Brooklyn to Austin / Photos of RevelationLarry Racioppo
When I started photographing in 1971, I had no idea what I was doing, but I really enjoyed it. I gradually realized that I felt sharper and more aware of everyday life in my South Brooklyn neighborhood when I had my camera with me. As I began learning about the craft and art of photography, I was influenced by Robert Leverant's book Zen in the Art of Photography. "A camera is an extension of ourselves. An appendage to bring us closer to the universe." Looking at the small black and white prints I made in my storefront darkroom, I was surprised to see so many images depicting religious expression. I thought that I had moved on from my Italian-American Catholic upbringing, but there floating up to the surface was the proof of my ongoing interest in religion and working class life. I have continued working on these topics not only in Brooklyn but throughout NYC ever since.
I rarely travel, but my wife and I recently spent a week in Austin, Texas helping her younger sister with her home. We worked pretty steadily but got away for one afternoon to visit the downtown neighborhood of Holly. As we walked around I spoke to several people and took photos.
That evening when I looked at what I had shot, I was amused to see that I had made exactly the same kind of images that I have been making at home in NYC for the past 40 years.
I had photographed shrines and small churches (It is much easier with a cell phone than an 8x10 Deardorff.) and two people — a man with an Our Lady of Guadalupe tattoo on his forearm and an 'outsider' artist who surrounded his home with a 'fence' of toy cars. I have an interest in religion and people that I cannot shake. Once again, as they always have, my photos revealed me to myself.
About the Author
Larry Racioppo continues to photograph throughout NYC but is spending a lot of time lately in his Rockaway studio scanning negatives for BEFORE THE GOLD RUSH his photo book about South Brooklyn in the late 1970's.
His web site is larryracioppo.com