Roman Loranc: Most people are living in such a busy world. They just can’t jump [out] for [a few] seconds and take photos and then come back to the busy world. You have to go to places where there is peace and solitude, relax and just connect with nature and yourself before you can approach photography. [With students] usually we talk about the idea of photography, discuss and we go for walks. I am surrounded here by nature, including Mount Shasta, which is beautiful and [the surroundings provide] a form of meditation. I give criticism and provide ideas and we go and take real photographs.
I see workshops with 50 people standing on the beach in the middle of the day, pretending to photograph. I go 4-5am and we try to find the right lighting and subjects and its real [as we are motivated by] something that really inspires me. A few times we have driven close to 200 miles to find the right light and I was surprised we did this. Sometimes it’s a good idea to stay in one place, but when it’s a two or three day workshop, I have to show them what I like to photograph…. because really, to be honest, I photograph only 15-20 times per year. Most of the time I do not see [what inspires me] when it comes to the landscape, but with architectural photography you can shoot almost all the time. So it depends on the subject. If someone is interested in landscape, I try to give them a real experience, not just a pretend one. Where possible, I try to encourage them [to book] for the fall or winter. I rarely do [one on one tuition] – I don’t have the time – but sometimes if someone has potential and just needs a little push in the right direction, I will do it.
TPF: You mentioned earlier that you were scouting for locations this last week. Can you talk me through what your photographic process is in terms of logistics and timing? How do you bundle this together as an activity?
Roman Loranc: I’m usually triggered by reading a book, or [things I hear on] public radio…. perhaps someone mentions a city or something…. It’s always accidental… or I see an image of a city [that inspires me], such as happened when I saw a shot of a street in Lisbon and went there the following year. [I recently visited Portland], which is an interesting, magical city. [In such places], I wake up early, perhaps 5-6 AM and just walk the city, while it sleeps (or doesn’t sleep) and look for what might draw me back. I especially like to walk where the water and city meet – that always interests me.
The sun is too strong in California during the summer and does not appeal to me, [so instead] I go to fun places, such as historical sites…. beautiful bookstores in Portland, or (for example) Voodoo doughnuts, which I never eat, but [I was drawn to] the large number of people waiting in the line and [asked myself] ‘what is that phenomenon?’ I often go to see friends, which means I can cut down costs. When I work, I wake at 4-5 AM, work, load films, shoot, come back and unload, work again until midnight and then finally turn in for the night. When the weather forecast looks interesting, I will go to particular locations, interested in the rain or other conditions.
Europe is a little bit different, because I have a studio on the border of Lithuania and Poland, so I can work there. I develop my negatives at the studio using it as a base, which is very useful, because its very different to travel in Europe with film. They all want to X-Ray the film and while my friends say it does not affect the film, I see the affect of X-Ray exposure… you cannot get the same white in the negative. Therefore, when I work in Europe I always go to my home studio, develop everything and then fly to the US with developed negatives…. [if travelling elsewhere] sometimes I use a little portable darkroom so [security] can open the film and check it [without X-Ray]. It’s very difficult to travel with 60-70 pound of film – its kind of ridiculous.
TPF: I was surprised to see that you’re now shooting in China – what’s your connection there?
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