By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Hitting the freebie bins downtown and mailboxes in select neighborhooods starting today is the premier issue of a quarterly magazine dubbed, simply, d.
But make no mistake, says first-time publisher Danny Sanchez, the photographer whose images nearly fill the magazine: d. is not about Danny Sanchez, at least not in the way that O. is about you-know-who.
Nor, despite its chic look, is it yet another plantation-lifestyle publication for Monmouth County’s super-rich like M.A.R. Magazine (for “Mid-Atlantic Riviera,” don’t you know) and The Book, published by the Two River Times.
What it is, though, is somewhat nebulous, much like Sanchez himself. “Its about all of us, really,” he says. “And life.
OK. And the title? It comes from the name of a short-lived softball team sponsored by Danny Sanchez Photographer, says Danny Sanchez, photographer.
If you’re trying to figure out how that explains that ‘d’ is not short for ‘Danny,’ forget it. You’ll get little help from Sanchez. He’s not easy to pin down, tending toward enigmatic answers and deadpan jokes; he’s clearly disdainful of pretension and convention. I like to be as subtle as possible, he says.
But in a conversation with redbankgreen earlier this week between client appointments at his Bridge Avenue studio, Sanchez says rather frankly that his aim with d. is to serve up strong images and entertaining content in the form of profiles, essays, humor pieces and even advertising.
Theres not much difference between taking pictures and writing about people, he says, in that theyre both about forming a connection. You make it a collaboration between the person taking and the person whose picture is being taken. Once the technical things are taken care of, its how an action and a reaction together create an image. It could work either way, with the photographer acting or reacting to the other person. Its that simple.
Creativity is like that you dont know what youre doing until something looks good then you dont touch it. It will take on a life of its own, he says.
As for the writing, he prefers stuff with strong visual impact. Not flashy, he adds, not larded with $10 words, just stories that will make you laugh or make you think.
The individuals profiled in d. are not necessarily there because of traditional ‘accomplishments,’ he says, but rather because something about them strikes a chord.
Everybodys deep in some way,” he says. “Everybodys significant. Sometimes we overrate people, I think. We dont always have to look up to people just because they have money and success.
They happen to be local, but the stories could be from anywhere. In the middle of Kansas, you might be able to relate to it.
A Red Bank native who had had enough of school by the eighth grade, Sanchez got his start at Us magazine and worked at the Star tabloid until six years ago.
After his first few years as a photographer, he says he realized something important.
I decided not to plan anymore, just make sure Im at the right place at the right time and have my camera and film and it will work out, he remembers. Stop trying to figure it out. Just be there and stop thinking about the mental part.
The same energy will apply here, he says of the magazine.
Since the mid-eighties, Sanchez has had his own studio in Red Bank, where he does brisk trade in black-and-white portraiture. His favorite subject, he says, has always been people. You learn a lot more about life from people than you do photographing objects, he explains, adding, I like who I am today and I wouldnt be that person without all the people Ive met.
Going from behind the camera to the top of the masthead will force the soft-spoken Sanchez to surrender a bit of his cherished privacy, he writes in d.s cover story. A Covers Story details how he wrote his first feature story (about a pilot), decided on the cover, found his first advertiser and enlisted writers.
Publishing turned out to be more difficult than hed anticipated: I just thought it would be something easy to do, and of course its not easy. He consulted friends, such as Claudia Ansorge, publisher of Red Bank Red Hot, and playwright Billy Van Zandt, brother of Steve Van Zandt and husband of actress Adrienne Barbeau.
Billy told me he had a story about his childhood, about mosquitoes. Id have published anything he wrote, even if it was about his big toe,” Sanchez says. “But I laughed my ass off when I read it. The Mosquito Man is a true story evoking the 1960s, when kids played in DDT vapors from mosquito trucks while parents watched. Says Sanchez, Those were innocent times.
That story, a big spark that kept things rolling, he says.
He eventually amassed a crew of 15 contributors. [Full disclosure: redbankgreen publisher John T. Ward is among the writers.]
Sanchez’s photo work fills the magazine or almost does. For the first time, he’s working with other photographers, including Holmdel’s Mike Marmora. I didnt want to be the only photographer in the magazine, he says, That would be crazy. So about 20 percent of d.s first issue is others work. I want there to be an open door here.
Though he plans to publish a new issue of d. every three months, his game plan is to not have a game plan, but to let the publication take shape naturally over time.
Ill accept whatever happens,” he says. “This first issue is like a little newborn with a wobbly head. Well see how it grows and forms.