We had the good fortune of connecting with Bart Mastronardi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bart, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is being vulnerable. It is being naked on top of a tall cliff, looking down at a river moving quite fast, and knowing I have jumped from the cliff into the river of life. Not only is the river moving fast it is cold and I am naked. It’s all a metaphor. We are all vulnerable. We all know we have to take a jump at points in our lives. We all know life can move fast at times. In the end we all have to do it if we choose to. I choose to take the risks. I also know I have trained myself to be prepared for the results when I do jump into projects, life matters, and situations I may not understand once I am there. Without taking the risks I have done I would not be answering your questions. I grew up in Queens, NYC to a family of immigrant Italian blue collar workers who worked quite hard to raise a family. Each day they worked hard for my mom and dad to provide for us. I repeated it so much. I say this because my grandmother packed up her three children from Italy and left her family to make a life in the United States in 1956. Huge risk. Immigrant. International single woman who didn’t speak a word of English to raise three children on her own in a country she had no understanding of. It was a great risk. My grandmother was a strong figure in my life as she knew in order to have a better life for her family she had to leave her home. She risked it moving to America. Her family came I think six months later. Everyday people are risking their lives to create a life they see for the better. I do it myself each day with my work. My profession as a photographer. Risk is really about doing the work. Crafting your skills for the better. It is simple yet so mentally complex. The risk takes on different paths in the journey of life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Thank you. It is an honor to have people enjoy my work enough to talk about it. I am a visual storyteller using photography and filmmaking to tell the stories, which gives to the narrative use in my photography. Much of my work is Portrait and Fine Art photography where I get to create stories using photography. At times I have clients who come to me to photograph them for fine art style portraits. What excites me most is the process of the session with the models and clients. The discussions we have to light up the ideas for the session. I am most happy when the clients are smiling while looking at the captures we created. I will admit there is nothing like working with the lab, Film Solutions in Burbank, and going over the paper to print the photograph on. When the print is ready and framed it is magical in every way imaginable. If time permits I’ll hang the frame up in the clients home for display. I am most happy when I am working on my photography or even helping students to understand their own process. I was able to get where I am by taking huge risks because I felt like I had no choice. I had to do what I felt was in my gut. One of the best jobs I had in 2020 before the pandemic was the theatrical show Women Behind Bars with Traci Lords. Wow! What a show. I was the photographer for the publicity photos. I was honored and in love with the whole production. I have to say thank you to Chris Roe for it. When I saw the poster of the production up in the theater at the Montalban in Hollywood and Vine I was overwhelmed. I have also opened up my own Headshots division for actors and corporate. www.HeadshotsbyBart.com On the way I have been fortunate to have a core group who supports and encourages me. It wasn’t always that way when you start out. Many mistakes were made while success was built from the experiences I met. I needed them so I could grow into who I am now. I do not spend a lot of time worrying anymore. I just do now. I do the work. I am a conduit for the creative energy to flow. When I am open to the process it flows more easily. It’s tough at times as it is a business, too. However, that’s the joy in it at times. What I would ask the world to understand about me is it is important we share our talent to help give more to the world. I get to live my art every day. It’s a relationship within me that I cherish as I can share it with many people from all over the world thanks to social media. One lesson I learn each day when I am working is to keep investing in yourself. It’s your talent to work with so make it worth the time.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Right now with Covid-19 so many of my favorite places are closed or closing down. It’s been a rough time for so many small businesses here in Los Angeles. Being a small business owner I understand their pain and anger. Right now one of my places I am at is the pop up gym at Crunch gym in a parking lot. It is a place to just exercise the anxiety, frustration, and build for a better healthier version of me. So much of the virus hits our health. hiking up to the Wisdom Tree has become a pilgrimage for me. I love California. For now day drives to see the coast line, Joshua Tree, the beaches. Los Angeles is a city that has so much to see and do. It will come back but in time. I will say one of my favorite spots was Flaming Saddles, which has closed due to Covid. Flaming Saddles was always a fun energetic place to bring friends to and hang out.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First responders. My grandmother – Caroline, My mother and my father. My Brother John and Gabriella. Chris Roe, Alan Rowe Kelly, Jordan Hirt-Ceron. Nicole Alexis-Kane, Michael Stokes, Michael Sean McHale, Sue Bryce, Those who help give light in darkness. Kimberly Wrann, Herb Ritts. Nathan Wrann, Christopher Roe JR, Raven Adams, RhondaLee Quaresma. David Vance. Marcus Mok, Angels In America. James Baldwin. Paul Freeman, Larry Kramer, Paolo Coelho. Stefan Pinto. Amy Lynn Best. Mike Watt. Every single student who I have had the honor of teaching. Michelangelo. Charles Chudabala. Nicole “Soul” Creary. Beth Wernick. Patrick Cronen. Billy Clift. Paul Antonelli. Mark Bego. Homer. Dante. Terrence McNally. Michael Sean McHale. My family. immigrants who leave their homeland to live in other places. Teddy Ovid. Clive Barker. People who stand up for the greater good of humanity. Keith Haring. Tedeshi Doris Woolford. Michael Varrati. Cat-Cat Postorino. John Inserra. Marcus DeCosta. Timothy Leach. NYC. Los Angeles. Italy. JV13. Walt Whitman. Chase Jarvis. Fine Arts. A camera to load film into. Stonewall Riots. Helen Keller. Timothy Leach. LGBTQIA+. Michael Vaccaro. Melissa Johnson. Brandon Schlaegel. Michael Knowles. The person who recommended me to All Artists who strive to not only create but that their work can change and help our world. Platon. Tennessee Williams. Adrienne King. Rosa Park. Teachers who inspire, encourage, and guide their students to success. Eileen Dietz. Advocates who stand up and help fight for those who have no voice or can’t use it. Traci Lords. Those who ask me to photograph them with trust. Shanna Lynn Milazzo. Chris Olsefky. A Streetcar Named Desire. The Alchemist. The Renaissance. I also give a shoutout to all of those who take their dreams and work hard to turn them into reality. Fear. Love. Life.
Instagram: Bart Mastronardi Photography https://www.instagram.com/bartmastronardiphotography/?hl=en
Twitter: @BartMastronardi1 https://twitter.com/BartMastronard1
Facebook: Bart Mastronardi
Brandon Schlaegel. Bart Mastronardi. Mélissa Guérin Torres. Miss CoCo Peru. Charles Chudabala. Niki J. Borger. Sam Meade. Michael Knowles. Melissa Johnson.