By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The majesty and mystery of Mother Nature have been captured by the camera of Dyker Heights photographer Robert DeSantos, whose work is currently in display at Baboo Gallery in Chelsea.
DeSantos, an up-and-coming photographer still in his 20s, has four photos in the exhibition that opened April 10 at the Baboo Gallery at 37 West 20th St. and is running for the next four weeks. He is one of a handful of talented photographers whose work is featured in the exhibition. It marks the first public showing of his photographs.
DeSantos’s photos are the result of a five-day trip he recently took to Arizona. Armed with his Nikon camera, he shot pictures of canyons, rock formations, and other sites of natural beauty. “The colors and shapes of the rock formations are amazing,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It looks like sandstone. And when the sun hits them, the rock formations turn all different colors. Nature does its own thing.”
The images of the rock formations, with vibrant colors that seem to burst right off the frame, are especially striking. At different times of the day, the rocks are different colors. In one photo, DeSantos’s camera captured a rock formation bursting with a rainbow of bright colors, including orange. The photograph looks like it could be a Georgia O’Keefe painting.
He also shot black and white photographs of a canyon called Horse Shoe Bend which has the Colorado River running through it.
DeSantos, who has lived his whole life in Brooklyn, said he enjoyed being face to face with nature. “I’ve wanted to take this trip for three or four years. I know that other photographers have gone out there,” he said. While he admires the pictures other photographers have taken in the West, he wanted to see what images he could capture. “I wanted to do something different,” he said.
He fitted his Nikon with an 11 millimeter lens so that he could get in the expansive views of the countryside.
Still, the camera doesn’t always see what the naked eye sees, he admitted. “The picture is not going to do it justice. You really have to see it in person,” he said.
But he comes close.
When asked what he would like the gallery viewer to take away from his photographs, DeSantos said that he hoped the viewer would be transfixed by the beauty and power of nature.
The trip marked a departure for DeSantos, who works at Photo Op, a photography studio in Manhattan. His job largely entails photographing people. “Still portraits are my job. It’s fun. You’re capturing a moment in time,” he said. He enjoys making a living in photography because it’s an enduring art form. “People are always going to want picture of their kids and their family,” he said. Photo Op http://www.photoopnyc.com/ has two studios, at 442 Columbus Ave. on the Upper West Side, and at 1475 Third Ave., on the Upper East Side.
DeSantos, a graduate of Midwood High School, studied photography at Saint John’s University and at the International Center for Photography. “But mostly, I taught myself. I took pictures and picked up tips from other photographers. You learn by doing,” he said.
Among the great photographers whose work he admires is Ansel Adams. The great 20th Century photographer (1902-1984) captured memorable black and white images of the American West. His pictures, including shots of Yosemite National Park, have been reproduced countless times for calendars, posters, and books.
DeSantos points to his grandfather Henry DeSantos, who hailed from Brazil, as his most influential teacher. “He took photographs every day. It was such an inspiration, seeing him at work,” he said.
Does DeSantos have any advice for young people seeking careers in photography? “I would tell them it’s not easy!” he said. “I would tell them to keep shooting. Stay imaginative. You have to keep at it,” he said. He also has advice for people on the other side of the camera lens. “A lot of people get tense when they’re in front of the camera. Just relax and be yourself,” he said.
For more information on the exhibition, call Baboo Gallery at 212-727-2727.