You stretch you arm out of the window and feel a misty wind gently blowing while the mellow sun rays try to add some warmth to your cozy cabin. That’s what I feel looking at Vancouver, Canada based photographer Andy Grellmann’s film photographs. His photography cultivates within you a desire to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and contemplate on tidbit everyday moments carefully photographed to permeate the psyche of a conscious viewer.
Andy is a self-taught photographer. A very meticulous and slow shooter, he’s exclusively into film photography, which allows him to be aware of his entire creative approaches. Most of the images featured in this post belong to his recent project ‘Détaché’ (separation in French) – a collection of seemingly random images that speak of a detachment inhabited in the photographer. Here’s my short interview with Andy Grellmann:
Photography was something I landed on while attending University. I tried commercial photography for a couple years but it wasn’t for me. I continue it now purely out of pleasure. Most of my photographs are made in the lower mainland of British Columbia and surrounding islands. I live in East Vancouver.
What does photography mean to you?
I think of photography as a tool for reaffirmation.
‘Détaché’ was formed out of a need to make sense of a pile of photographs that were made passively over a few years. They are objects of curiosity and interest, and outside of a sense of visual consistency there is no intention of a meaning to its story. There was a point when I felt the project reached a logical conclusion, but I find myself cycling between abandonment and revival, occasionally adding or removing photographs to adjust the context. I like to see it as practice. The project title is borrowed from the violin technique of détaché: the independent, separated, violin strokes of even pressure and value, composing a coherent harmony when put together.
How much of your work is carefully planned vs. instantaneous?
I would say most of my subjects are instantaneously found and carefully photographed.
At the moment I cycle between a Hasselblad 500c/m, an RZ67, and a Mamiya 7. I’ll occasionally shoot with my 4×5, but it’s a rail system so I don’t like lugging it around. I really enjoy composing through a waist level finder, the negatives from Mamiya 7 are hard to beat, and the Hasselblad covers most of my needs in a pinch. I generally stick to Portra 400 and Tri-x 400 films because I know what I’ll get.
There are a lot of pictures out there.
Do you have any plans of (self)publishing a photo-book, like many photographers are doing nowadays?
When I get to a point where I want my work to have the shelf-life of a proper book, I’d certainly consider publishing on a large scale. At the moment everything still feels like preparation.
I’m taking a break from shooting, and putting more time into studying editing and sequencing. Currently most of my creative energy is going into woodworking and building furniture. I’ll resume an ongoing project in the spring, including more portrait work (with visible faces).
Interviews with writers are one of my favourite things. I’ve spent the last few months listening to the CBC podcast “Writers in Company” by Eleanor Wachtel, which would make great supplemental listening to anyone who enjoys reading the Paris Review interviews. I’m slowly making my way through Akira Kurosawa’s filmography (I would recommend Seven Samurai to anyone). Doug DuBois’ “My Last Day at Seventeen” was the last great photo-book I sat down with, and I’d really to get my hands on a book by Raymond Meeks some day.
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Trust your curiosity, take your time, allow for improvisation, and any comparison made should only be to your former self.