Andrew Kurcan on Capturing the Quiet, Unspoken Moments of Grief

All images and text by Andrew Kurcan. Used with permission.

For me, photography is not only a profession, but a way to cope, interact and understand the world around me. Earlier this year my brother-in-law died unexpectedly. Weeks later my mother passed away — equally unexpectedly. 2017 has been defined by grief — the loss, the anger, the confusion, the isolation — often a full gamut of emotions. Over the past few months, I have been shooting a photo essay titled On Grief as an attempt to capture those quiet moments when one is left with nothing but their own thoughts. Being a visual creative, I find that I cope and express best with imagery.

Why did you get into photography?

I came into photography a little backward, to be honest. I started out in radio, moving into television production, then lighting for video. Eventually, I wanted to focus on individual moments. Hence, photography.

What photographers are your biggest influences?

Stan Douglas, Timothy Hogan, Michael Kenna, Lee Friedlander.

How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been goofing around with cameras since I was little, but professionally just over 10 years.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

Life is a series of rapid, fleeting, chaotic moments that are at times beautiful and at times brutal. To freeze these moments, dissect them with the scalpel of an image is amazing to me.

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

I’m a coaxer. I try to find the most alluring angle and representation of whatever subject, feeling, or mood I am shooting.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically.

Mentally I’m looking for that spark — the A HA! moment. Mechanically, I’m adjusting the light, carefully editing details, and working with the subject.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

It varies — if it’s a commercial product shoot, there’s a lot of retouching. Portraits and personal work, so much less!

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

Currently, I’ve been working on my photo essay On Grief. 2017 has been a rough year, and this is how I’m healing. I want to get grieving out in the open. There is a weird kind of stigma attached to it — no one wants to really talk about loss and our eventual mortality. Additionally, people who have yet to go through this struggle to understand the internal strife that comes with grief (myself once included). I’m hoping that this can change that for some viewers.

What made you want to get into your genre?

For commercial photography, I love design, and the beauty of things that we make. For my personal works, I love capturing the chaos and beauty in every moment.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

I shoot Nikon, mostly digital with some film bodies from time to time. Lighting is my big focus — sometimes it’s a full strobe setup, speed lights, constant lights, a bunch of grip gear, etc. This most recent photo essay has been lit with only iPhones (no joke).

What motivates you to shoot?



Visit his website and Behance portfolio to learn more about Andrew Kurcan and his other works.