Some photographers believe their strongest work comes from exploring their immediate surroundings. “I think of myself as a regional photographer,” Loranc says, “but that does not mean the photography cannot be understood beyond the region. Right now people all over the United States indicate to me that regionalism, born of an informed attachment, has universal appeal.” Loranc shoots most of his pictures within an hour’s drive of his home in California but he is also interested in exploring his ancestral roots in Europe. For this reason he makes occasional photographic forays into Poland and Lithuania.
“I’m fascinated by the ancient churches of my homeland,” he says. “These are holy spaces where millions of people have prayed for hundreds of years. They are places of great humility, and remind us how brief our lives are. I feel the same way when I’m photographing ancient groves of native oaks in California. I was unconscious of this when I began, but upon reflection, I think the oaks are just as sacred as the old cathedrals of Europe. They are sacred in that they have survived for so many years. I’m aware that the native people of California held all living things as divine. For me a grove of Valley Oaks is as sacred as any church in Europe.”
“I think about how interconnected the world is,” Loranc says. “When I’m out on a crisp winter’s morning, shooting a stand of native oaks, I see oak galls hanging from the trees. These were once used to make the pyrogallol chemicals I use to develop my negatives. So the oak trees I am photographing played a part in the developer I use to process my negatives of those trees. It is healthy to remember that we are often linked to the natural world in ways we don’t even suspect.”
Loranc shapes the photo from start to finish. He operates a 4×5 Linhof field camera, shoots the majority of his photographs with a 210mm Nikkor lens, using Kodak’s classic Tri-X film, and hand prints his negatives on multigrade fiber paper. The innate drama of the landscapes is reproduced through a variable split-toning (sepia and selenium) technique. All the printing, spotting, and archival mounting are done by the photographer.
Roman Loranc was born in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, in 1956. He emigrated to the United States in 1981. In 1984 he moved to California, and shortly thereafter fell in love with the Central Valley.