Trees Rocks Desert series by photographer Leandro Sanchez Some of his most inspirational moments as a photographer for Leandro Sanchez occur while he treks solo deep into the vast Western USA desert landscape, which have resulted in his photographic series such as "Rocks" (Rocas) and "Deserts".
Technically these shoots are complicated: searing sun, flash-storms, sandy gusts, rattlesnakes, or traversing massive rocks carrying photographic equipment can be difficult obstacles - yet nature always offers a visual reward. There has never been a time for Leandro when venturing deep into nature that he has come back empty-handed...
Nature, as he says, has a magic to it - various windows of opportunity that if you are in sync with the elements and focused enough, it is possible to capture those rare images of stark, majestic beauty.
For Leandro, hours of driving, walking, and climbing through rugged desert terrain are dedicated to simply scouting for that ideal location: a particularly perfect rock, or a unique vantage point where a photograph can masterfully tell multiple tales.
For many of the visuals he captures, Leandro ventures intentionaly deep into nature - places where most likely no one has for decades or more (possibly never) set foot on "that hill, that rock"... places that obey his 1/2 rule: half a tank of gas just to go one way in on a lonely dirt road, and the other half tank left for the way out, with a car loaded in gallons and gallons of water for the trip (plus extra lest he goes beyond that 1/2 tank rule and has to hike his way out on foot in solitude).
The heat easily reaches into the 100's daily and drops 50 degrees by night - in these places a flat tire means a certain 2 or 3 day walk back to the nearest road where he might find another passing car. The risk is large in the vast desert: Leandro could not realistically change a tire on a 30-degree hill, especially when totally alone...
But where there is risk, there is gain. Nature is a rigorous teacher of discipline - the one who does not go by that discipline will suffer, and the one who respects it stands to gain much. Alone in the desert armed with nothing but a camera and a simple drug-store rattlesnake bit remedy kit (which may or may not work once put to a true life-or-death test), times can be scary yet also extremely rewarding - some of the visuals that Leandro has captured in these series are the result of these long trips of solitude - a total disconect from the comforts and constraints of modern life.
For Leandro, these are moments of bliss - being in complete solitude in the deepest of a vast searing desert, pursuing that one image that reaches the pinnacle of artistry. Plunging in the guts of the master he calls nature, Leandro recalls a moment where all was almost put to the ultimate test: in 2010 when he was fiding focus on a night time shot, stepping back into the darkness... it was a matter of mere inches as he saw for his first time a rattlesnake - it was for Leandro a moment when he realized who exactly rattles whom: nature rattles us, and that's just the order to be respected in nature. The snake would not back down and slither away - neither dust, tossed sticks, noise would work - nothing moved the serpent from near Leandro's tripod; only patience made him realize that one waits for nature - its laws are clear: we adapt to nature, not the other way around.
Clearly that knowledge paid off and several shots were achieved in that stunning moonlit night. Leandro does not look to just photograph, he looks to show the magic that surrounds us, the powerful place that we inhabit. Leandro recognizes how lucky he is to be part of such a grand voyage... At times, back in NYC while perusing his photos and color-correcting the images, Leandro alters the colors of his nature photography, like he does in his Directing work - whether there is color film rolling in the camera or B&W, he believes Nature reacts the same way. Similarly, in his digital still photography, Leandro at times alters nature's tones to make the image more vibrant to the human eye.
He photographs during the day what is clearly visible, at night what is clearly non visible to the naked eye, whether via strobes or portable lights, to illustrate the full intention of his work - he is always in search of the visuals that capture this with emotion; a marriage of technique, art and light to deliver unique visuals of what's already grand: "NATURE". Leandro is an Award winning photographer at ARTSLANT 2010 showcase bio The photographic eye of Leandro Sanchez, award winning photographer (artslant showcase 2010) has been influenced greatly by his diverse upbringing on three continents, which helped formulate his unique outlook on life as witness to 3 world cultures as well their as rich natural landscapes.
Background: Leandro was born in Venezuela at the entry of the 1970's. The grandson of a known Venezuelan political figure of the 1950's and 1960's who fought against the dictatorship and established democracy in the country, Leandro's mother's family was extradited to Cuba and then the USA/NYC as a child until her family was allowed to return to Venezuela after the dictatorship toppled. There she met Leandro's father, a chemical engineer, whose roots include a proud association to his indigenous Guajiro Indian heritage. Hence Leandro was soaking in differing political ideologies even as he was learning to speak...
Leandro moved with his family to Paris as a child while his parents attended graduate school in France, living mere blocks from the visual feast of Luxembourg garden. In Paris Leandro was immersed in French culture, civilization and language for nearly 4 years until he moved back to Venezuela at age 8.
Leandro's privileged life in Venezuela as a youth in private schools and as a culture- sponge teenager allowed him frequent trips to the USA where he learned English with his Miami cousins and where Leandro also developed a lifelong passion for New York City, his eventual home. This diverse, tri-continent lifestyle began to drive Leandro toward the questioning mind, discerning eye and his adventurous spirit that is at the core of his work. Though he came from a fortunate lifestyle, Leandro never bought into the elite mentality that prevailed in his class and time, this rather has made him battle the obvious disparities that exist in Latin American society between rich and poor.
Leandro left Venezula at 18 to return to Paris to attend University (La Sorbonne, "Cours de langue et Civilization Francaise") where he began his adult visual artistic journey - Leandro attended film school ( E.I.C.A.R) and soon began working as a scout for film and commercials in his early 20's.
Leandro would head off alone from Paris, armed only with a camera and a notepad, visually scouring France, Spain, and beyond for the best scenic locations, which helped enormously to guide his knowledge and taste for seeking out perfect light, for finding the beautiful and the unique in both nature and in civilization.
It didn't take long for Leandro's keen eye and filmic sensibilities to catapult him into the director's chair, and in his 20's Leandro began his career as a professional Director of Commercials in Paris. By 28, Leandro moved across the Atlantic to find his intellectual mate: New York City, where all cultures collide and meld in modern balance.
In Manhattan, Leandro spent his free time photographing and painting when he wasn't directing commercials on locations around the globe. Leandro was introduced to his visual spiritual mate when his wife (then his girlfriend) showed Leandro the splendor of the vast North American deserts on his birthday in 2000 while on a trip to California - even though Leandro didn't turn his professional aim fully toward photography for another 10 years, Leandro had met one of his strongest visual muses in the stark beauty of the West's deserts, and he couldn't help but aim his lens on the vast canvas of nature there.
Also along this visual trail, Leandro turned his aim toward painting, and his indigenous- inspired murals earned gallery exhibitions in NYC (TriBeCa and elsewhere in Manhattan), plus a duo show in the Miami design district participating at the Basel Art Fair in the 2005. Now Leandro's gallery showings in New York and London are featuring his unique visual photographic works (T.O.A.S.T in NYC, London's St.Bride Foundation Bridewell Theater). His photography continues to gain accolades as Leandro's work is featured not only in galleries but also in print, digital magazines, photography sites, art critics' picks and most recently the photo essay magazine LIFE Force UK, which only grabs monthly some of the top photo essays and photojournalism made around the globe.
Leandro was chosen in July 2011 to participate with his photo essay of RAMONA GARDENS, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the globe. Leandro's visual photo reportage grasped the very core of the off-limits gang culture. Whether Leandro's photographic series are portraying stark nature, social portraits, mythical creatures, cityscapes or enigmatic light/strobe painting, Leandro's visual complexity and diverse background are stunningly apparent - his rich cultural mesh continues to influence his art expansively, in his fight to show how when all forces unite, the certain result becomes pure beauty.