Geordie Wood first got his hands on a Mamiya camera while attending the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, beginning his academic career as a Photojournalism major. It was there the Winchester, Massachusetts native used an RZ67 with a Phase One back and a 645 AFD II with a Leaf back. Wood was the winner of a MAC-on-Campus Award while an undergrad. “Eventually, I got more into studio portraiture and fashion photography,” explains Wood. “I started using a Sekonic light meter, and I really fell in love with the timbre and rhythm of working with film. The pacing allows you time to think, which is something I couldn’t do personally with shooting digitally.”
Wood assisted Steve McCurry in New York, photographer of one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th Century, Afghan refugee Sharbat Gula. Wood was influenced by Alex Majoli, Alex Webb, and other Magnum photographers who made excursions into remote parts of the world and came back with rolls of brilliant photographs. He wanted nothing more than to become a photojournalist.
After graduating from Newhouse, he printed for McCurry for five months and acted as his digital coordinator, saving up money for a trip to Nepal. Staying four months and shooting 250 rolls of 220 Kodachrome with his Mamiya 645 and Sekonic meter, he “walked the valley, stayed away from the computer, and made pictures,” he says. When asked about his concentration of portraits taken of the Nepalese, Wood discusses the turning point in his career. “Even though I grew up having great respect for those documentarians and photojournalists, I realized I didn’t want to come back with the stereotypical National Geographic shots. That’s why I made the choice to move toward portraits. I really like working one-on-one with people, talking to them, finding out what their lives are like. I hope, in the end, my photos don’t look like a photographer went to Katmandu Valley and came back with a story about the Katmandu Valley. Instead, I want it to look like I went there and came back with my own perspective on the place and the people I met.” Planning a show of his Katmandu photos in New York, Spring, 2010, Wood printed a test at 36 x 48 inches. “A monster print,” he says, “off a chrome slide from the Mamiya 645. It’s super-crisp, super-clean. I’m really happy with the quality of the images off that camera, which I actually bought for that trip.”
After Nepal, Wood recalibrated his goals from being a photojournalist to more of a portraiture- and fashion-based photographer. ”It took me a while to learn how to have foresight in my photography. It changed the way I took photos. Being able to think critically and use the film and my Sekonic L-358 light meter has changed the way I take photos.”
Wood credits his big break as coming when he was hired by The Fader. “It’s really hip, and I shoot my Mamiya for their assignments,” he says. “They hire me and want me to be exactly the kind of photographer I am.”
As far as advice for other young photographers, Wood says, “In the end, you need to have a really sharp perspective of what’s going on around you. I speak to a lot of other photographers and view a lot of shooters.” He recommends this approach to all who hope to go pro. “Hopefully, at the end of the day you can compile a list of things you want to do and aim in that direction you want to work in.”
Written by Ron Egatz