The astonishing New York street photographer who taught himself while in prison
Donato Di Camillo has a had a difficult life but he’s doing everything he can to live the best he can.
Born in Brooklyn New York, Di Camillo is one son of three siblings with the parents of Italian Immigrants. At the age of nine, he witnessed his best friend killed when they played in the street. “As a child, I witnessed a lot of traumatic things,” he said in an interview with Feature Shoot. “I saw my first friend die at the age of nine, right by my feet,” he added before explaining how the child was fatally struck by a passing car.
It was from that moment on Di Camillo’s behavioural problems would spiral. His anger problems would see him expelled from school, New York street life developing more toxic and, eventually, he succumbed to a stint in jail. While he would never detail the misdemeanour that led him to be incarcerated, he will openly admit that it was this time inside that led to a major change in his life.
“I was always interested in magazines like National Geographic and LIFE,” he explained while talking to Lens Culture. Di Camillo was eventually released from prison in 2012. Upon his release, he was armed with a wealth of knowledge having spent hours reading and teaching himself how to use a camera, studying relentlessly.
As part of the conditions relating to his release, the photographer remained in home confinement. During this time, he was finally able to get a camera in his hands. The moment came for him to hone his craft. What ensued was a series of images taken from within the 120ft limitations of his home.
Now, transferring his street life skills learnt in a different life, Di Camillo is telling the story of New York street life.
Below, enjoy some images from his series and listen to Di Camillo’s story as part of the Real Photo Show.