My apologies to Donato, this interview almost slipped through the cracks. It’s been sitting in my inbox for a few weeks now and just got lost with all the emails I’m getting.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m Donato Alessandro Dell’Api. I am 18 years old and a Senior at North Broward Prep. Born and raised in South Florida. I’m Italian and a little polish. I am the youngest out of three kids. I may be quiet when you first meet me, don’t worry I’ll open up quick. Tell me when and where and I’d love to shoot!
What made you get into photography?
Back in my Freshman year of High school. We have this 2 week period in the year called “Interims.” Out of a whole list of options, none of them were interesting to me. So I took Photography. I never thought of this photography interim, as anything serious. But I was totally wrong; it changed who I am today, and my whole career.
Beginning of 11th grade. I signed up for the beginning photography class. At that time, still had my Sony point and shoot. Learned the very basics of photography. And did little fun shoots. Midway through the year I purchased a Canon XS, my first SLR. I used that for a couple months then decided to sell that, and upgrade to a Canon 50D. I finished 11th grade strong, Shooting and shooting as much as much as possible.
How did you get started?
Senior year rolled around. I moved on to Photography Honors. Then I realized, this is what I want to do with my life. I then started shooting for some of my good friends as practice. Also, since I travel almost every summer that gave me a great opportunity too! Going back to some of my old photos I saw how much I improved and that sold it for me.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I concentrate on portraiture. Seniors, couples, ect. I do shoot some landscapes just for fun while out traveling.
What gear are you using?
I’m a Canon guy-My most recent purchase was a 5d MkII body. I also shoot film here and there, use Canon A2e for that. I have the 50 f/1.4, 100L f/2.8 Macro. My next purchase will be the 135L. Still kept my 50D as a backup body, and to compliment my 15-85mm for wide landscape. A 580exii with pocketwizards for rare off camera shoots.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
My favorite lens and most used is the 50 f/1.4. Now on my 5D, this is the perfect combo. Months ago the USM focus went bad on it, Canon fixed it no problem! That lens is on my camera most of the time. The 135L might have some competition once that is in my bag!
How are you marketing yourself?
The way the internet is now, facebook, flickr, blogs, and photography forums are my way of getting my name out. But most importantly word of mouth. Most of my models are friends of my friends that I have photographed in the past.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
This was a very hard decision but here it is.
From one of my recent shoots. My best friend Michael’s Senior Prom. This was his favorite photo, as well as mine! The way the two photos lined up for the diptych hands down made this my favorite photo I’ve taken!
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
I would not consider myself anywhere near pro just yet. But my advice would be to get your name out and be yourself. Even if that means shooting at your child’s friends birthday party, or a little league baseball game. Parents will come to you for future work, as well as spread the word. Last, be creative with yourself. Using other people’s photos and copying them exactly isn’t the way to go about photography, don’t be something you are not.