Photographer Spotlight Andrew Lerman
Meet Andy Lerman
The talented Mr. Andrew Lerman has lived in Westchester County, NY for the past 39 years with his wife, Judi. They have two adult sons, one daughter-in-law and one grandchild. When not photographing, you can find Andy hiking locally, trying to play golf and rolling on the ground with his grandson. We’ve learned a great deal from Andy during our CI Spotlight interview and recent Isle of Skye photography tour. We are proud to showcase him as one of our spotlighted photographers… Enjoy!
Here is the million dollar question…why photography? What’s launched your passion?
This is easy. Lewis Hine, the great American sociologist and photographer once said, “If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” I have always been fascinated by our natural world, be it landscapes, wildlife and everything in between. Creating a photograph is the end product, but it is very much the adventure and the challenges that I am equally passionate about.
When viewing your website, I noticed stunning images of beautiful landscapes. What was the inspiration behind those bodies of work?
In my travels, I have been very fortunate to have met many outstanding, talented and creative photographers. Some are “famous” and some less so. All have had their own remarkable way of expressing how they see our world. Rather than duplicate what someone has done, I have worked to understand the “why” behind what they do. Incorporating those “whys” has helped me develop into a better photographer and storyteller. Being able to create images that are intimate, dynamic and emotional comes from those gifted individuals past, present and future.
What do you enjoy photographing outside of your work related projects?
Since I am a freelancer, I consider everything a work related project. Ha, joking, kind of. Those who know me understand that I am not a people shooter. But, I make an exception for my grandson. I love photographing him.
Why did you choose to use a Cambo technical camera with your Phase One digital back?
I migrated to using a technical camera in late 2014. Prior to that, I was shooting 35mm and 6×7 film. I was creating images for sale, many of which were large format prints. I felt limited, from a print size point of view, of what I could comfortably create using my 35mm equipment. I loved using my Mamiya RZ67 film camera but it was beastly heavy, the film processing was a pain, and wide angle and tilt-shift lenses were not available. The RZ67 fit perfectly into my style and overall deliberate approach to photography, but hauling it up mountainsides was a bit burdensome. Cambo’s technical camera ticked off all of the boxes of what I was looking for. Lightweight, tilt/shift and wide angle lenses, and when combined with a high megapixel digital back, the opportunity to create large prints with less effort in the field. Precision movements, including rise and fall, along with the highest quality of construction sealed the deal for me.
When shooting, how do you approach a scene and decide to shoot from a certain angle?
Those who have been with me know that I take a very slow and deliberate approach to photographing a scene. I have long said it is not about how many images of a place or animal or thing that I take. Rather, it is about the one image that I see that I want to take. I do a lot of scouting prior to shooting a location. When I first visit a location, I generally leave my equipment in my vehicle. I will become familiar with the terrain, notice the positioning of the sun, tides, etc., and begin to walk in large and small circles exploring the area. I will then reverse back in the opposite direction to make sure that I have seen things that were behind me. I’ve also been known to do this while on my knees since that is generally the height at which I shoot most things. Several years ago, I had made small fiberglass cutouts based on image sizes, 3×4, 4×5 and various pano orientations. I use these cutouts to help visualize a photograph I may want to take. These days, I use an app on my phone to do the same thing, although I still carry the cutouts in case my phone’s battery dies.
Dimension and depth is a big part of how I shoot. A good friend and mentor of mine would always remind me that when you think you are low enough, get lower, and when you think you are close enough, get closer. After many whacks on my head and rear-end I finally got it. As I mentioned earlier, I am generally pretty low to the ground for most of the landscape pictures I make, which helps in creating a third dimension in the image. Most locations have a “main” subject. Using an Academy Award reference, my preference is to make that main subject a supporting actor rather than the lead actor. So, for example, instead of shooting a picture of just a waterfall, I will get into the middle of the boulders below the waterfall and use them as a strong foreground which then leads your eye to the waterfall. To me, the foreground subject becomes the important lead to the main subject.
Lighting plays a major role in telling the story of your image. What are your favorite lighting techniques to tell your story?
I don’t think you can overstate the importance of light, no matter what one photographs. Light creates the path into the heart of the image. It helps bring out the textures, colors, patterns, lines and shapes which form the basis of a pleasing composition and a photographic story. Most of what I shoot is on the cusp or fringes of light, very early or late in the day. I very rarely photograph in the middle of the day. I’ve been known to sit in one location for days, or more, waiting for the light to be just right. In order to help shape the light, especially dealing with landscapes, I almost always use a graduated filter of varying degrees of strength. This helps me to compress the range of light into what the camera sensor can handle and allows me, in one exposure, to take the viewer’s eye by the hand and lead them through the image. I want to get as much as I can in one exposure, as I prefer to keep to a minimum that which I do in post-processing. It’s a bit old school, but it works for me.
In which ways do you see your work evolving in the next 5 – 10 years from now?
Well, I’ll be older, so carrying 30-40 pounds, or more, of gear on my back might force me into thinking about how to lighten the load! Seriously, it gets back to something mentioned earlier. Learning never stops. The more people I meet, the more I gain from their experiences. In moving to a technical camera, I’ve gone a bit backwards in time. Less automation, a more deliberative process and a greater sense for taking the time to appreciate that which is front of you. My hope is that I continue to do just that.
If you could have given yourself any advice when you first launched your career in photography, what would it be?
Photograph subjects that you don’t like or that make you uncomfortable. The better you get at doing the stuff you don’t like, then the better you’ll be at the things, subjects, etc., that you do enjoy.
Why Capture Integration? What made you select us as a partner?
Taking a page from some current professional athletes, my success is based on a “we” concept, not an “I” concept. I am only as good as my support team. My family provides wonderful emotional support that gives me the confidence to explore. In 2014, I met Chris Snipes at Photo Plus Expo in New York and discussed with him my thoughts and my needs. I met with others at that time, too. Chris and I hit it off perfectly and he knew exactly what I was after. He was timely, responded to all my concerns and provided me an opportunity to test equipment without pressure. Since then, Chris and the rest of the CI team have been a never-ending source of professional support, from getting answers to technical questions and getting repairs performed, to making sure that I am fit with the right equipment. With such a great support mechanism, how can “we” not create beautiful, thoughtful, dynamic, emotional photographs?!