"We're in a time of creating our own narratives; we can no longer depend on traditional means of employment or education. Craft and apprenticeship are the ways of the future."
Andrea Gentl and her husband, Martin Hyers, form New York based photography team Gentl & Hyers. They met while studying photography at the Parsons School of Design, and they've been working together commercially for over twenty years, photographing still life, food, beauty, fashion and travel for a wide array of editorial and advertising clients. Andrea writes, styles and shoots for her blog, Hungry Ghost Food & Travel, and the duo recently launched This Is The Wanderlust, a series of travel photography expeditions and culinary adventures.
I work as a photographer with my husband Martin Hyers. Our work changed creatively after the crash of 2008. New York was a bit of a wasteland and many creatives I had known left the industry all together. We took the slow period as chance to reevaluate the kind of work we were doing. Although we had some great jobs, I'd come to feel like more of a technician than a creative photographer. The transition to digital didn't help much. I felt entirely untethered. A medium that had once been somewhat private suddenly became completely public. We used to looked through the view finder to compose and photograph, and suddenly there were 10 to 15 people standing around a monitor, commenting on every frame and every detail. Privacy and serendipity gave way to referendum. We realized we needed to grasp the reins or become obsolete. I made an effort to learn everything I could about the digital side of photography. I didn't want to be someone who had no idea how to manage my files or new technology. We wanted to make it work for us. I had an epiphany: We, as photographers, had become the lab. We no longer dropped off our film. The processing and output was entirely in our hands. We took this moment to pause a bit and examine the kind of work we were doing.
Photo: From our Lens and Larder Workshop collaboration in Connemaraugh Ireland. Styling demo.
I started my blog, Hungry Ghost Food & Travel, to share a love of food and travel with friends. I started connecting to makers and restaurateurs and chefs. It was the smartest move I've ever made. It reconnected me to my passion and my roots.
Photo: From a collaboration with Gabriella Kiss Jeweler at her studio in Bangall, New York. It is one of the most beautiful studios I have ever seen and she is utterly true to herself.
I'm constantly inspired by my friends and the work they do artistically, physically and spiritually. A strong community allows one to trailblaze while staying grounded to people and place. It's important to stay connected to the earth and feel your feet on the ground. I can float away at times and my good friends pull me back down.
Photo: I'm working on a series called Natura Morta. I document decomposition of flower shrines. I'm obsessed with the palettes they create in their decay.
We've recently started a series of photography expeditions called This Is The Wanderlust. We partner with creatives in far-flung places and teach photography as a means of creating one's own narrative. We set up inspiring situations for students, so that everyone can come away with their own story. In this way, I hope that we can connect to creatives we admire around the world. We're in a time of creating our own narratives; we can no longer depend on traditional means of employment or education. Editorial photography is almost nonexistent. We want to teach people how to create and craft their own stories from the ground up. Craft and apprenticeship are the ways of the future. We see it as a "photo boot camp" of sorts, a way to skip the 60k art school education. It's a program for people who are self taught or new to photography.
Photo: Mescal Worker. Agave fields. Oaxaca, Mexico.
Travel informs everything we do. It's what we love most. We take what we see when we travel, and we bring it back into the studio with us. Light is everything. We have a memory bank of light, shadow and time of day. Everything is circular and comes back around. I love being a photographer, and I love the connection that it brings to people all over the world. With a camera in hand, I am aways welcome and invited into a life or scene I might otherwise never have been exposed to.
I recently saw a quote by Mary Ellen Mark and it resonated with me. "Realize the world is open." Indeed it is.
Photo: What was left behind. Market in Venice, Italy.
All images used with permission of Andrea Gentl.