Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Aundre Larrow is a 24-year-old Brooklyn-based photographer who actively posts on his Instagram account, @aundre. From travel photography to street-style portraits, Aundre captures the pulse of New York's creative scene. Running with a crew of talented writers and photographers alike, Aundre's Instagram feed is just a taste of what this photographer has to offer.
Have you ever wondered what a career as a freelance photographer is like? Are you anxious to learn more about what gear you may need and inside tips on social media? Aundre sheds light on this and more: from his creative process to how he's made a name for himself in the nation's bustling media epicenter, read below to learn more about Aundre's life as a freelance photographer in New York City.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
When I was in high school, I used to hang out with my good friend and this really talented artist, Jeff Gardner, after school. He would invite me over and work on different music, and he would then play it while he worked on some graphic design. I was so envious of how seamlessly he would transition between each art form, but I worried that I couldn’t express myself creatively in design (because photoshop was scary at the time) and through music (I quit guitar, keyboard and saxophone throughout childhood).
So I settled on photography. My theater teacher (Mr. Tempest) gave me a Minolta Srt-101 for my 16th birthday. It all kind of took off from there.
What does the life and work of a freelance photographer entail?
A lot of anxiety! I worry a lot about not delivering what my clients want, or when I do editorial shoots for bevelcode, not capturing the true essence of the subject.
But in actuality it’s like most jobs, with less clearly defined hours and pay (those are for you to decide.)
What are the day-to-day obligations of freelance photography?
My day to day is pretty calm because I work a 10-6 job, but usually I reach out to a brand via Instagram direct messages Sometimes I also get a recommendation from someone to check them out, or they reach out to me. We chat about how we can work together and then I start to get the ball rolling.
Day to day, it’s about being active on social so people see your work: editing work you shot, sending proofs, making revisions and spending time studying the work of others to see what is successful.
What's an example of a previous photography assignment you’ve received?
Before I started working full-time at Walker and Company, I used to freelance shoot for their editorial site bevelcode.com. I got an assignment to shoot Lance Fresh (@lancefresh), the NBA style guru, with less than two weeks notice.
I was crazy excited. I love the NBA and I had seen Lance on television several times. So I asked myself: where can I take him? So I did research, pitched it, made a mood board and then walked the route in Soho I wanted to take him. This was someone I admired, and it was projected to rain that day.
What’s that process like? Is it a collaborative effort between you and the brand?
It's super collaborative. I usually ask for a mood board from them, which includes my photos and photos from other places. If the brand is NYC based, I encourage them to come along when I shoot so they can art direct and get a first hand view of how the process going. The better expectations are managed, the stronger the final product is, in my opinion.
What makes your line of work different from any other?
Hmm, I would have to say that since everyone has a camera by way of their phone, they think they can do your job. But the emergence of Instagram gives it this weird reverence: like attainable but super, super admired, which makes sense, because photography isn’t seen as high-art.
What do you hate most about your line of work?
People arguing about price and then just saying, 'what’s the big deal? It’s just photos.'
What do you love most about your line of work?
I get to try to capture the essence of a person and freeze it. That is such an awesome privilege and honor.
Why is photography important to you?
It forces me out of my default setting of being. I am actively looking at people’s faces, how light acts and reacts in the wild and to the world around me in general. It’s awesome. And without it, I would probably be checked out most of the time.
How do you blend social media and photography?
They aren’t always super different. Other times they are. My main struggle with it is sometimes an image can be awesome but it won’t resonate well with an online audience. It may be better in a gallery or something other than a one-second stop while scrolling.
I try to consult my peers when I have these internal discussions, and I also try to use different channels to show different parts of my work. I use Tumblr for more long form work, Instagram for the ‘bangers’ (I hate that word) and Facebook for the more personal portraits (that way the people that care about that person can see them and love them.)
Is social media important to you as a photographer? Does it allow you to share your work to more people?
It’s absolutely vital for me. It allows my work to have seismic impact. The ripples of social media allow my work to go before the eyes of people beyond my friends and the people I can just touch. It makes sharing easy and photography less about you and your work and how it weaves into the world’s story.
What’s your favorite iPhone editing app?
How do you carry your equipment? Any favorite bag of choice?
I carry the leather Brixton ONA bag in cognac.
What’s your favorite add-on camera gadget, and how does it help you in your creative process?
Probably my off camera flash cord. It lets me shoot parties without assaulting people’s eyes with flash.
What is your number-one piece of advice for someone who wants to become a photographer?
Take your time shooting—don’t rush yourself. Talk to your subject a while. Take a minute and look at what you shot, then look at your subject and see if there are any details you find interesting but haven’t conveyed yet, then isolate that.
What’s your favorite camera brand to shoot with? Any particular medium you prefer?
Canon, all day. My second camera after the Minolta was a Canon AV-1. I picked a Nikon D40 up in high school and was just confused by it.
Can you give a brief overview of your creative process and shed some light on how you edit your photos?
Truthfully, it really differs per shoot. The first thing I am looking for are the shadows. I want my blacks to be right. I play with those a bit. I then ask myself what mood I was trying to achieve, check to see if it was achieved, and then see how I can display that on the color spectrum through tints.
It’s not always that entire series of thoughts, but that’s the sentiment.
How does travel play into your work and life?
It helps a lot. A friend of mine recently said that when he shoots in NYC now he may come back with one good photo each time.
How do you think a photograph affects the world’s perception of a place?
It’s negative and positive. We live in a world of FOMO (fear of missing out). We hate missing out. So thanks to photography mixed with social media - we don’t really have to. We can fall in love with places we have never been, with people we have never seen and food we’ve never eaten. It makes that place magical and our current situation less so.
Do you feel a duty to share moments that generate thoughtful conversations? If so, how do you pick your subjects?
Ah, not really. I shoot what I like and in that something heavy usually comes out of it. We are complex people: joy can be joy because pain just preceded it. I choose people based on how they look and what the light is like. Some settings require someone with a more eccentric look, other ones don’t. I don’t really know until I see the person and the environment (that’s why scouting is so important)
Do you ever find it hard to disconnect due to your role? Is it hard to pass a beautiful scene and not photograph it?
I honestly don’t think it’s too big of a deal. Some things don’t need to be photographed. Some things can’t be because they happen too fast. Some because you’ll see them again. Some because you forgot your camera and some because you just don’t feel like it.
I try to give myself space in to just live and not worry about capturing always.
Any favorite destinations in the world?
Honestly, everything is exciting. When I was a kid, I collected state coins.
What are your hobbies outside of photography?
Basketball! Playing frisbee. Biking and eating.
Where are you off to next?
The Dominican Republic to shoot my Lance Fresh's wedding. After that, I'm off to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina for some Fourth of July beach time, and hopefully some long exposure firework shots.