Andrew Hector began photography three years ago in Florida. Using only his mobile phone, Hector began documenting beaches, sunrises and sunsets in Florida. Once uploaded to the cloud (Instagram’s, that is) he got in touch with two of his now best friends, Jeffrey Mullin Jr. and John Lomas IV. Together, the three set out to travel to places only seen on social media, places like Mount Davidson, Mount Tamalpais, and for the first time in his life a national park, in this case Yosemite.
Along with Rachael Fouchier a friend from Vancouver, they were now shooting iconic locations from a really untrained but fresh perspective. That same week Instagram added Hector to their suggested user list making his photography available to thousands of more people in a very short time. During that trip they also hiked to Sentinel Dome and witnessed up till that time a truly amazing sunrise, according to Hector. “I promised myself I would visit all the national parks in the U.S. as soon as possible. 39 national parks later I am still working on that goal of seeing all 59 but it’s led me to landscapes I never knew were real.”
His goal now is to start a non-profit where himself and the community of photographers can offer free photo guided tours of the national parks to inner city families. Hector continued talking about his enlightenment once he got involved with Leica: “8 weeks ago in between photo shoots in Miami I decided to stop by a Leica Store in that city. My friend was working on a project and he was strongly considering shooting it all with a Leica. That was my first time holding a Leica, I took a total of three photos with an M9 35mm Summilux-M. I took a portrait of my friend, a photo of the book on the coffee table and one of the general space of the store, all well outside of my normal subjects and I was stoked over all three shots. They looked like art and I began to imagine if my perspective, the limited light in the store, and this camera could create a photo of a book that I was proud of, what could I do with a Leica in a place like Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Zion and so on. That moment I made it a goal to shoot with Leica as soon as possible.”
Andrew Hector also refers to something that might be common among the new generation of photographers. “Admittedly the first day with the T was tough. I wanted to look through a viewfinder of a traditional SLR, adjust every setting manually and hold one button while pressing another button while using another finger to focus or I just wanted to take out my phone, tap the screen and press one button. I didn’t know there was this beautiful experience in between those that is the Leica T.” On that same type of approach, he also agrees with the feel of the Leica T in terms of weight and using it through long periods of time without ending up with neck pain.
“I was shooting with a 23mm which on the T is basically the classic 35mm perspective. I treated my phone camera like a prime lens never zooming in so using a prime 23mm came natural but to see almost zero distortion on the images was a welcomed surprise.” He explains that aside from a few moments of using the 18-56mm lens he solely used the 23mm from that point on.
Hector’s favorite genre has been landscape and cityscape but highlights the sense of fulfillment when shooting a great portrait and even more so, a solid candid moment in the street. “I feel like shooting a variety of styles helps me to bring something different to each genre. Many of the landscapes I shoot are hard to take a bad photo of so the challenge is to capture them in good unique light and if possible some different perspective. The T adds that feel to a photo that I realize now was missing.”
Photographs taken with the Leica T contain a wide range of different depths and perspectives. Not surprisingly, the camera performed very well in a variety of natural lighting, as Hector highlights. “One of my favorites was the image of the Brooklyn bridge at sunrise. The T picked up the depth I wanted immediately and then it helped me play with the perspective to create something original of maybe one of the top three photographed bridges in the world.”
As many of you know already Instagram was popular for its square image crop. This has changed in the recent months, and for Hector, it put traditional photographers at a disadvantage. With an enviable Instagram following, he embraced this challenge and shot specifically for Instagram. Even when creating work that wasn’t planned for the popular medium, he’d always leave room to crop the subject in a square. It also required using cropping as an editing tool. “I really had to make sure to take the best photo possible because cropping would make any imperfections larger and easier to identify. Nowhere portrait style crop is what is popular and shooting with the T I’m confident that the quality will be strong enough to crop an image even down to 1/3 of the image to be able to share it in 4×5 portrait format.”
Leica is part of the Miami Street photography Festival this year at Art Basel Miami. We asked Hector about the Instagram community in Miami, foreseeing expectations of its participants. He described how Leica is gaining popularity in South Florida. The culture of Miami is always undergoing these slight changes and with how colorful the city is it makes for great street photography. He points out the relation of Leica and the up-and-coming generations of Instagrammers: “As myself and other Instagrammers mature as photographers and begin to shoot more street story telling images, Leica will be the clear favorite to use.”
Leica will host a special program named “24 hours in Miami”, harnessing the Instagram community and encouraging them to take pictures for 24 hours with Leica cameras. “24 hours seems like a quick assignment but many of us are Instagrammers, we were bred to shoot quick often and make the most of our surroundings. The light and mood of Miami changes so often in one day I’m excited what my friends and peers will create. For some of them it will be the first time shooting Leica. I have a feeling we will be seeing work from the well outside of their normal comfort zone. Leica cameras have a way of capturing the simple moments of life in a fine art way. Each of the artists loves this city. They’re going to make Miami and Leica proud to have hosted such an unprecedented event for South Florida. A photographer named Gabriel Sanchez (@gabe_media). He got a Leica camera tattoo who knows how long ago and he’s about emotional as me when it comes to using their cameras. For him to be part of the 24hr event must feel like a huge highlight in his young career as a photographer.”
Connect with Andrew Hector and follow him on Instagram.
To find more about Miami Art Basel and Leica, and the 24 hours in Miami Project, please visit this site.