"Let's Talk" with Joseph Corsentino
|Joseph Corsentino is one of those rare and wonderful photographers whose images reach out and grabs the imagination of the viewer. Although many artists have tried to re-create the magic of fairy lore, Joseph has succeeded in capturing their souls, and displaying their inner essence within his amazing fantasy photographs. It is with great pleasure that I introduce the man behind the keeper of the secrets of “When fairies ruled the world" — Joseph Corsentino.|
Although you were raised in Long Island New York, did your birthplace of Bogotá, Columbia (filled with its mixture of prosperity and poverty, ancient and modern art) influence your art?
Being adopted into an Italian family, I didn't fully realize the nature of my heritage until years later. I became interested in ancient South American civilizations on my own. They didn't directly inspire my art, but they stirred my imagination, leaving epic tales of great civilizations living and dying without leaving a trace. Much of this can be found in my art, especially in the alien landscapes.
I understand that, in your youth, you had an overwhelming interest in science, which led to your writing science fiction stories. What were some of the plotlines, and were any of your stories published?
None published yet. A few of the stories are on the edge of being finished to my satisfaction, enough for me to push it to be so. I love stories about people that I’d like to think represent who we are; the dark sides and all the potentials; from vampire stories, to post apocalyptic stories. I like characters with real edge to them in situations that they’d rather not be in. Once you set up those things the stories write themselves.
How has your work transcended from your early years working on amateur motion picture production to becoming a professional photographer?
I still shoot the way I would film. I love cinematography, the storytelling aspect, and setting up a shot to make it work. When I first started photography my goal was to shoot stills from larger movies. Make the shots look like it was just caught, a frame off the negative of a movie. At the same time, it has to tell the story of the film. It’s all about telling stories … but now you only have one frame with which to do it, not two hours of frames.
What kind of camera do you use? Are you still shooting with your original Yaschica 35mm camera that was purchased in 1996? Have you tried your hand at digital photography?
Nothing beats my Yaschica 35mm — fully manual — complete control. There is something that digital cameras cannot yet reproduce and even though I usually end up scanning the negatives into the system, it’s that little difference that makes the image so organic. I have a digital camera and I shoot with it often. It suits many needs and projects. But when I want that extra “ump,” I break out my original Yashica.
Your calendar, Time of Faeries, is an amazing showcase of not only your fantasy photography, but also an intriguing glimpse into the story of the Last Fairy and the Fairy Wars. What inspired you to create your fairy tales?
Time of the Fairies: 2005 Calendar
Well, I’m a fantasy lover with the mind of a science fiction fan and the eye of a photographer. My inspiration came from looking at people around me and seeing their reflection in the mirror of my imagination. A great influence was my friend Lauren who moved me towards fairies and allowed me to see the magic around me. Strazinski, Joseph Campbell, Tolkien of course lent much inspiration to the epic mythology. The art of Brian Froud, Suza Scalora, and Amy Brown made me want to envision my own universe.
Do you plan on writing a graphic novel of the fairy wars? If so, can you give us a preview of its content?
When I think of faeries, I think epic. I think about a time when fairies existed all around us and moved through us — a time before the age of reason and cynicism. Magic bled through the hearts of men and worlds of great spirits, where magic moved the world. That world is very close to my heart and I see it existing many thousands of years ago. The fairy war was the ending of the age of magic, leading to the age of man. I think the pre-fairy world; the fairy wars, the last fairy, and their return into the 21st century are interesting tales to tell. The full book will have much more detail and give a larger scope to fairy lore.
Through the Wings
Illustrators dominate the field of fantasy art, as a photographer, did you have to overcome obstacles to have the art community accept your photographs as “art?”
It’s a constant battle fought in photography. From the beginning of photography in the 19th Century till even now, photography was criticized as not being true art. It's been more accepted now in the 21st century but its still a battle. Fantasy photography is an even more perilous field. People take a look at a picture and dismiss it, “That’s just computer manipulation.” The assumption is that there is no talent, no emotions involved, which is far from being true.
In time, I hope to break that prejudice and perhaps blaze a new trail through the world of fantasy art for other like-minded photographers. It's taken a long time getting this far…trying to create images that have a fantasy look, that tells a story without copying the illustration art that came before…I believe in it and I think this style is unique to both photography and fantasy art, therefore I keep moving forward up that mountain.
Do you use computer enhancements (as in Photoshop), to create your fantasy art images, or is your magic done within the darkroom? Can you give our readers a brief insight into how your fantasy images are created?
When I initially became involved in photography, I had no darkroom access or money to build one. I improvised by getting Photoshop and learning how to tone my images to my own liking. I now use Photoshop for huge alterations as well as little ones. Huge files with multiple layers are used to create some of these images. After the photograph is scanned in, I look at it to see what stories it tells, what its true potential is. Sometimes the story is immediately apparent, sometimes I have to stare at a picture for a long time, and sometimes the image is discarded. Then I figure out the best way to draw out what I see. Sometimes it takes five minutes of simple toning and other times it takes five more images, six hours and some CGI … and several bottles of caffeinated diet coke.
The trick is to not be afraid to play with a new concept, or a new technology. I just received some new programs, Photoshop CS and Lightwave among them, as early Christmas presents. I look forward to discovering what I can do to my art using them. I’m learning new things all the time, trying to find new ways to bring images to life. I don’t like repeating myself.
What worldly influences have inspired your otherworldly works of art?
Well I’m a big film fan, so obviously I list Lord of the Rings, Legend, and Labyrinth among my influences. I also look at people to see what roles they would play in my universe. Sometimes they are faeries … sometimes elves or angels ... sometimes aliens … or vampires … even gumshoes or soldiers … samurai warriors. I just look in the soul and try to capture it. The works of Luis Royo also helped to inspire the canvases I want to make, his 3rd Millennium book effectively changed the way I look at storytelling in one painting. Music can also be a huge influence in my work. If a powerful song engenders strong emotions, it can completely change an image, despite my original ideas.
On a sadder note, within your web site’s art gallery, you have a section devoted to New York City and the tragedy of 911. Your images of the aftermath of that disastrous day are touched with the love of the city and her people. Were you in the city the day the towers fell?
Entrance to Hell
I was on a train from Chicago bound to NYC when it happened. I woke up around 8:45 and went into the breakfast car to eat some Yogurt. We were scheduled for a 3:00 arrival. Suddenly you begin to hear whispers...and they get louder and louder. Eventually the news spread that a small plane crashed into one of the World Trade buildings … and its like whoa what an accident … and then terrorists ... and another plane ... cell phones didn’t work well … very scary for all the immigrants on the train and the foreign tourists who had no idea what to do now that everything stopped in the city.
The police stopped and interviewed us in Albany before we were allowed back in the city at 10 pm. I couldn’t even see any news footage till I walked in my house and turned on the television set, over 12 hours later. I dropped my bag, refueled the camera, picked up my best friend Nadia, and crossed back into Manhattan to see what I could do ... and see what I could see.
The images I shot were documentation of the 30 hours Nadia and I spent in the city. I just wanted to do something, and not be a helpless watcher. By the end of the night I had made it down to the site. I organized a group of people and sent them to search out supplies. I helped set up a small supply corner with masks, food, eye drops, and other necessities for the rescue workers. It was an indescribable scene. I will never forget. I couldn’t have survived that day without Nadia by my side to keep the levity up — a very, scary time. A month later when I returned to view the site, it was still burning — still unbelievable. The pictures helped me cope and helped me share my own feelings and experience on that day with others.
What prompted you to move from New York to Los Angles? How has this move impacted your art?
I had spent most of my life in NY and I wanted to get out and live elsewhere. I felt that my life was getting stale and my art was going nowhere. I wanted to see what it was like to just up and leave and start over, see what I could do without the safety net I had back home. I wanted to challenge myself to grow. Now, six months later, I’m happier than ever. I’m succeeding and creating, living the dream. I followed my heart to love and passion — for art, for love, and for the love of life. I’ve fallen in love with L.A. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, at least not for a few years anyway. In all honesty, why do we do anything? ... "I had to see about a girl."
I had to see about a girl
Do you have any photography or fantasy art secrets that you would be willing to share with our readers?
Creating a photograph, especially a fantasy photograph is all about capturing the moment. The trick is to help it along without forcing it. Get the model into character. Let them play with their wings or costumes or their surroundings. After that, it’s all about running around and capturing faeries. The little magic, surprise moments make photographs alive. That’s what I strive to do.
We invite you to visit
Joseph Corsentino’s web site
to view additional images
of his amazing fantasy artwork!
All images within this article are copyright and used with special permisson from Joseph Corsentino.
Any use of these images without written permission from the artist is prohibited.
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