Over his 60-year career, photographer Andrew de Lory has traveled the world capturing singular moments in history and notable people from Bob Dylan to Prince Charles.By Debra Lawless
When photographer Andrew de Lory of Orleans was a teenager, he photographed the South Truro home and studio of two of the Cape’s most famous summer residents: Edward and Jo Hopper. De Lory’s father, Jimmy, who knew the Hoppers, mailed the photo to them in New York. In return, he received a letter from Jo Hopper with high praise for the budding photographer. “Of course, E. Hopper thinks the photo you sent us is a beauty,” Jo wrote in April 1966.
Until 1944, Jimmy de Lory ran the Indian Filling Station in North Wellfleet. The iconic station served as one of the models for Hopper’s famous 1940 painting “Gas.” It was also where Hopper bought his fuel.
Today, Andrew de Lory, a fourth-generation Cape Codder, is 71. His great-grandfather made barrels for holding mackerel, and his grandfather was a Wellfleet oysterman who harvested ice from the ponds in the winter.
Early on, de Lory learned that in order to be a successful artist, you have to be truly interested in your subject. By the summer of 1962, he was creating enigmatic photographs of people such as his Wellfleet friend Helen Miranda Wilson, daughter of the literary critic Edmund Wilson. De Lory’s subjects rarely gaze directly into the camera. Rather, their gaze seems to be directed inward, adding a layer of subtlety and mystery, as in a 1982 color photo of his wife, Esther, titled “Chinoise Rouge.”
For many of de Lory’s generation, photographing folk musicians and rock stars was one route to fame. Just out of high school in the summer of 1965, de Lory packed his Nikon, two lenses and black-and-white film and headed to the Newport Folk Festival with a press pass. At the festival, he photographed Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Doc Watson.
Capturing images of war was another rite of passage for many photographers. After being granted conscientious objector status, de Lory found himself working as a photographer in Vietnam. “I spent a lot of time in the medevac with the dead and dying,” says de Lory, adding he didn’t feel comfortable photographing subjects who were suffering.
Instead, de Lory created profound images that could be interpreted many ways. His 1971 photograph on Hon Tre Island, Vietnam, shows a young Vietnamese woman in a traditional white dress as she picks her way through a harsh landscape in front of a steel ship. An Army vehicle is being unloaded from the ship. Some may read the photo, which has a feeling of menace, as a commentary on human fragility during wartime.
“It’s one of the deepest images I’ve ever been able to make,” says de Lory. “I didn’t want to be there, but I was determined to make the best of it.”De Lory has based his career on a philosophy he calls “intuitive anticipation.” This involves sensing that something will happen before it does—and being prepared technically for it when it happens. His 2016 photo “Seagull” exemplifies this. In this photo, where dramatic gray clouds loom over Orleans’ Namskaket River at sunset, de Lory waited for a seagull to fly into the correct spot, about a third of the way in from the left edge of the viewfinder. “The scene is a stage,” he says. “There’s not much value in moving around a lot.”
In 1971, de Lory left the Army and made his way to London, where he worked as a house photographer at a publishing company for eight years. Traveling the world, he photographed everything from Prince Charles on the polo field in Windsor Park to Egypt’s Sinai Desert before moving to Northern California, where he opened a studio.
These days, de Lory divides his time between Orleans and California. In addition to photographing the Cape’s natural beauty and people, he is writing a historical novel based on 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.
De Lory’s photographs, including his spring gallery show “Retrospective: Photographs by Andrew de Lory 1957 -2017” at the Gallery at Orleans Camera, are now available for viewing on YouTube (search “Andrew de Lory retrospective”). For signed, limited edition archival prints, contact de Lory at firstname.lastname@example.org.