Friday, May 5, 2017

Community Profile: Dion "The Duke" Degennaro

Becoming the de facto eyes and mouthpiece for a largely known and highly reputable soccer club supporter's group doesn't come easy and without some learning curves.

Dion "The Duke" Degennaro learned this quickly when he joined the "Northern Guard," Detroit City FC's resident, and rowdy, supporters group, close to five years ago.  Detroit City FC was an over-night success as Detroit's Semi-Professional Soccer Team, drawing thousands of fans in its inaugural of existence, and has done nothing but grown exponentially since that time. 

 Many people fell in love with the club, and Degennaro was one of those individuals, but further, as someone who had dabbled in photography, videography and theatre, he wanted to share what he saw the club as and document its growth. 

Detroit City FC, and The Northern Guard, allowed Degennaro to fully delve into something he loved, and tell a story doing it.

"I have loved photography since my mid-teens, but never really had the reason to really start pursuing," he said. "Detroit City FC is announced as Detroit's newest soccer team and I immediately buy tickets and fall in love with the team. The following season I started to get involved with The Northern Guard."

In the four years since Degennaro has been a member of "The Guard," his photography skills had began to grow an immense amount. As with the most prominent members of the supporters group, Degennarro eventually earned his nickname, "The Duke," and took mantle as the groups "Director of Communications."

"It always bothered me that the story of the team and its supporters wasn't being shared and told to the soccer world the way that I felt it should be," Degennaro said. "I get my first camera, a Canon T3i and kit lens and start to watch loads and loads of videos on how to shoot.

"So the 2014 season comes, I start to shoot DCFC games from the stands with no idea what I am doing, shooting in full auto and hoping for the best."

Since that time, Degennaro hasn't only grown into the primary contributor of images for The Northern Guard and resident visual storyteller of Detroit City FC's move through the lower league history books. The photography passion that started because of a semi-professional soccer club has given Degennaro opportunities he had only dreamed of. 

"Improving my photography abilities has opened quite a few doors and allowed me to experience things I otherwise wouldn't have. Having a pretty prominent [soccer] league fly you out to a city and shoot sports photos is an awesome experience," he said. "I had the opportunity to shoot the United States Women's National team on their Victory Tour after they won the World Cup, which was also amazing."

Soccer photography isn't the only form of image-taking that Degennaro is enthusiastic about, though. Having tried "a little bit of everything" in his time behind the camera, he loves to travel and shoot landscapes and cityscapes.

But his absolute favorite form of photography has become candid portraits. Candid portraits are photos that are taken of individuals, of whom are the subjects, but this person doesn't know the photo is being taken, capturing them in a natural state. 

"DCFC games offer a great opportunity to capture these types of shots. There's a full spectrum of emotions on display at every game. The smokey atmosphere helps to set the mood, and allows me to capture some really unique candid shots," Degennaro said. "The best feeling is nailing a shot and showing it to the person, and they love the photo of themselves. It's a super rewarding feeling."

"The Duke" had an essential goal of telling the story of the beloved Detroit soccer club, a goal that he believes he has accomplished.

 "I feel like I have accomplished my initial plan of helping share my love of the team, the players, the supporters and everything else that falls under the DCDC 'experience' with my vision, the way I see it, and the way I would like DCDC to be seen by others," he said. "I don't do this for the money, in fact I doubt that I have yet to break even on what I've spent on equipment. 

"But it's a passion that I take very seriously and want to continue to learn and have these amazing experiences. 

**All photos taken by Dion Degennaro

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