The famed portrait photographer Arnold Newman used to say, quoting Louis Pasteur, that “chance favors the prepared mind.”
And that is why, Newman believed, “so many great ‘accidents’ seem to happen to the better photographers.”
Orleans’ native son Andrew de Lory has held Newman’s words close during his photographic career traveling the world and photographing the famous, the great and the interesting.
“In my experience, what I call ‘intuitive anticipation’ has led to many successful photographs,” de Lory said during an email interview last week. That’s “feeling, almost knowing, that something is going to happen before it actually does, then moving to make a stronger composition and being technically ready to capture a decisive moment with camera.”
You can see the fruits of de Lory’s “prepared mind” in “Retrospective: Photographs by Andrew de Lory 1957-2017,” which will be on display through April 30 at the Gallery at Orleans Camera. The show consists of about 40 photographs spanning 60 years. De Lory has grouped the photographs chronologically so that they also tell the story of his own life, beginning with his early years on the Cape, later years in California, Vietnam and Europe, and again on the Cape.
“Part of my endeavor producing this show is to tell short stories with mini essays along the way, pairing related images in the same frame,” he says. For example, he photographed Edward Hopper’s studio in Truro on a “bitterly cold” day in January 1965. His father, who knew the Hoppers, sent the photo to them. In return, he received a letter from Hopper’s wife Josephine praising the photo. “It’s a wonderful letter and it gives great praise to the image,” de Lory says. Her letter is included in the show.
De Lory first picked up his mother Eileen’s fold-up Kodak in 1957 when he was nine. Then, in 1965, shortly after he graduated from Chatham High School, he had his first taste of being in the right place at the right time.
“I persuaded a family friend and editor of The Cape Codder, Malcolm Hobbs, to request a press pass for access to the Newport Folk Festival,” he recalls. “I went at my own expense, borrowing a Nikon camera with 50mm and 135mm lenses.” At the festival he photographed such iconic figures as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Doc Watson and many more. During the Sunday night concert, on July 25, when Dylan “plugged in” and played the electric guitar, upsetting many in the audience, de Lory captured a shot.
In 1966, de Lory entered the San Francisco Art Institute. Interestingly, during this period he lugged around a bulky 8x10 view camera. He was then under the spell of Edward Weston, the great photographer of the west who shot green peppers that looked like nudes. Using this camera de Lory created the photographs “Dunes,” “Eureka Valley” and “King’s Canyon” in Death Valley.
After this, de Lory transferred to the London Film School. “In the grips of wanderlust…I attended four different colleges, learned a lot and never got a degree,” he says. This was also the Vietnam War era. Facing the draft, de Lory applied to be a conscientious objector. A letter from the conservationist John Hay of Brewster helped support de Lory’s case. (A photograph of Hay’s daughter Kitty is in the show.) De Lory was sent to Vietnam as a non-combatant photographer and created an impressive portfolio there. When he returned to England in the fall of 1971, he worked as a freelance photojournalist photographing Prince Charles, the Royal Guards, Ambassador Elliot Richardson and more. And this time, when he enrolled in the College of Journalism in London, he earned a degree in 1973. In November 1977, when he was artist in residence at Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem, he met two major figures whom he did not photograph. The spy novel writer John le Carré and French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre were his immediate neighbors. Le Carré declined de Lory’s request to sit for a portrait and de Lory was not inclined to make the same request of Sartre, who was already frail.
Back in San Francisco, as a freelancer, de Lory established a studio. Throughout his career de Lory believed that to be a successful artist you need to be truly interested in your subject. He was struck by a line from a poem that “no one is uninteresting.”
De Lory and his wife Esther now live on Pilgrim Lake in South Orleans. As well as photographing the Cape’s natural beauty and people, de Lory is writing a historical novel based on events and people he knew between 1968 and 1980. The story is told from the perspective of a young artist “who struggles to protect his moral compass,” he says.
“Retrospective: Photographs by Andrew de Lory 1957 -2017” will be on display in the Gallery at Orleans Camera at the Skaket Corners Shopping Center from April 9 to 30, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays. For more information call the gallery at 508-240-1300.