Joyful Abandon Jonathan Castellino on the pleasure of simplified process and shooting with the Leica Q

For the past six months the Leica Q has been my primary camera, and the experience has been liberating. As a photographer I appreciate advancements, which simplify process, rather than amplifying technique. As an urban explorer, having a tool that does not distract from what is in front of me is important.

At its core, urban exploration is no more than exploring the built environment with a sense of wonder and excitement. It is also an examination of things beneath the surface: the built-unknown, from infrastructure to ruins. I have a deep respect for unseen places. My ambition is to maintain no preconceptions about what my experience will look like, there. In this light, the less to ‘me’ there is, the better: I am temporarily un-abandoning this architecture, and in so doing, documenting the transition from space to place.

Photography is a constant process of stripping away. This is not only an outward movement, seeking truth through documentation, but an inward one as well. It makes sense, then, that the Leica Q has become my companion in the places I visit. I can experience a bit more freedom than dear old rangefinder affords me; my image will not turn to sandpaper quite so quickly. And if it does? A beautiful black and white. No lens options: everything is given. Ditch the tripod. Be accurate, but quick. Sacrifice. Move along. These are only traces, anyhow: poems for the invisible subject. Illuminate the shadows. Take solace in a little emptiness.

I have a kind of lucid indifference to technology while exploring with the Leica Q. I trust it. I can focus on my body moving through the quiet. I retain an anonymity before all things I encounter. I do not want to utter much sound or light; I want to partake in what is around me, as hollow as possible, observing the small desolations, the intimacy with my fragility (are we not drawn to ruins as a mirror, after all?). What am I really in front of? The barrier should be as thin as possible if I want to find out. I am a soul unaccompanied, spinning through a vantage of memory, in which I have no place. I want to resurrect the ordinary, explore an undifferentiated past, and revel in the remembered shape of an altered thing. This is my time, this elected silence. There is simply no room for critical camera features hidden in some sub-menu. Thank you, Q.

I am trying to tell a story, and the more ground that I cover, the less the narrative is about a particular location. We are visual creatures: this is how I see. The phenomena captured in these images stand outside of space and time as metaphor: we stare at them in the hope that the opacity will somehow drop, revealing a lived experience. Modern ruins, the natural history of destruction, all point to a cognitive null point, which has no duration. Or more precisely, it has only one point. Exploring does this to you. You become ready for all things at all times; foveal vision is somehow expanded. Woven in silence, colors, textures, smells, everything is suddenly important — an alertness that goes beyond safety, where everything is renewed.

Jonathan Castellino

To see more of Jonathan’s stunning photos visit his website or flickr

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