Lesley Ann Ercolano is a street photographer from Edinburgh, Scotland. Her simplistic yet very impressive and captivating work is appreciated by renowned photo-critics and has been featured in many web and print magazines. Her timely captures at fields and streets shots have mystery, intriguing composition, brilliant light and shadows. Here’s an interview with this very talented photographer with her selection of recent images:
I live and work in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have been digitizing Scottish archives for quite some time now, it can be an interesting job but like any job it has its ups and downs. It is not what I had planned for the future and it is not what I want to do forever but I work with very nice people, some have become good friends so that makes all the difference to the working day. In my spare time photography and playing ukulele are the two things I like doing the most.
Edinburgh is a wonderful city but what I like the most is the surrounding countryside. I often take car trips at the weekend. I drive and drive for hours with no clear destination and I find some wonderful unexpected places, stopping on the way for some shots and small walks. This is mainly a solo thing; I enjoy it most when I am on my own. It gives me time to think and with some good music at full volume it’s a great way for me to enjoy the scenery.
I studied photography here in Edinburgh and after graduating in 2007 I became slowly aware that throughout the years I began taking less and less photos, to the point of stopping completely. I am not sure what brought this, possibly being caught up in a relationship that wasn’t quite working out but also I think I was a little confused after university and wasn’t quite sure what direction to take. In 2010 I started again. I would say it is then that I started fully immersing myself in photography more than I ever did. The Flickr Street Photography Now project was what got me clinking once more.
Now 2015, I have slowed down again this is not necessarily a bad thing for me. I know what I what to shoot and only go out with my camera when I really feel like it. Up to now, I do not think I have taken photography seriously enough. Unfortunately, I regret this a lot and although it is never too late for anything I think this is a big mistake. Obviously this all depends what being serious means. I have not any major/world changing projects on the go, I am not planning the next best book of the year nor an exhibition. If this means being serious, I am failing miserably. But when I have my camera in my hand I am serious enough to be determined to portray the world my way. I enjoy what I do and there is nothing that matters most to me.
I often consider photography like a therapy. There are times that I feel like shooting when I have many thoughts running through my head or when I am feeling nostalgic. Also, it keeps me company when I do not feel like being around people. More and more I feel the need to be out of the city. Perhaps this is because I grew up in the countryside and missing home, going out of the city comforts me and makes me feel where I belong. I am not a huge fan of city confusion. Photography is a companion to this need. Most of my recent photographs have been taken outside the concrete walls. Working in the city centre during the week at the weekend I feel the need for “fresh air”, some personal space. The Scottish countryside always offers me some sighs of beauty. I take pictures because I want to take a look at things for longer also because being a little bit of dreamer I want to create something from reality that will match my dreamful nature and photography does just that.
I do not have a specific area; I try and shoot a little bit of everything. Although I do particularly adore photographing animals and landscapes. I do not put myself restrictions when I can. Street photography was the genre that fazed me back into shooting after my very long break. I loved it. I owe street photography a lot, it helped me not only love photography again but also to observe, wait for the right moment and capture things I would have in the past completely ignored. I have now moved away from street, not completely, perhaps one of the reasons is because I do not like being in the city with my camera anymore. I have to admit that I have grown bored of street little bit, it has too many limitations.
I use a Canon 5d Mark II with a 24mm lens and I use it for everything I do. There is no particular reason for this choice, this is what I have and I have to make the most of it. I use regularly flash and I love using it. My workflow and editing are little bit disorganized, but when it comes to it editing is something I like doing. With manipulation I believe that everyone is completely free to do what they like with their work as long as they are sincere and open about it.
These elements attract me. The sun and the sky especially, I cannot give a particular reason for this but repeatedly I find turning my attention to them. Some of my methods are more like photography toddling, if where I am turns out to be of little interest and nothing much is happening I find myself focusing on something nearby and experimenting with different points of view or play around with my flash. Sometimes the outcomes can be quite interesting and surprising. The sun is usually part of this photography toddling.
I would say both. But luck can be wasted if you do not constantly look for it and if you are not prepared.
Many are the projects that I have started and soon abandoned, many are the ones I think of and never begin at all. I lack time and maybe this is the wrong attitude to have, because if you are dedicated you can achieve anything you want. But my time seems to pass in front of me so quickly and work takes up most of it. I would love to have 100% of my time dedicated to what I want to do (don’t we all) but the little time off work is not enough to do everything and that includes realizing a project. For some time I have wanted to realize a photo essay on Sardinia and its people, a mix of portraiture and environmental landscapes. My short visits there are not enough at the moment, so again it remains just a thought.
A project which is ongoing is following the The Forth Replacement Crossing, the Queensferry crossing will upgrade the road crossing between Edinburgh and Fife after the existing bridge’s deterioration. The Forth Road Bridge will be completed in 2016 and during this time I will follow its step by step construction. The images are taken in the same spot once or twice a month. I hope to have a solid body of work at the end of it.
This (see above) is not a favourite but I guess it is more an example to illustrate the previous question about some of my shooting methods. This day I had been at Cramond, my favourite beach just outside Edinburgh. I had been walking around for some time but shooting was turning out to be very unsuccessful. I got bored of walking around aimlessly and sat down in a grassy area. I was picking at the grass, smoking a cigarette and making wishes by blowing the dandelion seeds off of their stocks and taking pictures of the flying seeds. I loved how the delicate fluffiness took shape against the strong sunlight. My boredom led me to take pictures of something I would have not considered doing if I had not sat down, there is always something in everything and although this photo may be a little silly I think it portrays well the sort of thing that I do when nothing else around me interests me.
Originality is something you come by hardly these days. I am very much part of this wave of stamps that stick with many types of photography. What you say and how you say it can bring some interesting results and photography has so many doorways that can lead to an original body of work. It is not just how you shoot but editing and how you present it can lead to some original results. Many photographers get stuck and stop thinking outside the box and for sure social media has a big part to play in this, it is easy, that is why it’s attractive to so many. Times change, the Internet and social media is part of our times. Photographers can do what they like with their work and if sharing endlessly is what they think is the best destination for their finished product that is their choice and I will always respect their decisions. As long as they leave room for alternative means of showcasing otherwise we will end up in an image world where nothing is special anymore. I must say though that if it wasn’t for social media I would have never came across some wonderful photographers, some whom I now consider friends, so it is not all bad.
Oh, easy. The ones I have not achieved yet!
Tell us about your favorite photographers and things that keep you inspired and motivated?
To be very frank, lately I have not shown any interest in the photography around me. I have not been looking at books, websites, nor keeping up with the photography world. So I will not begin with any lists or mentions, mainly due to lack of interest on my part. I think the only thing that inspires me at the moment are the members of my collective PUBLiGRAPHY. I love working with these guys and it is them that make me feel part of something special and creative. We have a few plans for the future and I am very much looking forward to the journey and the results.
I think it would be to take your time with things, to find your own voice and don’t feel pressured to follow directions on how your work should be done but do discuss and critique your work with whom you trust. Understand what you are good at and persevere with what you’re not good at. Enjoy it and make the most of what you have in your homeland.
All photos © Lesley Ann Ercolano : Flickr