A man studied photography in prison. These are the photos he took when he got out.

When Donato Di Camillo was a kid, his family couldn't afford film for their Polaroid camera.

So instead, he ran around the house with a film-less camera pretending to be a hotshot photographer on an African safari, mimicking the heroes behind iconic photos he saw in the discarded National Geographic magazines his dad grabbed for him out of the garbage.

Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.


He was in pure awe of the photography their pages held inside.

So when he got out of prison in 2011, Di Camillo knew what he wanted to do.

Finally, he was free to try his hand at his own brand of photography. And with a little guidance from some how-to books he read while locked up and a few YouTube tutorials, he went to work.

Pretty quickly, it was obvious he had plenty of talent.

All images by Donato Di Camillo, used with permission.

He began to capture a different side of life than what many people are used to seeing.

He sometimes calls it "the fringe," though he said it's important to him that people know he means no disrespect by that.

His subjects are often homeless, mentally ill, or just larger-than-life characters he encounters as he explores New York.

Di Camillo said his street smarts sometimes help him approach and connect with people other photographers might not.

"These people walk around, and they're faceless," he said. "I feel that everybody deserves a face."

"I think we all relate to each other in one way or another, whether someone's laying in the street or running a Fortune 500 company," he added.

As for people's response to his work, Di Camillo said he doesn't think too much about it.

"Some people don't get it, and that's OK," he said. He just wants to do right by his subjects.

Di Camillo may not be photographing exotic animals in the wilds of Africa, but he's still showing the world things we often don't (or choose not to) see.

"I want [my subjects] to understand that the reason I'm photographing them is because I see something in them that I see in me, or that I think the rest of the world could relate to," he said.

As someone still picking up the pieces after his time in prison, Di Camillo can certainly be proud of the impact he's having in his new life.

Most Shared

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of the late Roy Disney, the co-founder of the Walt Disney Co. Abigail herself does not have a job within the company, but she has made some public complaints about the way things are being run and how it is effecting the employees of the company.

Disney recently spoke on the Yahoo News show "Through Her Eyes," and shared a story of how a Magic Kingdom employee reached out to her about the poor working conditions at the theme park. So, Disney went to see for herself, and she did not like what she found.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wellington District Police

Some animals have no respect for authority. Rogue penguins are disobeying the police in New Zealand, and they can't stop, won't stop.

Two little blue penguins were spotted at Sushi Bi near the Wellington railway station, allegedly trying to nest. The penguins had to cross through busy lanes of traffic running between the harbor and the sushi bar.

The dangerous duo was detained by the police, then released back into Wellington Harbour.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
Magnific Eye / Unsplash

Los Angeles is experiencing a homeless epidemic that was years in the making.

Over the past six years, the unhoused population in the city has risen 75 percent. The city's lack of homeless shelters and affordable housing has forced many who can't afford L.A.'s sky-high rents to live on the streets.

According to LAist, since 2000, renter incomes have decreased by 3 percent while rents have gone up 32 percent.

While the city has launched a $100 million-per-year program to help the problem, rapper, entrepreneur, and actor Jaden Smith has found his own way of responding to the crisis: love.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities