Artist statement

I remember taking photos as early as age thirteen in my childhood bedroom of our family house. I used to sleep in the attic which had windows at both ends so I had beautiful light all day. I would arrange old photos on my bedroom floor and re-photograph them. Since then I’ve realized that I like to work project by project with an intention in mind. I take photos in groups, looking for specific threads that hold each series together. I particularly like how a photo series highlights both continuity and the uniqueness of each photograph and subject matter at the same time, and much of that has to do with my personal connection to the lives and histories of the people I have photographed.

When I was in grade 8 I started to bring my 35mm camera to school and everything changed for me. Standing behind a camera gave me a kind of authority; it also gave me a privileged access to people. At the same time being behind a camera can intimidate people. And that was a powerful feeling which has stayed with me since that time. This is why I’m so careful and mindful about what takes place in the interaction between myself as the photographer and the subject.

The camera will often reveal all kinds of facets that subjects are surprised by themselves. I try to balance my own compassion and tenderness for my subjects with that discerning eye of the boy interested in aesthetic and layout. With each series, and with each subject, something new is demanded of me and of them. I photograph people in the nude, or in their kitchen or in my studio -- and they are vulnerable in all cases to the gaze of the camera. Sometimes I don’t see what I have gained in the photo until I see the printed work, and reflect back on the exchange with my subject.

Most importantly, I want my subjects to gain something from the experience. The photo is of course a keepsake and a kind of memento, but that moment of taking the photograph also has to be meaningful for them. I strive to do this in the time I have with my subjects, but also in the care I place in what I do with the images they provide.

©2019 Franco Deleo.