"...portraits are one of the things that I really love just because of the people," said Dante Rionda, a Detroit native practicing the art of photography. Diving into street photography, he talked about his enjoyment of shooting photos of other people; how each of their individual expressions bring an excitement to the act and the still life of the photo. Inspirations of his include photographers Joey L and Van Styles.
Where did you interest in photography stem from?
Well honestly, I just thought the shit was cool. I’ve always been into design, but I just felt that that wasn’t my calling. I have an eye for design but I can’t execute it like I want to sometimes. Maybe It’s just because I don’t have time to learn how to use Photoshop and all the technical stuff. But I really like taking pictures of moments and events; cool events, not just like weddings and shit like that. It’s very fun, and the only thing I can really focus on and let all my feelings out, and just go with.
Are there any particular artists, visual or non-visual that inspired you?
Joey L. He goes to different countries and brings one light, a medium format camera of fifty or a hundred megapixels; it’s really cool. He brings the studio to a real world environment, and the way the people are all set up together takes you into a different space. It’s just dope.
Van Styles mainly because he brings a lot of landscapes into the portraits he does and I think it’s so dope. I think I would really like to incorporate that into my style just because I shoot a lot of landscapes for wanting to be a portrait photographer. Doing that and incorporating people into what I do would be awesome.
Roughly how long did it take for you to get comfortable with your style?
I have my own eye. I don’t want to say style. I’m trying to get my own style of editing and of course, trying to brand myself, but I don’t want to be integrated within a group of people where I only shoot urban shit, which would be like abandoned buildings (bandos). For example, recently I damn near hit up so many abandoned buildings, and I’m just getting tired of it. There’s no connection. To me they're cool to look at and be like, “Damn, a lot of shit has happened in this place," but to me, portraits are one of the things that I really love just because of the people. People have different expressions and different reactions. I went to Toronto last weekend and did a lot of street photography, and it was just exciting. Doing street photography is really hard. Trying to be sneaky and shit is really difficult. I actually shot with one of my friends Curtis. This dude is 16 and he’s fearless. He literally just walks up to people like ‘click,’ and nobody says shit, you feel me? So that’s what I started doing. I started saying fuck it: capture the moment quickly, be on your way, and nobody says shit. I mean, sometimes you have to be kind of on the sly, but that’s how the game goes sometimes.
You just dropped a photo set of jellyfish and aquatic animal photos. What’s the backstory behind that?
That was actually really fucked up. In the tank, there's one wall with mirrors on the side and it’s dark as fuck. All you see is the jellyfish really. No man seen this shit except for the people that I was with. It’s super dark so I had to be really creative with the editing. I brought up the blues hue in Adobe Lightroom and it came out dope as fuck. I couldn’t use auto focus because the jellyfish were moving extremely fast. I had to use manual focus the whole time and luckily I was using manual lenses before this, so I hacked my camera. I have this app where you can see where the camera is focused, so that helped me out. When you see terrible pictures on your camera you automatically want to say fuck it delete them shits, but I don’t delete anything. Instead, I said, "Lemme edit it. If it comes out ass, whatever." Basically, moral of the story, don’t count yourself out.
How would you describe the concept of art?
That’s too deep dawg. Art is, um... what is art? I view art as creating: creating what you feel, what you see, what you want people to feel. Art is everything, deadass; that’s probably in layman’s terms, but from what I can say, art is so deep that there’s no definition of it. I don’t even want to go into It because I’ll be contradicting myself the whole time. Art is very contradictory. Everything about art to me is everything. You can’t say this seat isn’t art because at one point in time, that fucking seat was a brand new invention. In its design, it has legs for a reason, side arms for a reason; everything is linked back for a reason. Even our human bodies are art. Honestly, I want to shoot women's bodies for the rest of my life. Women's bodies are art. Everything is art. I feel like if I were to ever tell my kids what art is to me, art is just the expression of yourself, just creating what you love.