In focus

Photographs by David Bravo and Bob Rozycki

David Bravo’s lens captures more than what you see at first glance.

That is the heart of the work of the Fairfield-based photographer – and what has kept him in business for more than 25 years.

In “Intersections: David Bravo Photographs,” his third book, the spotlight shines not only on his creative work but also on the innovative work of The Kennedy Center. All proceeds of the book’s sales are to benefit the work of the Trumbull-based rehabilitation organization that serves people with disabilities and has a special connection to the Bravo family.

“Intersections” truly is a project that connects on many levels, as do the photographs of Bravo, who has worked for this magazine over the years.

A Fairfield native who found his love of photography as a teenager (“Two weeks into this I said, ‘I’m doing this for the rest of my life,’”) he honed his skills through a combination of community college, the Merchant Marine and traveling the world.

His training, influences and perspective come together every day but also are reflected in the pages of the book.

On the surface, it’s a paperback portfolio of sorts for Bravo, who has shot U.S. presidents and Academy Award-winning actors, Fortune 100 brands and CD covers.

There are portraits depicting some very familiar faces. But for every singer named José Feliciano, actor named Chazz Palminteri or designer named Josie Natori, there’s an equally captivating shot of those perhaps lesser-known – an elegant older woman, regal in her summer hat; a daring skateboarder captured in mid-flight; or a confident bride nearly strutting from a classic car.

It’s all about capturing and translating how Bravo sees the world.

“It’s life, what it’s like to be human and walk this earth,” Bravo says of the book, which he says celebrates the “quiet pockets of the mundane.”

But what might seem straightforward somehow takes on deeper meanings here, such as the dramatic shot over the Long Island Sound, all clouds and purple hues, that on closer inspection reveals a small sailboat nearly dwarfed by the sky. Then there is the intimate and quiet beauty of a single rose, though past its prime still stunning in its dew-drenched simplicity.

It’s perhaps in the many faces, though, that the story behind the book really comes out.

And family plays a big part in that, starting with Capt. Hector Bravo, David’s father. Early in his career, when Bravo had just opened his first studio and his father was recently retired from the Merchant Marine, a pivotal moment came.

“My mother said, ‘Hector, while that uniform still fits you, let David do your portrait.’”

The success of that shot spurred him on. Bravo’s mother is also seen in “Intersections.” The late Eileen St. Clair Bravo, who with his father was an untiring supporter of The Kennedy Center, offers a warm, kind smile.

Also featured throughout are more than a few photographs of Bravo’s son, 5-year-old Isaiah. If you know David, you know his constant companion and maybe favorite subject.

But it’s the photograph of David’s late brother, Hawkins “Hawky” Bravo that speaks most directly to the book’s charitable element.

“My brother Hawkins, we called him Hawky, was the glue to our family,” Bravo says. Hawkins, who had Down Syndrome, passed away in 2007 at age 52. He had been served by The Kennedy Center for years. One literal way was in helping him find work.

Bravo recalls how his brother would proudly say “I’m getting my paycheck.”

It was earning something far beyond the money. “He felt like a man,” Bravo says.

In all, David says his brother was both a “beneficiary and great success story” of The Kennedy Center.

The book is one way Bravo is saying thanks.

And it’s something that the organization’s president and CEO, Marty Schwartz, recognizes and appreciates –
the unwavering support of the Bravo family.

“It’s great that David is continuing the tradition,” Schwartz says. “He’s an enthusiastic supporter of The Kennedy Center, and he’s been a very valuable supporter.”

Again, it’s Bravo using his camera to serve his art – and others.

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I have been blessed taking pictures for my career,” he says. “I think of a guy roofing a house in July…”

For more on David Bravo and the book, visit davidbravo.com. For more on the Kennedy Center, visit thekennedycenterinc.org.

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