truth here at #itchysilk it was a sense of achievement to finally get some time with the enigmatic US based photographer Luc Kordas.
We were initially taken by Kordas’ images of Hasidic Jews in New York. The images seemed to be a window into their world while significantly maintaining the distance this slightly closed sect of Judaism seems to maintain with staunch resolve.
Further research revealed that this award winning photographer was a man in constant creative agitation. Indeed, his profound works like The New York Chronicles, Nocturnes and Gleason’s Gym are addictive viewing as emotive black and white images are indelibly burned onto the mind.
Who is Luc Kordas?
I would say I am a traveller first-a lone wolf, then I’m a photographer who enjoys shooting portraits and the streets while of course enjoying travel photography. It’s good to look back on my work from the beginning and see the style hasn’t changed, the vision was clear from the start-it was a vision of what I wanted to do in life and how I wanted to do it. If there’s one common denominator for me as a person, artist and photographer, it’s freedom of; actions, thoughts and speech.
(NEW YORK CHRONICLES)
Vanishing, lifts and the case of the joint in the lift.
A camera fell into my hands by accident and I have a strange story about that. The person who lent me his SLR disappeared shortly after. This was before social media, so he just somehow vanished into thin air and I was left with his camera. The first signature image I remember very well-it was 2008, I was sitting in my room in Barcelona late at night, editing a bunch of self-portraits I’d shot a year earlier in Madrid. The first edit didn’t really sit well with me so I revisited them a year later. By the end of the night I came up with an image known today as Luc’s Lifts – it was a self-portrait with a joint that won me my first big award. It looks like it was shot in a studio but I was in the elevator of my building smoking hash. It was here that I came up with a new process of editing portraits. I remember looking at the final image being really wowed. It was like okay, this is it. I remember thinking before going to sleep that if the frame still looked good in the morning I was definitely onto something. I woke up and the first thing I did was look at that portrait it was still popping-then I knew that’s where I wanted to go. I was looking at that image thinking , that’s me, that’s Luc Kordas.
Surfers, fairies and those moments ‘in between’
I am really interested in the in-between moments. When I take portraits it’s often the unguarded moments caught candidly that show the most strength the same actually goes with documentary work. When I photograph Fashion Week I don’t go with the crowd to photograph the catwalk. I’m backstage, I’m in the hallways, at makeup stations, I’m with the models when they come off stage. When I photograph boxers I’m in the changing room, bathroom, I watch them spar.
The very first project that I loved was a simple short story I called Surfers’ Day. There are more than a couple of series clearly saying Luc Kordas and this is definitely one of them. I still love it. Curiously enough it is the only series I shot with a 300mm lens.
Another favorite project of mine is Fairy Tales, a series of fine art portraits set in amazing landscapes. I would love to shoot the series over several years and I have been thinking of returning to the project lately. It all came about organically. It’s mostly personal, they are images made in a very relaxed way that is different from the flow of a standard portrait session. They are ‘by-the-way’ images which, for the most part, were shot while travelling, having a good time, enjoying life and feeling present.
The New York Chronicles and a man called Ruben Brulat
The biggest and most exciting project by far is New York Chronicles. It’s getting old-the first images date back to 2008. It’s not really a project-I’m just doing street. I love street because it’s the most demanding genre I do. It requires courage, perseverance and persistence. It literally challenges me every time and you have to put in hours and kilometres but it’s demanding so I don’t do it too often these days, maybe once a week. To be honest, I wouldn’t say I like doing it because it has nothing to do with that blissful, balanced and calm feeling I get as a nature photographer but I’m definitely addicted to it. It’s rewarding and very different from travel or portraits in its intensity and many people seem to think it is my best work but I always want to move things forward. Recently, I met photographer and he showed me his idol, a French large format photographer called Ruben Brulat. He told me about Brulat’s process and I saw some of his self-portraits and I pictured myself doing that. Large format cameras, taking it really slow, really meditating on those landscapes-I loved the idea. That’s how I love my travel photography, shooting solo and taking all the time I need, listening to the wind, watching the clouds. With a large format camera it would be a different experience altogether-it made me think.
The agitated soul and beyond.
I’m on the move a lot, the road energizes me and I am very much a nature person even though I was raised and have always lived in cities but when I go somewhere it’s not the cities that I want to see. This past year has been nothing short of amazing in terms of travels. Started with Bieszczady mountains in winter, then first visit to Canada and another to California in summer, jaw-dropping Iceland in December and all of that rounded off with a quick trip to Tatra mountains in Poland in January. Such beautiful and dangerous mountains those! No plans for this year so far, I’ll play it by ear.