Dan Burn-Forti is the serious photographer with a sense of humour who prefers to shoot pets, personalities and peculiarities, not just pretty faces.
Unconcerned with capturing character in a single snap, focused much more upon representing an individual with a more surface-level perspective, DBF Is a big fan of the outtake. Biding his time, shooting from this angle then that, this Mamiya RZ 67 wielding documentarist, famously waits for an off-guard moment to immortalize his subjects. Describing his process he explains “whether it’s a portrait, a still life or a landscape, I hope that my photographs might look as if they had been taken by an alien, as if by someone who had never encountered that thing before.“ An impressive portfolio, which contains front cover commissions featuring an eclectic array of faces from 50 Cent to Vincent Cassel, James Mccavoy to Maggy Thatcher and Gordon Brown for The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Esquire and The Creative Review, Dan is finely skilled in the art of keeping a straight face. Also the proud father of two little lads and husband to one time i-D cover girl, Michelle Le Gare (No. 89, The Communication Issue), DBF is a digital photographer with finesse and prowess. i-D online caught up with the man of refined tastes to find out what and who is giving him the eye.
Do you remember the first picture you ever took? I’m not sure if it’s the first, but I remember taking odd perspective pictures with myDdad, where we had a digger in the background looking like it was eating out of someone’s hand, and split reflections shots, like the old comedian Harry Worth used to do. But I’m not sure if I was taking them or I was in them, I remember thinking they were rather great though.
Do you remember the first photograph you were inspired by? I used to love album covers when I was growing up, and my absolute favorite was On the Beach by Neil Young; mysterious and silly with lovely colours.
Who is the most beautiful person you have ever taken a picture of? First choice would have to be my beautiful wife (i-D cover girl no less, waaay back in Feb ‘91) followed closely by my sadly departed dog, Billie, who was truly magnificent, but for humans that don’t live in my house, I would say Michelle Ryan who was bloody gorgeous.
How do you describe your signature style? As with most things, I can trace all my influences back to my youth – that Neil Young cover, the music of Talking Heads, Blue Velvet by David Lynch and the moment that the Six Million Dollar Man woke up in hospital and looked at his arm which wasn’t his arm. Hard to describe, but it freaked me out. These and numerous other things brewed in me a love of the ‘outside looking in’ way of looking at things. That and a belief that human life is all nonsense really and that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.
How do you feel when photographed? Incredibly uncomfortable, self-conscious and awkward. I’ve no idea why people agree to do it.
If you could pass on any advice to aspiring photographers what would this be? Try to find a method to show the way you see the world in your pictures. Don’t spend too much time looking at other photographers’ work, but take millions of pictures yourself and look for your world view in those.
What makes a good picture? A good photographer? No, sorry, no idea. It’s completely unquantifiable, like all art forms. As they say, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, or as it was answered in a radio quiz, ‘beauty is in the eye of the tiger’.
Photography Dan Burn-Forti
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