Niche Of Wonders: Dan Bannino And His 'Pop-Renaissance' Photography

Rosie Tobutt

Dan Bannino is an Italy-based photographer whose strong passion for photography and art culminates in an extraordinary aesthetic. We spoke with the artist to learn more about what inspires him.

Alice Cooper – Golf

How and why did you get into photography?

I’m a self-taught photographer but with photography in my DNA – my mother worked as a developer in a photography studio, and my uncle was a professional photographer himself. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a child, but this passion became a proper job four years ago. I moved to London in 2011, where I’ve worked as an in-house photographer for a boutique and then as a product photographer for a big research company. Two years ago, I decided to quit my job and move to the Italian countryside to work on my own projects. Luckily, I had good feedback and photography became my 24/7 occupation.

I wanted to be a photographer because I couldn’t see any other “option” – this is the only thing that I love doing every single day and I’ll do it for the rest of my life.
Whose work most influences your photography?

I’m a melting pot of my favorite artists. All of them at some points in my life have been an inspiration or a push to perfection. But if I had to name a few on the photography side, they would be Irving Penn, Man Ray, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Tim Walker.

Taylor Swift – Cats and Snowballs

How would you describe your style?

I always liked to describe myself as a painter, but rather than using brushes I use lights and the camera to recreate my imagination. Just as it was for the old masters, light and colors are fundamental in my pictures. Someone recently described my work as Pop-Renaissance, since I’m mixing in my photos popular culture facts and Old Masters’ style.
What inspires you?

Behind great pictures there are always great ideas. Similarly, behind every shoot there are days, weeks, and even months of research. Everyday life and online news always give me huge inspiration for telling a story. I find inspiration from books, music, and movies. I also spend a bunch of time visiting exhibitions since I’m a huge art lover.

Nikki Sixx – Photography

What is the inspiration behind your latest project, Niche of Wonders?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a documentary about Alice Cooper, where at some point, it was underlined how the incredible ‘master of horror’ found himself addicted to playing golf. I thought this was a brilliant contrast between his character on stage and his private life. I couldn’t resist doing some research on this topic, discovering more about my favorite musicians, especially what they do when the stage curtains close. Most of these artists are my personal favorite rock stars. The rest of them just came naturally – I knew a few like Nikki Sixx, Mozart, and Sinatra, but for the other artists I did some research, as I usually do when I’m developing a concept. I then picked the most iconic and interesting ones. Spanning from the first real ‘rock stars’ in history (Mozart) to Taylor Swift, and not forgetting musicians that defined music genres such as Sinatra and Grandmaster Flash. I still have a few on my list that I want to portray, and I’ll probably jump on those soon.

Frank Sinatra – Crosswords Solving, Italian Pesto and Jack Daniel’s

Who has been your favorite ‘rock star’ to research and represent in one of your ‘niches’?

I’m a rocker (long hair, earrings, and beard included!), so I like most of all Nikki Sixx’s, Alice Cooper’s, Roger Daltrey’s, and Jack White’s shoot. But I always think that my next photo will be my favorite.
What made you specifically choose ‘rock star’ musicians for your project?

When I work on personal projects, I’m always taking inspiration from things I like, so this time I wanted to show a key passion in my life, music. I wanted to tell something new about rock stars, and I’ve decided to do it in my own way. I wanted to convey the idea of portraying a ‘niche,’ a part of their life, as if they were allowing us to take a peek into their Chamber of Wonders (Wunderkammer).

Jack White – Taxidermy Collection

You did a project on the diets of popular celebrities (Still Diet) – what interests you about our perception of celebrities versus their private lives?

Everyone wants to know the secrets behind a celebrity and the small details are the greatest, because they make them more ‘human.’ We always see the stars as ‘unreachable’ beings, but what I like to point out is how much we are similar to each other and how we all struggle and rejoice in the same things.
Do you have any other upcoming projects?

I’m actually planning to add more shoots to this series, but of course, I’m always working on new ideas!

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