John Spyrou, Fractured State, People in Florida, Lampoon
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Fractured State: John Spyrou on documenting Florida and its idiosyncrasies

From Orlando to Homestead, Florida’s ethnographic and vegetative landscapes takes life in John Spyrou’s latest limited-edition book, born from a few days trip the photographer took in 2021

Life Journeys Have No Linearity

John Spyrou’s Fractured State is a limited-edition book featuring thirty-eight grayscale and colour images that explore the ethnographic and vegetative landscapes of Florida. The medium format images were taken as Spyrou drove from Orlando to Homestead, during a week in June 2021 as a means to explore this idiosyncratic state. The book is available for purchase on Spyrou’s website or in-store/online at Dashwood Books and Launch Photo Books in NYC. Prints are available in limited numbers upon request.

But Spyrou’s journey towards photography wasn’t as linear as one would imagine. «I don’t have a photography background. I went to Oxford University and I studied biochemistry». When Spyrou graduated, he moved straight to New York City, without knowing which steps to take after yet. «I moved here when I was twenty-two and started doing fashion, portraiture and assisting a lot of people. I had been living in London all my life and I wanted to try something different at the time». John Spyrou visited the renowned American city as a teenager and fell in love with it. The spark New York left in Spyrou was strong that he desired to move there for years.

Artists that had an influence

«Now I know that this is my life’s work». Photography and its evolution have always been with Spyrou ever since, accompanied by the exploration of places he lives in. «I don’t use any digital cameras except for commercial projects, it’s an easier way to work. You just have a light meter and a camera. It’s a nice surprise at the end because you forget what photos you’ve actually taken over the course of a shoot». At the end of every session, the photographer digitally scans the images. The process involves a color grading and color retouch eventually, or a session of darkroom printing if black and white.

Behind Fractured State photographic project, John Spyrou took inspiration from a series of artists who influenced his visions. «My main inspiration was the American photographer Joel Sternfeld, he’s been doing it since the sixties and seventies. He shoots beautiful landscapes, all large format images taken from quite a high viewpoint. They all mostly have one focal point in the distance and are really well thought out». Other references behind his project have also been Jacques Sonck, Stephen Shore, Josef Koudelka and Andrew Miksys among others.

Fractured State While Traveling

Fractured State is a book that encloses the fractures that the State of Florida, in America, has collected over the years. As the photographer explains: «It’s like a fractured part of America where few things seem to make sense and there are a lot of socio-political problems». Especially after the Trump elections, the area became more problematic, just like any other state that is under Republican governance. The meaning behind the title has its roots in a bucolic sphere as well though. «It first started with a couple of images that I was first looking at when I was editing. There were physical cracks in the ground, some fractures literally. This then made sense together with the political situation».

Exploring America

Most of the work of John Spyrou has its focus in portraiture and fashion, differently from Fractured State. What brought the photographer to develop such a project has been the curiosity that exploration encompasses. «I wanted to explore more of America and always loved meeting new and different people. It’s a nice opportunity to try a different approach to photography because most of my work is very studio based. It’s a nice exercise to look at landscapes, find a beautiful backdrop and then somebody that might fit in there. It’s just a way of exploring high-end photography and exercising my creativity».

Since living in America, Spyrou traveled many times within the country, exploring different states and landscapes or personalities they hide. The camera is his way to explore these states and becomes a vehicle to meet people that he wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise. «A few years ago I flew to Nashville and then drove through Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, just taking portraits of people».

 Spyrou deeply enjoys driving and meeting random people and seeing where that takes him. He usually does not schedule his trips nor define specific routes beforehand, he just drives. Whenever the photographer gets tired, he picks a place to sleep. «Most people that go to Florida, they go to Miami or the beach. But, with a project like this, it forces me to explore different parts of America that one necessarily wouldn’t, for any reason».

From Politics To People, It’s All About Decisions

The fact that Trump is based in Florida was a reason why Spyrou decided to visit the area. «I had never been there before, and I heard all these strange stories about the state. They don’t consider themselves part of the South, but they are also not up north in America. I wanted to see what it was like to live in such a place, and meet the people there, especially post-Trump».

Moreover, Spyrou traveled to the area at the end of the first restrictions due to the pandemic. «There’s this image with a covered big memorial. It was a Covid-19 memorial. There are all these cardboard gravestones, and it says ‘In memory of those we lost to Covid-19».

Landscape and people

Florida has been a state where no one was wearing masks, with lots of anti-vax. It was interesting for Spyrou to travel there, being pro-vaccine, it felt like a completely different world to him.

People have been an important addition to Spyrou’s photographic style. «In the past, when I did these road trips, I found that the portraits of strong landscapes were strong, but were missing an interesting twist. So this time I wanted to try and merge them with people».

 The photographer usually picks a nice backdrop and then just waits for people to come along. The majority of people he asked in Florida, always accepted to partake in the shooting. «I always ask their email address to send them the photos afterwards. I always would like my photography to be a collaboration in a way, even if they don’t have any interest in photography». 

Re-Evaluating Choices In A Post-Pandemic World

Fractured State was born in 2021, after the depressing and limiting time we spent in our houses in 2020. Covid-19 impacted the life of any creative person all over the world, but made it possible to discover new ideas as well.

«The interesting thing was that I would only really photograph black and white before the pandemic. And then afterwards I started shooting color for the first time. I think I needed a change and maybe a break from photography, and started being inspired by color more».

Spyrou still prefers black and white over color when taking portraits in the studio. But because he had been stuck inside for so long, he suddenly saw the world and its colors going outside.

Moving back to London

«There was definitely a big change, my work was finally able to evolve into manipulating color. For example, it has taken me a year to produce and edit the photos properly, spending a lot of time on color. The pandemic allowed time and focus to look at photography in a different way».

John Spyrou confesses he’s actually considering moving back to London soon, to be closer to Europe and his family roots. That is not before developing another American project he has in mind already. «I’ve been waiting to do a big California and Utah trip, maybe using large format film. Also spending more time, maybe a month or something, instead of ten days or a week in the place».

John Spyrou

John Spyrou was born in 1990 in London. In 2013 he received his MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford and then moved to New York. He has pursued a career in photography ever since, focusing mainly on portraiture and fashion editorial work.

Giorgia Feroldi

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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