We had the good fortune of connecting with Donato Bragagnolo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donato, what matters most to you?
Honesty and respect. In an environment where competition and appearance run unchecked, honesty and respect are the most valuable qualities you can find in the people that you work with. I’d much rather learn from the truth even if it hurts, than receive fake compliments and praises. You can see in our society today there is a lack of respect that leads to a lot of conflict. For me, respect does not mean that you hold everyone in a high regard, it means turning off your ego and opening your ears. If you can hold off judgement and truly listen to others, we can only grow.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I am photographing or filming, my focus is on capturing true emotions and moments of life without interfering with my subjects. The results may not be a technically perfect photo, but hopefully it makes you stop and feel or think. I am always working to produce something that goes beyond a beautifully designed image to try to take you into the scene. I try my best to get to know the community or subject that I am documenting. I don’t like to just show up to an event, shoot and leave. I don’t think it’s possible to really be genuine in what you are shooting when you do it so quickly. I’d rather spend time with people to try to understand what’s going on first, even if I don’t take a single photo. When I say I am trying to amplify the voices of a movement, it is a slippery slope. You really have to dedicate yourself and do your best to try to understand the voices and how they truly want to be amplified and represented. You’re constantly reminding yourself not to add your own interpretation, but to let the story tell itself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I don’t have favorites, but I’d probably stop by Garibaldy in Highland Park for some good food, walk around downtown and check out some museums. If I’m on a movie production, I’ll take them to set with me. If there’s time, we’d take a road trip to one of the National Parks. But really depends on who’s visiting and what interests they have. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
For the last year, I’ve been documenting the protests and actions organized by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (BLMLA) and other like-minded organizations. I admire the courage and spirit of the dedicated individuals that are pushing this movement forward. I show up to amplify their voices – they need to be heard by all of us. They are the ones doing the hard work, every day. I honor and respect them, and encourage you to learn more about how you can support this movement at www.blmla.org.
Main photo is taken by Frank Rogozienski
All remaining photos are taken Donato Bragagnolo