Renaissance Man

Andro Loria

Whether he is shooting the streets and architecture of London or the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland, Andro Loria continues his quest for the fleeting moments that tell his stories… tales that artfully occupy each of his striking frames. He is a modern day explorer, in search of both the curious and the mundane. With his imaginings as his guide, Loria roams the cityscapes and landscapes of his travels searching for the perfect blend of geometry, form, and light. His portfolio is broad and it is deep. Why no specific genre? In Andro’s words, “science, exploration, photography… they’re are all the same to me”.

I am a self-taught photographer. My day job is an academic researcher/ lecturer based in London, UK. At work I shoot images of chromosomes and cells, and build images of large 3D molecular structures. Outside of work I shoot in both black and white and color with a slight preference for mono. I like moving between styles: street, architecture, landscape, and travel photography. My preferred system is Fuji-X mirrorless cameras and Fujinon lenses." Andro Loria

Kujaja: Describe your photographic style.
AL: At the moment I am trying different styles. If I do have one, it is not technical or compositional, but rather a combination of how I see and sense things. I tend to use longer lenses than others in landscape shots and I like black and white HDRs. I prefer a slightly longer glass for street shots too.

Kujaja: What were the difficulties you encountered when you began your photographic journey?
AL: Finding a camera system with which I had a bond. Using my first DSLRs I took many images but I was not happy with either the cameras or images. Once I found a camera system that gave me the image quality I was happy with, it was fun and a joy to shoot. That camera system was and is Fuji X. I started shooting more and I shot differently. For me that meant shooting slower, thinking more, using primes instead of zooms, using manual controls instead of automatics and having my camera with me every day. That changed the tide of quantity to quality.

Kujaja: What is the most challenging part about being a photographer?
AL: Not having a camera with you when you need it most. Otherwise, patience.

Kujaja: Is there a unifying theme in your photography?
AL: I guess my photographer friends would be better judges of that, but I think I either shoot people who fit into the surrounding environment or people who are disconnected or even try to disconnect from the environment. The former is less personality centered, the latter is trying to see a person who is blocking out reality.

Kujaja: Who are some of the photographers who have influenced your photography?
AL: Sebastião Salgado, Wolfgang Suschitzky, Ansel Adams, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand. From more modern photographers: Rui Palha, Steve McCurry and Kai Ziehl.

Kujaja: What are your photography ‘must haves’ (without this/these, I will not shoot)?
AL: One of my Fuji X cameras. That, and a mood for shooting.

Kujaja: Do you think gear really matters?
AL: Yes. The camera is a tool. The most important thing is to be comfortable with your camera. We all have different size hands, different eye strengths, etc. As long as your lens is optically good, the size of your camera’s sensor is less important. For street shots I prefer a smaller camera that is less visible and intimidating to other people.

Kujaja: How do you choose the places you shoot?
AL: I like to explore, whether it is in a city or outdoors. I roam around. I click with some locations and come back to them.

Kujaja: Is there any particular genre/style of photography you would like to learn about and try?
AL: I would love to start shooting portrait photography. The only photography that comes really close to the human personality. Also aerial photography when it comes to nature and landscapes.

Kujaja: What type of images do you view as overdone, or too common?
AL: Sunsets, mirror selfies with the camera attached to the person’s face, long exposures of waterfalls, lone tree shots and people aimlessly walking along a wall with or without a billboard.

Kujaja: Who inspires you other than photographers?
AL: Anyone whose art and work takes me to a new imaginary world. To name a few: Amedeo Modigliani, Andrei Tarkovsky, Kazimir Malevich and Vassily Kandinsky, Pink Floyd, Bach, Beethoven, Pergolesi and Gabriel Fauré.

Kujaja: When you are out shooting, how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
AL: I plan the location and a general idea of images I want to get when it comes to architectural and travel shots. But plans and rules are made to be broken and street, travel and nature shoots are all based on a fleeting moment.

Kujaja: Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
AL: Locations – I scout. In London, with or without a camera, I think about places I see as potential scenes for a shot. There are some places where there is always something happening or places that always have interesting characters. When I go to new places I do my research on photography websites to find the most interesting/promising locations. Weather – you never know what weather would be the best for that future killer shot, but a weather proof camera and lens is a good start.

Kujaja: How does black and white vs. color play into your work?
AL: I prefer black and white for street and architecture as it gives me the clearest vision of the scene with its geometry, light and composition. I often set my EVF for b/w. But as long as color does not affect the image I make, I would use it. When shooting nature I prefer color, though I would like to use more black and white in future.

Kujaja: What is your opinion regarding film vs. digital photography?
AL: I shot miles of film (in the lab) but do not miss it at all, though some images have a nice nostalgic feeling about them. Digital systems and sensors are so much better than film nowadays that I would not go back to film.

Kujaja: What is your opinion regarding darkroom vs. lightroom?
AL: Darkroom has its special magic. When a white sheet of paper becomes a time wormhole to your memories and visions… that is unbeatable. I am lucky to have some of those moments at work. Lightroom, on the other hand, is a great tool to get the most out of your images. Ideally I would combine them both.

Kujaja: RAW or jpg and why?
AL: RAW, mostly RAW. Fuji’s straight out the camera jpg files are amazing, but for black and white conversion and post processing I prefer to use the original file, that is RAW or RAF. But I use ISO bracket jpg files for merging to make black and white HDRs for architecture shots.

Kujaja: Many photographers feel that we're all inundated with images thanks to the web in general. Have you seen a change in the way people interact with your photos because of that?
AL: One pattern that I see is that many people tend to follow the curator’s/editor’s opinion and most likely pay little attention to your images unless they are highlighted.

Kujaja: Has social media played a role in your photography?
AL: I did a great deal of learning by going through other people’s photographs on sites such as 500px, Your Shot, and Kujaja. Social media also gives me hugely important feedback on my photographs, so I think it has had a very big role in the development of my photography.

Kujaja: What are your photography weaknesses?
AL: I think my mind’s eye is still much faster than my camera skills. Hopefully that will even out with time.

Kujaja: What do you consider your greatest photographic accomplishment?
AL: I have a few personal favorites from different styles, but the images that still stay in my mind are those I could not take at the time. I do not think I have accomplished much yet. I keep learning and feel there is much to develop yet - new styles, new lenses, new places. I have started generating my own ideas and projects in photography and that feels nice.

Kujaja: What are some tips/advice you would give to yourself if you started street photography all over again?
AL: Use a camera that saves you time when shooting, one that is small and comfortable enough to carry around with you all the time. Use prime lenses so you do not waste time zooming in and out. When you do not have camera, shoot with your eyes. That keeps your mind making pictures. Do not hesitate to shoot strangers. A smile will work fine when you are spotted, and don’t run away. Walk slowly so your subject will not sense you stopping to make a shot and then accelerate away. Buy photography books and look at other photographers work. Talk to other photographers. Small advice will save you a lot of time.

Kujaja: And finally, what is one question no one has ever asked you that you wish they had asked you?
AL: Why do you take photographs?

Kujaja: Thank you for this interview Andro.

Andro Loria at Kujaja (click)