The Urban Eye of Dominic Bugatto

Dominic Bugatto was born in Bradford, England but moved to Montreal with his family early on in his childhood, where he spent his formative years growing up. He’s currently based in Toronto where he lives with his wife & two kids. He works primarily as an illustrator/designer for newspapers and magazines. He’s been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and Vanity Fair and has also been featured in Taschen Books Illustration Now vol 5.

What got you into photography and what did you capture in your first pictures?
Photography has always played a role in my illustration work, it was a skill set I often called upon to research and reference pieces I was illustrating.

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How have you evolved from those pictures and why do you photograph today?
Over time, it has become my primary source of creating images for myself. It’s a very personal form of expression for me that doesn’t cede to the demands and expectations of a client. As with many Photographers, having had children I started documenting my day to day life to a greater degree also, I started bringing a camera with me everywhere. Propelled by the unreliable nature of memory, I needed those tangible markers in my life.

How do you manage your time with illustration/design and photography?
Whether it’s a camera or a smartphone, I have either one on my person, I’m always capable of making pictures if the moment arises or something catches my eye. It becomes a mindset, a subconscious action like breathing. I think that when you’re out in the world as an artist/photographer, you’re constantly in that mindset, whether you like it or not.

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How does illustration influence your photography? Do you have similar sources of inspiration to do both?
There’s certainly a lot of overlap between my illustration work and my Photography. I derive my inspiration from a lot of the same sources like cinema, music, Graphic Novels, Pop Culture.

“It’s a very personal form of expression for me that doesn’t cede to the demands and expectations of a client”.

It all gets distilled and parked somewhere in the recesses of my brain only to re-surface in one form or another when I’m creating illustrations or framing a picture through the viewfinder. You’re essentially training yourself to respond and interpret the world, in some ways the medium is secondary.

Let’s talk about the street scene and places you like to go. Do you prefer to shoot in the whirlwind of the downtown area or rather in quiet suburbs?
I’ll gravitate to all places when it comes to making pictures, even the chaos that is the city can have its quiet moments. I live in Toronto, a fairly large metropolis, so there’s a palpable energy here that keeps things fresh.

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Could you recommend us a photography related venue in Toronto?
There’s a lot of great places to take in Photography in Toronto, some of my faves are The AGO ( great Outsiders show on now which includes Winogrand, Frank, Arbus, Goldin, Parkes), Stephen Bulger Gallery, Black Cat – Artspace,  Jane Corkin and Bau-XI to name but a few.

Like most major cities, Toronto has a pretty thriving Street Photography community. Many of whom I’ve corresponded with or met, and are generally nice folks.

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What do you think of the massive amount of streetstyle images that we have come across in the past few years? How do you feel it has affected the street photography scene ?
We live in an era that has been documented/photographed like no other, it’s both exciting and overwhelming. It can be a challenge sometimes to cut through the predominantly mediocre images out there to find the good stuff.

What can you tell us about this photograph?
I’ve always had a soft spot for this picture, in a lot of ways I think it sums up the vibe and beauty of the city I live in.

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Do you have a movie that inspires you?
A lot of movies inspire me as a Photographer, a primary influence would be the films of Wim Wenders, especially Paris Texas, it’s akin to a two hours photo-book committed to celluloid. A stunning visual film with wonderful understated performances and a thoughtful script.

A book that you recommend?
Two recent books I’ve bought that I can’t seem to put down are  Frame – Photographs by Mark Cohen and The Hollow Of The Hand by Seamus Murphy and PJ Harvey.

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What are your current and futures projects?
This time last year I was enjoying my first solo Photography show that was part of the Contact Photography Festival it involved many months of preparation to put on. A wonderful experience that certainly taught me a lot. I’m presently just focussed on making more pictures and seeing where they take me. I genuinely love the process, so that gives me a lot of pleasure and peace of mind.

And last but not least, what is your favorite photo website(s)?
There’s a plethora of great sites out there to feed the hunger, one of my faves is the LPV Show blog, insightful interviews with talented photographers and enough book recommendations to keep you on your toes.

To see more of Dominic’s work, visit his website & flickr.

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