing is interviewing all the people in this town in Montana and showing how they were mislead and interviewing people that were downtown on 9/11 and showing how they were mislead. Then we are comparing there illnesses and there experiences and sort of drawing that parallel to say what’s going to happen in New York in about 30 years. There is going to be huge health crisis.

Especially first responders.

Exactly, we are also talking to resident office workers, doctors in the monitoring programs and lawyers.

What is most important to you in your work the message you convey or the presentation.

I really try and go down the middle but I think that most of the personal work I do and the jobs I try to go for motivated by… I don’t really like the word activist but they are usually born of my sense of injustice. Like I really try and do… like the documentary for example. Its so appalling that people that worked on the pile and people that lived downtown are going to be really sick …it comes from like an activist tendency but I like try and put a visually artistic slant on it because I think that’s the way to get people to be aware and be involved. Not just flaring your arms and saying hey these people are sick but to present it in such a way that’s artistic and visually interesting so that people will actually pay attention to it and it will stand out. And I think the people that we are trying to help or bring attention to deserve that.

Thanks for taking some time to talk to Curious Artist and our readers.

No problem, keep in touch.


Brad DeCecco Photography: Official Site

Also Check Out: Operation First Casualty


Interview By C.L. Taylor

Thank You For Your Support – Amon Focus

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About Curious Artist

Curious Artist is a Visual Art Inspiration blog created by Amon Focus.

Curious Artist aims to find and share the coolest art, most dynamic designs and best resources available to artists on and offline. Artists are encouraged to provide helpful tips on both important aspects of design as well as the business of art in the 21st century. Interviews with artists from around the world and comments inspired by the daily features contribute well to the steadily growing Curious Artist community...Read More.

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