Eclectic silhouettes and audacious bursts of color. Derrick Santini’s work has many shapes but he always leaves his mark. Born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, it seems like he was born behind the camera. He’s shot some of the most iconic talents of our era such as Alexander McQueen, Lady Gaga, Adele or Yves Saint Laurent. He captures the soul of everyone who’s lucky enough to end-up in front of his camera:
“I would say there was an influence from my family; as I started taking pictures with my mum’s old Agfa bellows roll film camera, she diligently took beautiful black and white family photographs that were printed in small squares with serrated edges and stuck into leather bound albums with photo corners, all dated and captioned. This was no mean feat back in her day given the complexity of the camera’s functions and operational settings. My farther was a great Chef and my distant older half brother was a costume and production designer, so creativity is there in our family make up.”
I am a complex person so naturally it’s in my work as it is in all aspects of my life, for the good and equally, the not so good.
I love music, it feeds my mind and sooths my soul, if I were anything else in life then I would have been a musician, not that I would change a thing. I love and am attracted to individual characters and creative folk, so working with musicians is easy, and the greater the artist the more rewarding the experience. Its all about being ‘Real’ and living in the moment, from that point anything and everything can happen, any fakeness or pandering will shut people down, and the moment is gone.
I have shot so many wonderful and inspiring artists, it’s hard to pluck one or two; I am not a star struck kind of person, and for many years was so blissfully unaware of the gravitas of the characters and situations I found myself in, I was just there doing my job and nothing else mattered. But for sure McQueen is right up there… he was a real rock star and mega talent. I met him through my dog Lilly, and he had one of her sisters Juice, and we did a lovely shoot for the Family issue of ID with Lily, her mum and Dad, 10 brothers and sisters and all the subsequent parents.
I am ultimately a humanist photographer by tradition, and just love people, and how we all interact with the world around us, and spent all my early years shooting voyeuristic reportage. People and their environment, even the unpopulated images were a comment on life and the human condition, abstractly and objectively. I just love the Gary Winogrand and Lee Friedlander ‘street’ aesthetic, their sardonic wit and devastating honesty.
What photograph are you the proudest of?
The ones that will last forever, and always make me smile with total recall of the moment they were conceived, and for sure the universal connections they evoke with others.
My signature is uncompromising uniqueness, through a highly developed way of seeing and instinctual fluidity with the moment at hand.
How’s your actual life behind the lenses?
As colorful, varied and complex as the life in front of it.
There’s a sense of humor in your work, particularly in your advertising campaigns; is it intentional?
Humor is key, if you don’t laugh you cry, I see the humor in everything, sometimes getting in trouble for it, but what can I do…
I have had many crazy experiences through being a photographer, I have been in many odd, strange and brilliant situations it makes my head spin, all I can say is that I feel extremely fortunate to still be able to tell the tale, but cant isolate one right now.
The real successful and truly great individuals are not picky, as they are grounded and secure in them selves, it’s the ones that are not that unique and gifted that can be a tad tricky, but I never have a problem with them, or visa versa, they are really all lovely.
Your series “Metamorphosis” is much darker and seems much more intimate than the rest of your photography. What is it about? Do you feel like this series show your personality more than your previous work, or just another part of it?
The Metamorphosis series of lenticular works was indeed a more serious and deeper exploration of my photographic journey and psyche. I started creating lenticular photographic works in 2007, heralding my own liberation and metamorphism as an artist, in direction, form and content. Lenticulars provide me with the desired platform to communicate with, one not bookended by being boxed as just a ‘photographer’. But it’s all the same continuum and my personal story.
You’ve also experimented with under-water photography, which adds a plus of difficulty; what made you give it a go?
I always like a challenge on that front, and underwater photography never appealed, although I love the sea and being in water, and the 2015 series ‘In Your Mind’ was conceived and constructed all around water and light, and the subsequent life it creates.
I visualize the photograph before shooting, some a lot more than others, lenticulars generally take a lot more pre production than say a portrait session, the idea dictates the amount of visualization needed. I love both types but all boil down to the actual execution of the image or sequence of images.
If you had to choose a character, dead or alive, to take a photo of them, who would it be?
To name three… Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and The Queen
I have for sure evolved at the same time as person and as an artist. It’s not my day job, there is no separation only symbiosis.
My advise for upcoming photographers is to just take tons of pictures, the more you take the better you get, there‘s no other way… You have to love it and be very driven and stubborn as fuck…
ALL PHOTOS BY DERRICK SANTINI
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