10 minutes with David Leventi

Interviews with Photographers August 29, 2011 8:08 am

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

Thinking way back, the first photography class I took was in High School with Mr. Swayne. The first photograph on the first roll of B&W film I developed myself was an arrangement of Danon/Yoplait yogurts into a pyramid in the fridge. I structured them in the same way I visually organize the grand spaces I photograph today. I guess this series of firsts got me hooked. 

David Leventi

David Leventi

David Leventi

 

Tell me about your project, Opera – I love how you shot the series, allowing us to experience the same view the performer sees. What made you decide to start the project and how did you get access to photograph from the center stage?

 

The first opera house/concert hall I photographed was the Romanian Antheneum in Bucharest, Romania. It was an impressive-looking interior, awe-inspiring, with so many ornate details to look at and you just felt the space. You’re not actually in the space, but you feel it through the picture. You get emotion in the good ones. My grandfather used to stroll around the living room singing. He was a cantor trained by the famous tenor Helge Rosvenge. Because of WWII he never got the chance to perform in many of the famous opera houses I photographed. For me, the act of taking a picture with an 8×10 large format camera from center stage is a performance in itself. In homage to my grandfather, I guess you can say I’m living out our dreams. The most sacred part of an opera house is center stage and singers spend years honing their voice for the opportunity to perform before a full house. Nobody takes it lightly when you ask for a couple hours alone on sacred ground (especially a photographer). Persistence and getting the right person on the phone was a big help. After I photographed a few, the project snowballed and access got a lot easier.

David Leventi

David Leventi

David Leventi

David Leventi


Are you currently working on any personal projects?

 

I’m working on a number of personal projects that will remain nameless for the time being. However, I’m just about finished with photographing domed prisons that are architecturally similar to opera houses. Also, I’ve been busy finishing up my project on Romania. In a couple of weeks I should have The Securitate secret police file on my great-grandfather.

 

David Leventi

David Leventi

David Leventi

Which photographers are inspiring you right now?

 

Andreas Gursky, Taryn Simon, Frederick H. Evans, Alexey Titarenko, Simon Roberts, amongst others.

 

David Leventi

David Leventi

David Leventi

(David is based in New York City. See more of his work, here)

3 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing this work! I love the Romania images; I lived there ten years ago for a year and a half. I returned to the US three weeks after 9/11 (which occurred while I was high on a mountain in the Polish Tatras). David’s work brings back both happy and sad memories of my time there. A beautiful and highly under-photographed country and people.

    • Thanks for your comment, Holly! I too love David’s photos of Romania. I have never been there but it looks extraordinary. xokate

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