[Ted D'Ottavio]
Ted D'Ottavio

My philosophy.
I will take you into a new world by clearly showing you something. I'll show you how good you look or I'll show you how unique the most common thing is, like a leaf, a rock, or some rust. My dad would laugh and say "oooh, another picture of leaves and rocks!" so I finally made some 4x5 negatives, blew them up real large, and turned my camera back onto people. There the details go deeper into character. I like to work with people who step out of the here and now into another world. When people dress up they transform. I transform the setting, and texture of an image to match. I photographed paintball games that were like living video games with stories attached. Everyday people would put on a mask and hunt each other. That mask, the gun, and the abnormally safe nature of the sport swept people onto the planet Arakis, or in front of Lizard aliens during World War II. People fought vampyric deamons in the jungles of mexico, and chased down the Predator in the ravines of Kansas. I saw the highlander weild his sword, the X-men rebuild strange machines, and grim reapers dance on the number 9 train. At night, during the day, and early in the morning I was there twisting out angles and compositions to make these dreams come true. When I looked close I could see their animal spirits; the wolves, eagles, cats, snakes, and rodents. Currently I live in New York where the one white wall of my small studio is transformed by my computer into the ultimate stage for all the wonderous heroes of fashion and fantasy around me. Here as well I'll show you strength, beauty, and power. Once upon a time I worked for a newspaper, and they wanted me to show misery, injustice, hatred, and sadness. When I saw people eating their cereal in the morning, looking at my pictures across the cafeteria I knew which picture would make them want to read my name and thank me. It was never the picture the newspaper editors wanted. It was the picture of some student in jeans and a T-shirt cracking a home run during a quick baseball game with some of the guys who lived on their floor. I learned then that if you curse me for seeing the world through rose colored glasses then you would be one loud voice that disagrees with ten that are silent. While a newspaper listens to the loud voices, I prefer listening to the quiet ones and making the world happier one thank you at a time.

Do people get my work? I don't know. If they do not, then I'm the idiot. Artwork is communication. Being clear and being understood is what makes cartoons like the Road Runner enjoyable in every country, no matter what language they speak. That's artwork. People get it. If people don't get it, then perhaps the message is meant for a small group, like an inside joke for one country and not another, or perhaps the artist is lacking. I'm not making political or cultural observations, so hopefully people get it. They may not be impressed, but that's another issue. In general my messages are not rooted in small groups, so I think most people understand that they are looking at a portrait of a strong character, a creature, or a demi-god.

A great obstacle was realising that being able to do something, and having done something are not related issues. So i had to ask myself; should I buy food or film? I sought some advice while my prints were washing at 4am one night, and I had work in the morning. Many times I had been in this sleepless state, and sometimes it seemed like the only way I could find time to work on images. I went outside for a hot fudge sunday in the east village, and it was the heroin addict in the park who finally had an answer. Who else would know how to stretch a buck to spend more on the fun stuff? Bannanas are twenty five cents, coffee supresses your appetite, a little jelly and peanut butter for protein, a can of something green, and the rest of the cash is for film. This was important because without balance in your diet you become to tired to take pictures. With a full time job and good food I might forget to spend money on supplies and take less pictures. So which is it? A part time job and time to make images, or a fat stomach and sleepless nights? I kept my cabinets full of film and started doing all those things that made me say "I can do that!" Now I know all the things I cannot do, and saying "I can do that!" doesn't come so easily anymore. Sometimes I cannot "do that!" because I've tried, and I'm not there ...yet. But... dammit, it all looks so simple, doesn't it? On a smaller scale, as in right now, my place is a mess, I'm writing this, and I have a shoot in seven hours. It's 4am. It's time to drop the fantasy portraits, and delve deeper into story telling. It would help to have a story for tomorrow, but I do have seven hours and four rough ideas.

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