artists' profile: camile grace & dominick ricciardi
This artistic power couple has found the proper balance for emotional support and professional push by learning from each other’s strength and celebrating differences in approach to subject matter. While they each have a wide breadth of artistic pursuits, Camile is a writer/director/actor and Dominick is a graphic artist, photography has been a symbolic and practical melding of their passion.
So since you’re both artists, what was your first date like?
(Cam) We went to a park with our cameras. We also wound up writing a song about bees.
(Dom) Well, even before we met I had family members telling me, “Your photography is great, but you should see this girl, Camile’s work.”
So you knew each other before you started dating?
(those achingly long few seconds go by before a couple starts to disagree about a story)
(Cam) We met at a photoshoot for Dominick’s cousin, an amazing opera singer, in 2009---
(Dom) I do not remember this because it’s wrong…We had actually met a couple of years PRIOR at a party where I hit on her.
(Cam) I do not remember this at all.
Ok, less divisive question, how did you wind up connecting with each other? Since you didn’t either of the two plausible times you met…
(Cam) We reconnected at another family party (note to audience: Domnick’s family, the Ricciardis, are a genetic experiment that churned out an exorbitant number of super-human singers). Photography is where we connected. In fact, you are never going to believe this, but I had a dream where I saw Dominick in Macy’s holding a Christmas tree and saying, “Hope you’re taking photos and capturing the world.” So I contacted him through Facebook and he emailed me back, “Hope you’re capturing the world.”
SHUT UP. MIND BLOWN.
(Cam) I swear!
(Taking a few moments to rethink the significance of every dream I’ve ever had in my life) So what about you, Dominick? Are you focused on photography as your primary art form or is it more a prong?
(Dom) When left to my own artistic pursuit, I would say computer art is where I am most expressive. As programmer for P.C. Richard’s, I joke that I do FOIL all day (for anyone not up on algebra, I’ve included a diagram of FOIL).
My last sowing featured abstract graphic art that were meant to function like Rorschach tests for the patrons. When I was showing my work at BAFFA’s gallery (in Long Island, New York), I had index cards all over the exhibit for people to write what they saw in the artwork. Those responses will actually be included in the next printing of my collection.
(To Dominick) How long does each piece take you? And if it’s about the audience deciding on what they’re viewing, how do you keep a vision that’s not too exclusive for others to interpret, but strong enough for you to create?
(Dom) Each piece takes me six hours, roughly. A pattern is repeated and layered thousands of times. Color is added at the end. Sometimes I’ll have a vision, like a monster, and I’ll keep adding and working on it until my vision starts to go away because that’s the point if I keep working on it, I’ll ruin it. For my next series I’m actually going to use symbols and letters to name my pieces. In my most recent collection I used Latin names.
Camile, you mentioned being a writer/director/actor as well as a photographer. What collection of art have you produced that was the most challenging or difficult?
(Cam) I would have to say my “Heart of the Warrior” collection. It focused on women wo had survived breast cancer, undergone mastectomies, and was emotionally stunning for me both as an artist to capture and as a woman to reflect upon.
How did you prepare your subjects for such an emotional project?
(Cam) We first worked from the outside in---hair and make-up, so that the women would feel their best. Then we worked from inside out with affirmations, “I am…” “I fear…” But in order to complete the work I had to take a break. Dominick really helped me detach a little from my subject so I could look at it objectively as an artist.
Do you find each other to be a good source for motivation on a project? How do you help each other as artists? Do you ever butt heads artistically?
(Dom) Absolutely, we motivate each other to keep going to work on new things.
(Cam) And it’s wonderful that we can work together professionally too. Sometimes we’ll cover an event---like as wedding photographers---and we can trust each other because of our respect for the other’s skill level and talent.
(Dom) But at the same time we’re able to follow the other person’s artistic vision and not force our own.
Now, since you’re both photographers, where do your styles differ?
(Dom) I actually refer to a 45 degree angle shot as the “Camile 45.”
(Cam) (laughing) Yes, I do like a tilt on my photos. It makes for an interesting perspective. See, Dom likes the more expansive composition. Like clouds at high F stops. I love high resolution detail and color.
(Dom) And see, I prefer black and white. To me, colors are the real world and black and white is the photographer’s eye.
(Cam) I work in black and white too. Sometimes sepia is the best tone to capture a dream-like state of a moment. I think photography can be about capturing life, like a photojournalist, or it can be about slowing you down to take a closer look.
Since you both do digital photography, where do you stand on editing/photoshopping/airbrushing?
(Cam) I do very intimate portrait work, so I don’t want an extra ten pounds to be distracting, but I also want the photos to be true to the subject. I once had someone in their 50s ask for such extreme airbrushing to make her look like she was in her 20s and I felt like it destroyed the photos because it was a deception instead of a celebration.
(Dom) Portraits are supposed to be better than life.
So final question, what are your tools of choice and why? Have you influenced each other on cameras and other tools?
(Cam) Since the age of seventeen I have been a Canon fan, from my mother’s 35mm from the ‘70s!
(Dom) When we met I went from Canon to Nikon. I was shooting fashion and Nikon offered the highest resolution without hitting a 40K price tag.
(Cam) Right now we’re both using the Nikon D810 with a range of lenses.
What's the range of lenses?
(Cam) The holy trinity; 24 to 70 mm, 70 to 200 mm, 50 mm. And still the classic 35mm.
Okay, so actual final question. What’s your advice to a another couple, both artists, to keep pushing each other, without pushing them away?
(Dom) Since we’ve been together, we’ve both had gallery exhibitions. These can be really stressful times. I think it’s really important to ask the question, “What can I do to take some stress off you?” I’m better on the tech end, she’s better at marketing and organization. We have our strengths… and in the last days of producing a show, our partnership skills shine.
(Cam) Since the beginning of our relationship, whenever I start talking about a concept that’s brewing… Dominick talks to me like it’s already happened. Like it’s in the stars waiting to be manifested. That strong confidence inspires me to see it…feel it…breathe life into it. To not go over the edge…. Know your partner’s signs. Dominick will generally stop me when an idea is dead, and he has no intention of pursuing it further, by simply stating it. Sometimes I take longer to come to that conclusion for myself. I generally say, “Let me think about it,” and he waits for me to bring it up again. And if I do, he knows it’s something that I really want… and not a fleeting idea.