Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?
I’m a photographer based just outside of Bath, UK. Reading books as a child was all about the pictures. I’m a visual person and love to create. I guess being a visual person photography has become a natural creative outlet for me. I’ve had an interest in photography for as long as I can remember, I don’t recall a specific moment that made me fall in love with taking pictures, it’s just been a life long love that crept up on me.
I did the whole college course thing, read books (looked at the pictures) and tried to improve my photographic knowledge and skills. My first ‘real camera’ was an Olympus OM-1n. Learning on film was slow and expensive.
In 2004, I moved to a digital DSLR with which digital photography brought a whole new learning curve. But the addition of Photoshop and digital processing really opened up a new world of creative options for me.
I think that having children of my own was what really got me hooked. I started to appreciate the significance of capturing moments in time. Kids are one of the most challenging and rewarding subjects to photograph.
As my photography progressed I found myself leaning towards studio shooting as a firm favourite, as I liked being able to experiment and control light. I don’t think that you can beat great natural light but you are at the mercy of mother nature – when you are shooting to a schedule, artificial light is your friend.
Why did you choose to shoot with the Fujifilm X series?
I have always been an SLR shooter, but it got to a point where my gear was impractical to carry everywhere with me. Even carrying a “Lightweight” bag wasn’t really that portable – and after a whole day on the shoulder you certainly felt it.
My journey into the X-System started with the X100 in 2012. This gave me the quality that I wanted in a small & light package. As a result, I started to carry a camera about with me everywhere.
Having used the X100 for a while I found that I was using my SLR system less and less for personal work. And when the X-T1 came out I decided to take the jump – flogged my SLR kit and moved to Fuji. The layout of the controls on the X-T1 is an absolute godsend for me. I love being able to turn a physical dial for all the important stuff and in 2015, I used the X-T1 for a 365 project. I used it with just the XF18-55mm and a Samyang 12mm. This little combo went everywhere with me, everyday for a whole year.
It didn’t let me down, not once.
I don’t consider myself to be a niche photographer. If I see something that interests me, I’ll shoot it. I enjoy portraiture and people do make up the majority of my work. Part of the appeal of the Fuji system was its small size. When photographing people with the X100 or X-T1 it stays out of the way so I can get a better connection with my subject, it’s less imposing.
What is your favourite lens in our range and why?
I guess with portraiture making up the majority of my work, it has to be my most recent addition – The 50-140 f2.8. Yes it is starting to get into heavy gear territory but not so much that I notice it. The quality of this lens is simply stunning, at any focal length and at any aperture.
The above image was shot using the X-T1 and 50-140mm in very low light (using UV) the autofocus had no problems locking on, and the OIS really helped here.
It’s great in the studio too. Having the flexibility of a zoom really helps. If your lucky enough to have the extra space you can make the most of it -from mid telephoto to telephoto gives a great deal of flexibility quickly without breaking your flow.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
I’ll admit that I’m not the most organised photographer. I don’t plan things in any great detail and tend to shoot by feel. When shooting people it’s always tricky to get them to relax in front of the camera, very few people feel completely at ease under the spot light – even models. Communication before the shoot is key – even if you don’t have every last detail planned, share what you do know with your client.
When you are ready to shoot, don’t. Put the camera down and talk to your victim (I mean subject). The usual pleasantries are fine, “How was the traffic” or talk about the weather (I’m allowed, I’m British) anything to break the ice and try to build rapport.
Once I’m all set up a trick I often use is to ask my subject to keep looking in my general direction and don’t worry about me. I tell a little white lie and say that I’m just testing my light / exposure to make sure I get everything set up correctly. I know my gear and through experience I know my settings are fine. The thing is that the subject doesn’t think that the photos will be used. I find quite often these first few frames can be the most natural.
The image above was taken with a beauty dish against a white wall, using the “Don’t mind me I’m just mucking about technique”
Talking of mucking about, relax and enjoy yourself. Everyone likes to have fun and a bit of silliness now and again makes great images.
What’s next for you?
The last 12 months or so have been amazing for me. I’ve met so many great new people through photography. I’ll keep on getting out and about, planning shoots and producing more themed work. The summer will soon be here and I’m hoping to be ready for it. I’m always on the lookout for a great location that can be used to shoot in / on / over / under. I have a couple of things in the pipeline that are still just concepts at present but will develop over the next few months – I just need to find the time somewhere !
To see more of Andy’s work, please visit his website and social channels.