Americana through the eyes of Hungarian photographer, Audrey Krako
"There is a definite sense of timelessness, seclusion and authenticity in the deserts and small towns of California"
Photographer Audrey Krako explores themes of place and people, led by a fascination with colour, a preoccupation that developed as a result of past and present local environments; remembering her pastel-coloured hometown of Komlo in Hungary and her more subdued, current surroundings in a small, quiet village in West Sussex.
To coincide with the 90th anniversary of Route 66, we speak to Audrey about her two series: ’66 and Americana. Shot across the vast landscape of America, documenting the route to California, Audrey has recorded the natural elements of the landscape with hints of civilisation. She admits to making a conscious move away from fashion photography with this series, her previous mainstay within the medium, to document landscapes and desolate architecture, after feeling overcome with inspiration for a documentary series of a never-seen-before America. Together with fellow photographer Tom Grounds, who assists with pre and post production, they spotlight the nuances within the everyday.
Still aligned with Audrey’s aesthetic of crisp, pastel infused colour palettes and combined with dated décor, both series tell the story of forgotten towns, alongside youthfulness and the ‘all American Dream’. Exhibiting dusty pink skies, a sense of nostalgia and distressed architecture, Audrey’s work displays the American environment as she found it, in all its glory.
Junko: How did Route 66 and America end up being the centre of focus? Did it mould into your aesthetic or vice versa?
Audrey: It had always been a dream of mine to get to drive down Route 66 even before I realised my interest in photography. When I got out there I felt like it was the first time I’d been significantly inspired by colourful architecture and the typical American landscapes. I started to notice things I hadn’t before and ’66, although already a year ago, was the last of my shoots that incorporated fashion before moving into the more abstract and documentary shots of Americana and others.
Junko: Did America's diverse landscapes present any challenges for you whilst shooting either series?
Audrey: It turned out to be just how I imagined it. I sure didn’t struggle with photo opportunities. After all we did travel across the USA. In fact, I had so much material that ’66 was originally a three-chapter series; fashion, colour and polaroid/film shots – now merged into one, and I still had some left over that became early contributions to Americana. I suppose the main challenge for me with the ’66 series in particular was to put my spin on what has to be one of the most photographed places on the planet; I wanted to capture the places that may have gone unnoticed.
Junko: In what ways does your immediate environment have an influence on your work and aesthetic?
Audrey: I have always been obsessed with colours and textures but since I made the move into photography 3 years ago, I have been buying loads of independent magazines which opened up a whole new world to me. Where I live, there aren’t many colours so I guess my photos reflect the perfect and ideal place I would love to live in. My workspace at home is covered with my pictures, pink and magazines!
Junko: Did shooting in the Californian landscapes impact on your creative decisions or outlook while you were there?
Audrey: As I mentioned earlier, ’66 and Americana had such an impact on my photographic style that by the end, when we got to California, I had almost completely ditched the fashion aspect of the series. I feel like I managed to capture parts of Route 66 that have hardly been done before. The landscape certainly played its part; there is a definite sense of timelessness, seclusion and authenticity in the deserts and small towns of California. For me it wasn’t just about old motel signs and long stretches of road. ’66 explores a completely different side of the Mother Road.
Junko: How does photographing in California compare to other places you’ve documented?
Audrey: I think for me the thing I noticed most was that alongside the typical and well documented imagery of Californian landscapes and cityscapes; was that there is so much more to it than what you aren’t used to seeing. Old stories, local people and hidden places that are just as interesting and perhaps even more of an experience than all that we know and love about California. This could be true of anywhere; getting to experience something in person always gives you more; but it was this essence that I have tried to capture in the series.
To view the new series, Americana, and check out her Route 66 work, head over to Audrey's website: www.audreykrakophotography.com
Junko: Behind these series, how much is documenting the landscapes and environments as you find them and how much is creative direction?
Audrey: All the shots from ’66 and Americana are documenting those places. There was very little creative direction behind the majority of the shots - other than some of the fashion images - as I wanted to show Route 66 in its most natural form, in all its raw and romantic glory!
Junko: What or who are your influences? Whether it be other artists, place, cultures etc.?
Audrey: Before I went to the US I watched a lot of Tarantino and Coen Brothers films which are never far from my mind but I’m also currently very much into and extremely admire the work of Nadia Lee Cohen and Juno Calypso and Kimberly Dhollander. I’ve also recently been working on a series documenting the people and colours of my recent trips to Mexico and Cuba, so lots more to come!
Written by Lisa Higgins
Nov 9th 2016
Written by Louise Higgs
Nov 9th 2016