“My work shows them as larger than life, but also as part of life,“…it three dimensionalized a lot of these people. And the artists themselves have always let me be up close and personal. There never been dichotomy between the photographer and the artist. It’s a circle,” explains Paniccioli. That more or less sums up Paniccioli's approach to taking pictures.” (New York Times,2013)
Ernie Paniccioli is the Author of “Hip Hop at the End of the World” and “Who Shot Ya?” He first made his foray into the culture in 1973 when he began capturing the ever present graffiti art dominating New York City. Armed with a 35-millimeter camera, Paniccioli has recorded the entire evolution of Hip Hop. Paniccioli, himself Native American, is known for his special eye for capturing people and communities ignored or misunderstood by mainstream America. Starting with snapping pics (a priceless history) of graffiti art in 1973 in NYC, he evolved to become the pictorial archeologist of Hip Hop much like James Van Der Zee did for 1920’s Harlem and Edward S. Curtis’ monumental prints did for the Native peoples of North America.
Regarded by the Hip Hop community as being their premier American photographer is the best-selling author of "Who Shot Ya" and "Hip Hop at the End of the World", a Hip Hop Hall of Fame inductee, recipient of the Zulu Nation Human Soul Award, creator of “The Other Side of Hip Hop” named best documentary in 2007 and whose works are featured in the Cornell University famed Hip Hop Collection.
A true renaissance man, Paniccioli is also a painter, public speaker, and historian. No one has mastered the art of photography better than Paniccioli. His work has decorated such illustrious publications as Rolling Stone, Vibe, The New York Times, Newsweek, Life, Spin and Ebony, to name a few. He has also shot for MTV and VH1 and has photos published in books, on album covers and posters throughout the globe. Paniccioli's work has also been displayed in various exhibits such as, The New York City Urban Experience Museum where 110 pieces from his Hip Hop Gallery were displayed making it the largest one man photography show in New York City history. Some of the most famous caught by his lens include John F. Kennedy, Jr. , Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Carter, Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Notorious Big , Michael Jordan, Britney Spears, Aaliyah, Tupac, Jay Z, Run DMZ, and The Dalai Lama, the list is endless. When asked which of his photographs is his favorite, Ernie responds… "My favorite photograph is my next one."
Alongside his phenomenal career in photography, Paniccioli has found a way to inspire others. Portraying hip hop as a communication tool, he has lectured on the art and nature of hip hop at numerous universities and other forums throughout the nation. He has also been a dynamic guest speaker on hundreds of radio stations. Although some might say that Hip Hop today has fallen off its base, according to Ernie, "We need not look further than the world that surrounds us…. Hip Hop is a mirror of Society. The problem is not Hip Hop moving in the wrong direction, it's us. We are the ones moving off track".
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