Robert Presutti is a photojournalist who has traveled across the globe capturing images of people, history, fashion, and daily life. A resident of Riverdale, New York, Robert is proud to announce the opening of his Photography exhibition titled “An Beal Faces.” The exhibition includes more than one-hundred portraits of employees and customers of the presiding venue known as An Beal Bocht Café; a bar that has been a neighborhood hot-spot for years.

Robert discussed his photography inspirations and exhibitions via an exclusive interview on November 14, 2018.

Images, subjects, and cafes

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get into photography and what sorts of subjects do you primarily focus on?

Robert Presutti (RP): I got into photography when I was twenty-one. Up to that point, I had never taken a photo or owned a camera, it just happened when a friend showed me some photo magazines with his favorite photographs, in that precise instant I knew I wanted to be a photographer and came to the US to study at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I have done almost every kind of photography in the past but in recent years I am focused mainly on portraits

MM: How did you find out about the An Beal Bocht Cafe?

RP: I live a few blocks from the place!

MM: What prompted you to create a series of images centered on the staff and customers of the An Beal Bocht Cafe?

RP: I have been fascinated since the first time I came to the cafe with its characters, the variety of people of different ages and backgrounds. When the manager, Bronagh Harmon, approached me with the idea of doing a series of portraits of the costumers I didn’t think about it twice!

MM: How did you stage the images and direct the subjects?

RP: I set up a studio in the back room and as people came to the café, I invited them to sit for a portrait, many of them were not prepared and had no idea what I was doing there. I don’t like much to direct people I just simply tell them to be themselves, initially many are unsure what I expect from them but gradually there is a silent understanding and things just happen, it amazes me all the time.

MM: How did you convince the An Beal Bocht Cafe to stage the exhibit?

RP: As I said the manager asked me if I was interested in doing an exhibit with patrons of An Beal. I had had the idea for a long time so it happened very quickly.

Photos, exhibitions, and feedback

MM: What kind of feedback have you gotten from people who see your photos?

RP: The day of the opening was very emotional, took me by surprise, everyone reacted so strongly, some were in tears, it was beautiful.

MM: Which photos do you think are especially striking and why?

RP: That's a tough question, I think they work all together as a unity since everyone knows each other, it's like a puzzle to make one big portrait!

MM: What exhibitions are coming up next, what are your major goals for the future, and would you like to talk about anything additional?

RP: I have completed at this point a collection of images on different subject matters, from nudes to travel, to portraits and everything in between enough to have at least four or five strong shows, will see where they will end up. As for goals, my only goal is to always be the best photographer I can be and meet as many people and see as many places as possible.

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Every year, An Beal Bocht Café features live music, plays, book readings, and an array of cultural events.

An Beal is located at 445 W.238th St. Bronx, NY. Hours and events are listed on their official website.

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