Catch up with Photographer Dan Bassini
Brought to you by our partner at Talenthouse.
Film photographer, Dan Bassini (@danbassini) has been places-lots of places. You may recognize him as the creator and photographer behind “No Invite”, the series “focused on capturing the spirit of Fashion Week by whatever means necessary.” With the recent release of its fourth volume, No Invite has grown into something much bigger and we’re sitting down with Bassini to discuss its evolution and future. Check out our last interview with Bassini here.
Interviewer Mayah Taylor (@mayah) is Ello’s Community & Social Media Specialist. She loves tacos, fashion, Doctor Who, and wears too much black.
Pssst: Grab yourself a copy of No Invite Vol. 4 now and visit Throne Watches in Brooklyn, NY to see it up close and personal.
Hi, Dan. It’s been a minute! Tell us what you’ve been up to lately?
Yes! I believe the last time we spoke was over a year ago while I was releasing Vol. 2. Things have been busy, Summer came and went and now its almost Winter and I can’t really tell where the time’s gone. This was a big year for getting my work out into the world. I just hung my third solo show in NYC this year of my work from the No Invite series, as well as a group show full of talented friends in Jersey City. It’s been really great to see my work printed and on a wall, as opposed to just living on the internet. That's part of the reason I started making photo books, it's nice to have a completed idea that you can hold in your hands.
You’ve seen “No Invite” grow from its first issue to your most recently released fourth volume. What’s different this time? How has your process changed, if at all?
The first issue of No Invite was basically a means to an end. I had a group of photos I collected from two seasons of fashion week that I hadn’t really posted anywhere and decided to put them together into what became No Invite. The photos were taken without any forethought on where they would end up, so when I started putting them together into a book, I had to crop some horizontal photos into verticals and be really mindful not to affect the photo quality too much. Ever since Vol. 2, I’ve gone into fashion week knowing I’m shooting for a book and framing things accordingly. Any single page is shot vertical, and horizontal shots are used for spreads. I have to go out and make sure I shoot enough spreads to act as breaks so the books aren’t just portrait after portrait. I’ve gotten a lot pickier with what goes into the book, Vol. 2 came together from just 6 rolls of film, while Vol. 4 came from around 14 rolls. My vision for the books has gotten much more focused. There are some great photos that I absolutely love, that I’ve had to leave out because it just didn’t fit the layout.
I’m loving the photo you’ve captured of rapper Cardi B. What was the most notable behind the scenes photograph you’ve shot for Vol. 4? Who gave you the experience to remember during this Fashion Week?
A moment that stuck out to me during this recent fashion week was during the John Elliott fashion show. The location was a mystery to anyone without an invitation until about an hour before the show when they teased a photo of a skatepark bowl on their Instagram which I was able to identify as the Pier 62 skatepark. A friend and I hopped on the subway and booked it to the piers. When we got there, we were only one of about 4 other photographers. Justin Bieber showed up with Hailey Baldwin and Lebron James. After the show, I walked with them to the parking garage where Justin took his shoe off and handed it to Lebron to sign through the window of his SUV which was hilarious to see. None of the photos of Bieber even made it into the book.
Arguably, there are a lot of photographers shooting fashion week each season. Your work, however, always stands out to me. How do you feel you’ve been able to create a unique “voice” and style with your photography over the years? What sets “No Invite” apart?
There is an actual insane amount of people shooting fashion week and I feel it grows exponentially every season. Though so many people jockeying for the shot can make things difficult, there were some moments this year that it actually came in handy. A great example was during the Coach show this year which is notoriously annoying with how they handle photographers. Every year they try to wrangle everyone up into a gated off pen which ends up not being anywhere near where the guests are arriving and is always a big headache. This year they were overwhelmed with photographers that they couldn’t control the mob and it spiraled into chaos. It allowed me to pretty much go wherever I wanted undeterred and was able to grab some great shots. We’ll see how much longer that lasts before security makes things truly unpleasant and difficult.
I feel like my photography style has been sharpened over the years from working within the limitations I’ve created for myself. I could bring my digital camera and shoot with long lenses and have infinite options but instead, I’ve chosen to make my life difficult haha. In most cases my only options are film stock and whether I want the flash on or off. Since my camera has a fixed 35mm lens, I need to get real close to my subjects. In most cases for me to get a headshot, I’m usually about two feet away. This definitely isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with celebrities, but it is definitely a perspective that not too many people are able to get.
What’s next for No Invite? Where would you like to see it go?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. With Vol. 5 on the horizon, I would love to start pitching to publishers about doing a hardcover compendium of the work I’ve created for the project so far. No Invite has been a completely self-funded and self-published operation. It would be amazing to work with a budget and a team that could provide things like PR. I would love to continue showing my work in a gallery setting as well. The most recent show I put up in conjunction with the release of Vol. 4 consisted of over two hundred prints.
I’m sure you’ve been able to learn even more about your creative process with the continued growth of “No Invite”. What are some more tips for aspiring photographers or anyone who’s inspired by fashion?
Best advice I’ve found is that no one is going to hand you anything. Luck will only get you so far, and very rarely will opportunities just fall into your lap. It’s such a cliche that you have to be “hungry” for it, but it has its truths. Go to events that align with the work you want to make and meet everyone you can. Both the fashion world and the photography world is so much smaller than you’d imagine, so don’t be an asshole. Most importantly, go out and shoot!
Most of my work these days is created using a Yashica T4 and a Contax T2, both of which are over twenty-five years old now, fairly unreliable, and expensive to replace. In fact, my beloved T2 bit the dust this recent season and it still hurts. So I guess my dream camera would be a Yashica T4 that didn’t turn me into an anxious stress-case.
Who do you admire, and why?
Lately, I’ve been really loving the work of Daniel Arnold and Chris Maggio. Both from NYC, Arnold is a prolific street photographer, while Maggio does more lo-fi conceptual work that is subtly surreal. I’ve been following them for years, but both of them have recently been getting jobs from the likes of Vogue and the New York Times to shoot different events in their own signature style. It’s great to see publications taking chances on people shooting things in a unique way and giving the artist more creative control.
What advice do you wish you had when you first created "No Invite" ?
I guess the answer that would have made my life a bit easier is to be better at asking for the contact info of the people I’m photographing. I’m still not great at it and don’t even know the names of three out of the four people on the cover of my books. Sometimes things are moving so fast that there isn’t much time to stop and exchange info. One positive to that though, it keeps me a bit less-biased as to who I photograph because I’m focused more on their style and attitude rather than their status.
Want to see more work by Dan Bassini and “No Invite” Vol. 4? Check him out here.
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