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Shooting Red Rocks Amphitheater - Photo Courtesy of Charles Dunn


Chasing Trump with American Babylon

Photo Courtesy of Bryan Sanders


My "official" Press ID issued to me by the NYPD 

Photo Courtesy of Some Prick at the New York Police Dept.

Polaroid of me shooting for 17 Magazine in the 1980s
  Photo Mary Clark, Seventeen Magazine

Self Portrait 

Photo Courtesy of Me


  • 1974 - Present: Freelance Photographer

  • 2000 - 2007: Photo Editor-in-Chief of Live Sounds Magazine

  • 2002 - Haynes Fellowship Award, Masters Candidate,Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

  • 2000 - Graduated UCLA, Magna Cum Laude: Bachelor of Arts, American History, and African American Studies - Los Angeles, CA.

  • 1999 - Golden Key National Honor Society.

  • 1998 - Phi Alpha Theta, Theta-Upsilon Chapter

  • 1998 - CRLA Tutoring Certificate, Level 1, received from California Reading & Learning Association

  • 1997 - Academic Achievement Award - Department of Ethnic Studies, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA.

  • 1995 - Award of Excellence - Ventura Art Directors Association, Ventura, CA.

  • 1995 - Citation of Excellence Award - Santa Barbara Art Directors Association

  • 1994 - Congratulatory letter from President Bill Clinton in conjunction with work and time volunteered to "The Spirit of Giving Foundation" - Kuschall of America, Oxnard, CA. 

  • 1989 - Photo Editor for SPIN Magazine, New York City, NY.  

Shows and Exhibitions 

00 A - 00 .jpg

"Through These Eyes"
African American Artists Living and Working in Los Angeles.  Permanent Collection, UCLA African American Library - 1998 Portraits of 8 iconic African American artists living & working in LA. 

Laughing .jpg


"A Photo Study of the Ary of Losing It" 

LAGNAF Gallery, Santa Monica, CA  -  2004

Sixteen Photos Celebrating the Loss of Self-Control  


"In Plain Sight"

Mexicano|Chicano Stories in San Diego"  La Jolla Historical Society - 2018


"Chicano Park: The Urban Forest"

San Diego History Center in Balboa Park, San Diego CA - 2018

27 photos covering a 31 ft x 9ft curved wall.


​I didn't set out to be a photographer. I took it up by default. I wanted to make movies. So I looked into getting into film schools.


After dropping out of high school and coming from a family living on Phoenix's Westside, below the poverty line, I came to the harsh realization that I would never, ever, ever become a film maker. So at the age of twenty, my movie career was over before it ever began. I would never get the chance or opportunity to thank the Academy

But then I discovered Hipgnosis, the photo-design company behind some of my favorite album covers ever produced; Pink Floyd‘s mysterious black prism, Led Zeppelin‘s flaxen-haired nudist children, AC/DC‘s censored everyday villains, Black Sabbath‘s copulating escalator robots, Peter Gabriel‘s melted grilled-cheese face, and EVERYTHING by Genesis.


Hipgnosis helped me realize that I could create little cinematic vignettes in a single frame photo.  My father had been a photographer, and he had a complete darkroom; plus most my friends were musicians and in bands. So I set out to become a photographer; a rock n roll photographer to be more specific. So how does one go about that exactly with no money on the Westside of Phoenix? 

I began photographing all my musician friends posing and playing, and then spending hours and hours working in the darkroom learning my craft from figuring what I did wrong and correcting it for the next time. I taught myself photography through my mistakes. It was painful and tiring (and also costly), but it was also working. I got better and better as I continued. 


Eventually I came to realize that most of the musicians I knew were almost as broke as I was and this was not going to be a viable way to pay my rent.  

My girlfriend at the time was naturally  beautiful. Tall, long blonde hair, big blue eyes; she had been approached several times by modeling agencies but had no desire to pursue it as a profession.  I convinced her to let me shoot some "headshots" of her and then took those photos to the local agency where they were so impressed they began hiring me to photograph the new models who needed "professional" pics. I began being paid to shoot photos. Thanks mostly to the natural good looks of my former girlfriend, I was now "A Pro!"  

When the local department stores, ad agencies, and art directors began seeing my photos popping up in the models' portfolios, I began receiving job offers. I soon was working for some of the top clients in the Valley of the Sun. I also began shooting covers for the local alternative newspaper, The New Times. I had a downtown photo studio and an uptown house. I was living large.

At age twenty-five, and full of ignorant confidence, I decided to go to New York City and test the market out. I found a job at a discount catalogue house that was more of a factory than studio. I found myself paired with a couple of Russian immigrants photographers who could barely speak English. Together we grounded out page after page of catalogue work.  I did still lifes of furniture using an 8x10 Dierdorf wooden camera. I photographed food using a 2-1/4 Hasselblad. I shot fashion with live models with 35 mm Nikons.


I began staying after closing time and shooting test shots with the models for theirs' and my portfolios.  Eventually their agents started asking the models who shot their new photos. Again, just as in Phoenix, I began shooting for the top agencies in the city, only this time it was for Eileen Ford and her legendary Ford Modeling Agency; Monique Pillard and the iconic Elite Modeling Agency; I began shooting for Wilhelmina, Prestige, and NEXT agencies.

After a couple of years I left the catalogue house and began freelancing as an assistant with some of NYC's, and the World's, top fashion photographers, including: Jaques Malignon, Uli Rose, Norman Parkinson, Bert Stern, Phillip Dixon, Neil Kirk, Lothar Schmidt, Patrick Demarchelier, and Ross Whitiker. 


I continued doing this, working day and night for the top magazines traveling the USA, the World and every Caribbean Island in the Pacific Ocean.


Eventually I got the chance to run one of the premiere fashion studio rentals in all of Manhattan. I began freelancing as a photographer, and ended up working at SPIN Magazine as both: the Photo Editor and a photographer. 

I lived and worked briefly in Paris and then moved to Los Angeles where I started shooting live music. 


I received my GED and returned to school, first attending Santa Barbara City College, and then UCLA where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with two degrees (History & African American Studies). I then attended Claremont Graduate University on a Haines Fellowship. 


Today I live in a tiny 1930s guest cottage in Tucson, AZ (Borderland).  


I've spent the past two and a half years documenting the political landscape in America with Bryan Sanders of, "American Babylon." Together, we're documenting "Border Life" along the 1,954 mile border that separates Mexico and the US.


I've also begun a series of photos I call, "Forgotten Men" that I photograph while ridding around the continental US in Greyhound and Flix busses.


Forty-five years after starting out, I now just want to chronicle the "Now".  I don't want to wait for an art director, or magazine editor to "commission" some job created out of a corporate think tank or focus group to sell products and garner clicks.  


The difference between me today, and the "me" forty-years ago is I now know what I'm good at and what I want to do: I am a photographer and I want to explore my craft.  

I hope you enjoy some of my images, and hopefully we can collaborate together and make something memorable. 

jimi Giannatti 










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