Shine A Light: Tanya Braganti

I recently asked subscribers to the 9GiantSteps email group to fill me in on the projects they are working on so that I would have the opportunity to both learn more about this amazing group of people, and also present a small profile of them and their work on 9GS.

To say the response has been overwhelming and humbling would be an understatement.

The amount, quality, and diversity of high-level, purpose-driven, discourse-raising work that subscribers are engaged in is to me, and will hopefully be to readers of the 9GS, motivating. It pushes me to work harder, have a greater impact. If you’d like your work featured here, please sign up to the 9GS Email Group, and, after doing so, shoot me a description of your work.

Shine A Light: Tanya Braganti
It’s fitting that the first subject of the Shine A Light series is Tanya Braganti. Tanya and I met in college in Boston, became fast/best friends, and started making music together. To my ears, Tanya is one of the finest songwriters out there (check out her music: HERE).

Tanya’s music isn’t the focus of this piece, however. Rather, it’s her work as a photographer, and the opportunity to inform readers of her current gallery exhibit: A Shot of Caffeine to the Heart.

The show runs daily thru November 15th at Joe -The art of Coffee, which is on 405 West 23rd St. between 9th and 10th Aves in New York.

Tanya has graciously allowed me to post a few images from the show (all (c) Tanya Braganti):

Crescent City



You can see more images from the show: HERE.

I asked Tanya to give me some insight into her work. She supplied me with two things.

This from a Robert Creeley poem:

I began wanting a sense
of melody, e.g., following
the tune, became somehow
an image, then several,
and I was watching those things
becoming in front of me.

And this Artist’s Statement (emphasis mine):

About me and my work.
Tanya Braganti

I’ve gotten most of what I wanted, photographic career wise, by just walking in, quite literally. The coveted Magnum Photos’ internship I was hired for in 1994 was offered to me after I simply walked into their offices on Spring Street, introduced myself, gave the director an earnest look and voiced my aspirations.

The hard part for me has often been deciding what I want to do, and with whom I want to work. Once this is aligned in my head, I go for it.

My mom often bemused “I wish you spent as much energy on your school work as you do figuring out how to get into the front row at a sold out concert.”

To this day musicians, directors, and authors are my main motivators. In portraiture I aspire to find the place where my creativity meets another’s, and shape a visual where reality and romance reveal themselves in one frame. Many of the photographs that stir me emotionally are ones created with few bells and whistles, lighting heroics, or which require four assistants. I’m a purist: a fan of intimate, noble portraiture.

Sally Mann remains my favorite photographer to this day. Never before had I seen such sheer beauty burst from the diurnal. Her work, for me, taps into some kind of archetypal memory, a childhood when “work was your play” and even if you had a fever of 104 you were still in the safety net of your childhood, safety, and home.

Bruce Davidson and Donna Ferrato have always been my main inspirations for the work I create on a daily basis. Their spirits are carried in every photo they take — they are able to wield themselves and their cameras to tap into everyone’s spark; a spark often that their subjects might not even know they had. Bruce Davidson is able to evoke the sentiment of an entire era, with portraits, alone.

My landscapes are, honestly, the romance a northern girl has for the South. Perhaps not based in reality, but of an interpreted notion stemming from literature or song, then projected visually. I want to make pictures of the way a Lucinda Williams song makes me feel. In so many ways, that is redundant, as she paints pictures herself.

Oddly, I always found a strange comfort in “southern tragedy,” from Faulkner to Lucinda Williams to Mary Karr. My interpretative images may not be true or honest, but they unabashedly turn me on.

Spending a month in Nashville opened my eyes to how easy it is to work with kindred spirits (link to your “our people” blog!). When the connection is right and you work with those whose work you truly connect with, things become astoundingly easy. “Down to earth” I guess is how I want to roll.

Some of my favorite challenges while working for the Daily News were when I was given ten minutes in a drab hotel room to photograph some actor.

The challenges have always been to negotiate making money from art. So I finally created a situation (living wise) that enabled me to jump into just shooting what I wanted to (month in Nashville, for example). Of course, pouring energy and heart and hard work into what I loved, actually made me money I’d never anticipated. But without the backbone of my previous “working ant” photography, this would not have been as beneficial.

My time working as a freelance photographer for a newspaper is one of the most valuable jobs I’ve ever had. Having to work in variety of often poorly lit situations, quickly and efficiently, made me the technically good photographer I am today. This sort of work is a passport in to many worlds, and though it can be physically draining and stressful, is in my opinion, one of the life’s greatest possible jobs.

Surround yourself with generously creative, and inspiring people. Accept that which turns you on, and head down the road in that direction.

I have currently started a book, incorporating my writing with my photography.

You can learn more about Tanya’s work: HERE.

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  1. dml’s avatar

    wow… so nicely put! dml



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