Celebrity portraiture in depth Gino Domenico documents the highlights of top celebrities

Gino Domenico’s photographs are featured in major magazines, books, cd covers and as promotional material for Broadway, television and film. He has over twenty years of experience as a photojournalist, shooting for the Associated Press, New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune and European Press Photo Agency. His work as a portrait photographer took shape soon after his move to Los Angeles. He partnered with television producers to shoot movie posters and photographic books for Paramount, Sony and Disney. Here, he shares some of his iconic work in celebrity portraiture and a look into his work process.

Did you have any formal education in photography, with a mentor, or were you self taught. Was there a photographer or type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?

I am fortunate to have a good eye. The rest is learned as I continue to move in a forward direction.

I deliberately avoided delving into the great photographers of previous generations. I feared copying their work, either consciously or unconsciously. In the last few years however, I began to acquaint myself with the works of Winogrand, Robert Frank, Iriving Penn, Eggleston. I feel connected to their approach in the work.

Your work has a strong focus in areas of the entertainment industry, with portraiture as the main photographic style. Why did you started focusing on this realm of photography?

The portrait work basically fell on my lap while I was shooting news for the Associated Press. The AP’s Entertainment desk assigned me to photograph an actor for a story promoting a film. The experience was far removed from shooting breaking news and the end result in terms of aesthetic was satisfying. I felt this was a new direction I needed to pursue.

How do you compare the work you did when at the New York Times and the work you’re doing now? Do you think it complements the work in a way?

My work at the New York Times and Associated Press was fast-paced and unpredictable. I would attribute my approach to shooting portraits to when I covered breaking news. Every assignment was different, the shooting conditions were beyond my control and the end result laid the groundwork to take pictures quickly and controlled. I have experienced many instances with actors asking to take more pictures or offering more time in our session.

Describe the creative process when shooting with actors or other celebrities, do they influence the shots, or do you have full creative power over these images?

My overall experience thus far working with professional actors, authors and musicians has been quite positive and rewarding. It is not a matter of control, but a matter of trust and to be sensitive to their vulnerabilities. The actors sometimes collaborate, but most often give me carte blanche. It takes a certain style and personality, and a bit of luck to walk away with a good picture.

You’ve worked with Sony and Disney on several projects. Can you please share a bit about the projects you’re worked on with these organizations?

My experience with Disney was invaluable. I photographed behind the scenes of their Broadway shows and published a coffee table book, “A day at the New Amsterdam Theatre.” I was hired as still photographer for Sony films and did photography for movie posters.

These images were shot with the Leica M9, why did you choose this equipment? 

I usually shoot with two cameras, sometimes three, depending on the allotted time and with whom I am shooting. I shoot with my M2 when not shooting the M9 and occasionally use a medium format.

The majority of the portraits are done in black and white, is this an aesthetic decision or a more conceptual one?

That’s a good question. I am partial to black and white and I only shoot black and white film. When I edit the digital files, I sometimes allow for color. I rarely ever conceptualize in color, but it sometimes fits.

Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers and what other projects are you working on?

I have several projects floating in space and time, but one in particular I am actively shooting. Unfortunately, I am not able to share the particulars, although I can tell you it’s a six-year project and I am nearly three years committed. I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your audience for viewing my work.

Thank you Gino!

To know more about Gino Domenico’s work, please visit his official website.

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