September 2, 2015
Andrew Paynter is a San Francisco-based photographer and director, whose work ranges from documentary and portrait work to music videos and fashion shoots. Longman & Eagle recently collaborated with Paynter on the latest issue of our in-house newsprint zine (pictured below), L&E Volume 3, which was released this summer. This issue features Paynter’s landscape photography, and is available for guests in-room – it also acts as wallpaper in the the restaurant.
Land and Sea Dept. and Longman & Eagle partner Cody Hudson recently chatted with Andrew about his work.
Greetings – tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live, etc?
I am a North Carolinian, living in Oakland California with my wife and two kids. I work as a photographer and have directed a few commercials and short films.
I really like the “working artists” series you have been working on. What is it about the process of art making that you like to capture? Also, care to talk at all about the longer series of photos you have been shooting of artist Geoff McFetridge?
Thank you. Me too! I grew up admiring the work of David Duncan Douglas, who I discovered through a Picasso book I had as a teenager. It inspired me to to capture the work of artists who I both loved and had as friends. I always felt inspired by the old Magnum/reportage photographers and loved how their work made them feel a part of a scene, versus an outsider capturing. I hope the images feel from within, and less from outside.
I first met Geoff through my friend, artist Jon Santos. I had seen his work and always admired what he was doing. In 2007 Geoff asked me to accompany him to Holland where he was putting on a solo show at the Mu, in Eindhoven. He was there with his wife and daughter for the summer. It was this trip that led me to ask if he would be interested in doing a 10 year photographic project about his work, studio and life. I give him credit for both entertaining the idea and saying yes, as Geoff is a very private and modest person. But I felt the foresight into what ultimately would become him as a very influential person in the visual world. We are about to end the project next year and it has been so great to watch him grow and push himself as creative person. He’s next level.
You have some Chicago connections in your work. How did the Tortoise “Prepare Your Coffin” video you made come into being?
Yes, I love Chicago and its music scene. I’m a friend of Tortoise and their label folk at Thrill Jockey. I met them all mainly through Tommy Guerrero in the late 90’s. I was asked by John Herndon (TRTS drummer) and Bettina Richards (Thrill Jockey owner) to make a music video. I was a bit shocked as I really hadn’t done much of anything like that before. I kept thinking, did they mean to ask a different Andrew in their address book? Anyhow, at the time I was working in a design studio in SF as an art director, so I collaborated with some of the guys there, at Juice Design and I wrote a treatment and we hired Dan Wolfe to shoot and edit it. It was a labor of love, as some of the best things tend to end up being in life, and I guess the guys liked it enough to use it and then asked if I would design that record with my ‘SF Lines’ photographic work. It was clearly a dream come true project, as I have the upmost respect for them, as creatives of visual sound.
How long have you been working on the landscape series we used for the L&E zine? And what is it that about the far away landscapes that interests you?
For two years I lived in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, constantly going back and forth between the two. It was those trips that sparked the interest in making the mundane reality of my drive, beautiful. I would constantly stop and shoot polaroids and film and chose to shoot on a Hasselblad camera, which is square in format. I liked the idea of the antithesis of what a ‘landscape’ should be in shape and size. I was drawn to them being reduced to square shapes in my life. I also studied painting in college and was always drawn to the classic Dutch landscape artists. I was trying to kind of make my own photographs based on the light you’d see in some of those paintings.
Are you still working mainly with film? And what is it about film that draws you to continue to use it?
I’m still shooting mostly film, but sometimes, particularly when I’m shooting a commercial project, I have to shoot digital, which is solely based on the clients needs, etc. I’m not against it, but I do feel nothing compares to film. I love the cameras, formats and how forgiving it is, as a medium. There’s a great denim company based in West Wales called Hiut. I have been tasked to shoot a campaign / book for them once a year for 10 years and they still let me shoot all black and white film. Those photos are some of my favorite ones I’ve done to date, and some can be seen on my web site.
Alright, now some more random ones. What’s you favorite drink to order at a bar?
I’ve never been much of a drinker of alcohol. Maybe a nice cold glass of wine here and there, but mainly I’m that guy ordering an Arnold Palmer at the bar. Ha!
What does your typical lunch look like? And to contrast that, what would your ideal or favorite meal be?
For lunch, I often find myself out due to meetings, etc. I love a little gem salad with radishes and avocados and some sort of lentils or a baguette with salami. My favorite meal is probably when my mother-in-law shows up with her famous homemade Pho Ga, which she mastered as a young lady living in Saigon. My daughter wants it every night, but it’s a serious two day production!
Check out more of Andrew’s work HERE.