Photography is part of Luc Kordas’s life, it is part of who he is. An enthusiastic traveller, he spent three months roaming southern Italy and then further north. Along the way, he photographed street scenes, fishermen, anglers, lovers and the constantly restless sea, with his Leica M (Typ 240). Intuitive, authentic and free of any type of cliché.
In the work shown, you documented daily life in Italy…
My Italian trip began in the summer of 2021. I started my journey in Palermo, Sicily, in late August. After a short road trip around the island, I stopped in the beautiful baroque town of Scicli, where I spent an entire month. In October I moved to rainy Syracuse, still in Sicily. From there I travelled up north to my favourite Italian city, Naples, then via Rome and Florence to a small quiet town in the mountains of Tuscany, where I spent my November. In those three months I went from extremely hot days on Sicilian beaches to floods in the old town of Syracuse, to snowy days in a Dominican monastery hidden in the middle of a National Park in Tuscany. Quite the range.
Isn’t it hard to avoid clichés, especially in Italy?
Not for me. I have an aversion to postcard clichés. If I see one, I might enjoy and appreciate it, but I won’t take a picture unless I have a creative angle in mind; something that would make it mine.
How did you come up with the idea for this project?
I wouldn’t call it a project, but rather another chapter in my life. Photography is a part of my everyday life, especially when I’m travelling – and I travel often. I flew to Sicily because I had always wanted to experience the south of Italy, and particularly that beautiful island. I had no plan nor a time limit; I just photographed whatever attracted me as I moved through the country. What is special about this body of work is that it was shot with a Leica that I bought at the time. I had grown tired of and felt too comfortable with my old cameras. I thought a new one, a rangefinder, would bring back creativity and joy to the process; get my creative juices going again. I was right about that. When, after some serious trials and tribulations with the Italian postal system, I finally got the Leica at the beginning of October last year, I immediately went out and started shooting in the streets of Syracuse. My favourite photography genres are street and travel, so photographing Italian towns and cities was simply a part of my daily routine; but now, having a new camera, I was forced to slow down, learn and adjust. This new Leica changed my style a bit and also the way I photograph.
What kind of equipment did you use?
I have a Leica M (Typ 240) with 35mm and 50mm lenses. The Leica M (Typ 240) is an older model; it’s been around for almost a decade. Switching to it from a DSLR was going backwards in terms of technology, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It made me slow down and think more about the images; and it also changed my style a bit. I couldn’t focus as fast as normal, and I couldn’t photograph in extremely low light situations, but I see that as a part of the experience. What I love about that Leica is the analogue feel it gives me. For me it was really important to photograph through an optical viewfinder – and a rangefinder at that. The process is so much more pleasurable, I feel directly connected to the scene. I can’t photograph through electronic viewfinders, it just doesn’t feel right.
How did the people react when you photographed them?
I think some were a bit surprised. I’d say a bit more than in New York, where people are used to street photographers. I think photographing streets anywhere else in the world is a bit harder in that respect. But in big metropolises like Rome, Florence or Naples, I was just another tourist with a camera.
Your portfolio shows your black and white as well as your colour photography. How do you decide when to choose the one or the other?
I shoot in colour. The process of deciding to convert some of the work to black and white, comes down to me looking at a picture and thinking it would look good in black and white. It’s that simple. It has to do mostly with the light and composition; certain images are stronger in black and white, and there are images that will never work in monochrome. But at this point, when I look at a picture, I know immediately if it’ll work in black and white or not. As far as the style and approach in this body of work, I actually don’t think I came very close to people… or not close enough. If you look at my New York work you’ll see I came much closer. In Italy I didn’t feel as comfortable photographing people as I am in my backyard, New York; and I think it shows. I’d say in most shots I’m further away than normal. That extra distance was also caused by me learning how to work with a manual-focus-only Leica. Very often I wasn’t quick enough to focus and photograph up close; I needed more time and space.
What was the turning point in your life, that made you decide to become a photographer?
Becoming a professional photographer wasn’t easy, it took time, persistence and perseverance. The turning point was when I decided to move to New York. Having been here twice before, I had a gut feeling this would be the place to make the leap; because that’s where I’d done my best work.
How would you describe your photographic approach?
In short, I try to shoot what it feels like I should shoot.
Please complete the following sentence: Photography is…
…a part of who I am.
Luc Kordas is a photographer living and creating mostly between New York and Europe, whose work celebrates timeless, everyday moments. Versatile in both colour and black and white, he often chooses the latter for his documentary work, seeing monochrome as a more powerful tool of expression. An avid traveller who is constantly on the road, he likes to merge his favourite genres of photography, moving freely between documentary, portraiture, travel and street photography. Find out more about his photography on his website and Instagram page.