Andy LaBrada

Before Andy LaBrada graduated from the film program in 2000, his two student films, God and The Machine I and II, were featured in the New York International Film Festival and in the Brouhaha Film Festival in Orlando. 

The films, LaBrada said, are about the human struggle.

Fourteen years later, LaBrada is devoting more of his time to still photography, but his new project has a similar style, theme and subject to his student films.  His new book, The Miamians, is a collection of photographs – he calls it a social documentary – of the diverse people of Miami going about in their day-to-day lives.

“In photography, the story is also key in the framing of that scene. The one main difference of photography is that the viewer has time to focus on one image,” LaBrada said.  “This is why everything in the frame counts.  Another important element of photography is the personal endeavor of the camera, what is in front of me, and my perception of the scene.”

One photograph in The Miamians, for example, shows a man walking alone on a crowded Lincoln Road past the eerily illuminated marquee of the Colony Theatre.  A second shows children playing in a park during a sun shower.

The Coral Gables Museum recently featured the photography from the book, which, Labrada said, would be released during the holidays or early next year.

The 165-page book project was sponsored by the camera company Leica, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Some examples of his photography and how he used the Leica X Vario camera can be seen on Leica's Blog and Leica Blog 2                  

After graduating from the University of Miami, LaBrada started a film alumni-networking group in Los Angeles that held events around popular spots in Hollywood.  Later, he returned to Miami and directed a music video, worked on films for local organizations, and began photographing the Everglades.

LaBrada said the transition from filmmaking to photography was a smooth process because he translated his filmmaking principles into his photography.

LaBrada had already been working on a photography project in Miami when Leica approached him.  But, he said, the Leica equipment made a big difference in his work.

“Leica Camera is an experience, tradition, and a legacy much like the University of Miami,” LaBrada said.  “It enabled me to capture my vision because of the balance of the camera, its physical size, and the image quality.  It feels like a natural extension of my eye.”

While working on The Miamians, LaBrada also captured video segments with his Leica camera. The result, “100 Days with Leica,” can be seen on Vimeo and the YouTube links YouTube1, YouTube2, and YouTube3

Aside from the Leica project, LaBrada said he is also reading scripts and novels for a potential feature film. 

“I am always looking for interesting projects,” he said.

LaBrada is now considering taking his Leica photo-essay project to his childhood home of Brooklyn.  

 “The beauty of New York is that it is a constantly changing town,” LaBrada said.  “However, there are elements that never change. That is what I want to capture.”  

Written by Andrea Fernandez-Bravo, Broadcast Journalism major