Professional Firefly & Photographer Tanya Braganti Sheds Sparks
TANYA BRAGANTI’s impromptu shots of nature, animals, and humans bridge a familiarity and artistic cunning in which the subject has allowed an intimate audience for a milli-second. 📸 She alights a moment with MACHAMUX Gallery to illuminate us on her magic.
Portrait of Tanya Braganti © PHILIP JONES GRIFFITHS
tanya, We’re excited for your upcoming show at machamux, “animals are the new celebrities!” Who gave you your first camera?
My father gave me my first instamatic camera in the 70s with a square four-shot flash cube. I liked to photograph my stuffed animals. He also had a darkroom in the basement and taught me how to develop and print my own pictures. Though I was quite young, I felt the process was powerful, almost like being a God.
Your portraits have a compelling element in which it seems the subject is making eye contact not only with you, but soul-contact...
Thank you. If I had my way, I would just ‘firefly’ around, interacting with people’s lives and trying to capture their essence, or a holy piece of themselves they want to share. It’s a natural feeling and fueled by the thrust that every moment is precious. It still seems like complete magic that we are able to stop a moment and keep it.
You were raised in Marblehead, Massachusetts and spent many years living and working in New york city. How do you feel this time changed you as an artist? Now you’ve returned to live in Marblehead — has your eye changed?
I actually spent twenty-one years in New York City. I was fortunate enough to work with some amazingly talented photographers and humanitarians: people for whom the camera is a tool for making a true, revealing connection with others. My favorite photography is NYC street photography. You can literally stand on any corner and the most amazing moments will unfurl in front of you.
With returning to my hometown, I try to capture the ephemeral intoxication of a childhood by the sea.
YOU LIVED IN CHELSEA WHICH IS THE “GALLERY DISTRICT” IN NEW YORK, ESPECIALLY AT THE TIME YOU RESIDED THERE. HOW DO YOU THINK HAVING YOUR STUDIO JUST DOWN THE STREET FROM ALL THE GALLERIES INFLUENCED YOUR WORK?
I worked for a gallery in SoHo when I first moved to New York and, to be honest, it really turned me off to that world. I was more drawn to photojournalists and had opportunities to assist and shoot for Magnum photographers. Phillip Jones Griffiths, in particular, was my mentor. He not only had a passion to share the power and mechanics of photography to anyone who wanted to learn, but truly believed the passing-on of information was what would keep our humanity going. He was completely unselfish with his knowledge, darkroom and camera equipment. Ultimately (Phillip, aside) I found that many art and photojournalist worlds were Men’s Clubs.
You photographed a slew of celebrities shooting for the New York Daily News back in the 00s. Who was your most memorable portrait of?
My childhood idol, Shirley Jones ;)
amazing how some things come full circle!
well thanks for resting your wings a spell with us tanya, we’ll keep an eye out for you with the wind.
Yours truly, @machamuxgallery