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Scays

Interview with Andy Scaysbrook

Interviews

18 March 2015

Posted by Sally Hart

Hi Andy! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?

I am a working photo journalist and photography tutor, with thirty years’ experience working for clients all around the world I am now keen to pass on my knowledge and experience to the younger generation of photographers, so I have started teaching photography courses in Cuba.

QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?

AWow that’s a tough one. I had so many weird moments over the years; this industry is a strange old beast and throws up some of life’s truly surreal situations.
I remember shooting with Pavarotti once in London, which was a mad experience as he had an army of henchmen watching my every move. Just last I week was shooting and interviewing Fidel Castro's son, Alex in Havana, which was a big deal for me as I am a great admirer of his father. Alex is a photographer also and has compiled a photographic book of his father’s life. Those brilliant photographers, Osvaldo and Roberto Salas, Alberto Kordo, Constantino Arias, Raúl Corrales; whose iconic images of the Cuban revolution, were and still are a major influences on my career. Whilst I was there Alex also asked to review my new book as he loved the work. That was weird pretty weird too!

QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?

ACurrently I’m fortunate enough to have a Nikon D4s, but I’ve shot with loads of different cameras over the years and the old adage of the best camera is the one you have with you is very true. I’m not a gear freak by any stretch of the imagination. I shot a book on Cuba two years ago using just a Lumix compact to demonstrate to my students that it’s the person behind the camera that matters. Cameras don't take pictures, people do. At the end of the day a camera is no more than a light tight box it’s the creativity of the photographer that makes the picture.
I tend to shoot everything with one camera one lens. When you’re travelling in foreign countries dragging loads of gear around is no fun. I use the D4s with a 24-70 2.8 Nikon lens as this covers everything I need for the type of images I like to shoot. I also think it’s important for photographers not to get weighed down with the idea that the more kit you have the better picture you get. It’s far more important to train your eye to the type of images you want to shoot and fully explore possibilities of the one lens one camera combination before moving onto other lenses.

QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?

AI often get asked about this. If you want to make a career as a photographer then you will have to have the skin of a Rhino, the passion of Valentino and the eye of Salvador Dali. This will obviously take some time to develop so get out there and shoot as much as you can. It’s also important to focus on a project. When I’m teaching my students I get them to produce photo essays as this a great way to concentrate your ideas and produce a consistent work flow. Photo journalism has taught me so many things and telling stories across a wide range of subjects is essential in the world in which I work. I think the problem for most photographers when they start out is, what are you trying to achieve? What sort of pictures do you want to take and what sort of story do you want to tell? If you can focus on a certain criteria it will greatly enhance your creativity and also make you think much more about your pictures and as you do this it will help you develop your eye and a consistent style will start to develop. Also study the work of great photographers that have gone before. Don McCullin was another big influence on me when I started out as was the god father of Photo journalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Don't be put off by how great their work is they all started somewhere but the one thing they all share is that they gave their hearts and souls to photography and if you are to succeed you will need to do the same.

'This was shot in Trinidad in Cuba. I was travelling on a steam train from Trinidad town into the sugar plantations when the the steam train broke down. As the engineers worked ... Read more

'This was shot in Trinidad in Cuba. I was travelling on a steam train from Trinidad town into the sugar plantations when the the steam train broke down. As the engineers worked to mind the train I went on walkabout and found this gentleman sitting on his porch. It was a very old wooden shack and with just enough room for his merge belongings. It turned out that he was an ex soldier and had fought in the Revolution. In typical Cuban style he welcomed me with open arms and and a hug when I asked him if I could take his picture.' Read less

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Andy

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'This was shot on the same trip as the Tuareg image. We had travelled up from the deserts of Southern Morocco to the highest peaks of the Atlas Mountains. It was very cold, much... Read more

'This was shot on the same trip as the Tuareg image. We had travelled up from the deserts of Southern Morocco to the highest peaks of the Atlas Mountains. It was very cold, much colder than it looks in the picture this was 4000m up in January and it was fresh to say the least. Snow was lying on the ground for most of our treacherous journey up the snowy mountain roads as we somehow managed to dodge the 5 tonne lorries crowded with people hurtling down the tight snowy mountain roads. At the top of the Atlas we discovered this little village with very friendly people who were very poor indeed. These two brothers said very little to us but were happy to have their photograph taken.' Read less

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Andy

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'Cuba, Cigars, what can I say? This character can be found wandering around the streets of Old Havana telling anyone who will listen that he was once on the front of Nat Geo. It... Read more

'Cuba, Cigars, what can I say? This character can be found wandering around the streets of Old Havana telling anyone who will listen that he was once on the front of Nat Geo. Its true, he was and he will produce an old rolled up copy of the magazine to prove it. A wonderful character, like most Cubans friendly, funny and a joy to be with. Its characters like this that made me fall in love with Cuba.' Read less

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Andy

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Shot a s part of a personal project for my new book People. The book was shot in 15 different countries over a two year period. I wanted to show the many different lifestyles of... Read more

Shot a s part of a personal project for my new book People. The book was shot in 15 different countries over a two year period. I wanted to show the many different lifestyles of people around the world. It was a huge project to undertake but was well worth it in the end. The book was recently reviewed by Magnums David Alan Harvey who said of it " Classic editorial photography, superbly executed, very well done" so I guess all the hard work paid of in the end. This picture was shot in England its of my very good friend, Ged Welch, a man of great humour and intelligence and a lover of all things military. Read less

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Andy

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'We are in Cuba again, surprise, surprise. When I'm teaching in Havana the students love to explore the street life and there are always great pictures to be had. When people se... Read more

'We are in Cuba again, surprise, surprise. When I'm teaching in Havana the students love to explore the street life and there are always great pictures to be had. When people see this image the most often asked question is " Did the boy steal some money from the man as he looks like he is running away and the man is counting his money" The truth is no he didn't, for a start that simply wouldn't happen in Cuba. I had been attracted to the car and the man standing next to it when I had noticed the small boy running towards me. I just waited for the right moment to take the picture and it all just fell into to place.' Read less

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Andy

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'The Man Mo Temple in Honk Kong is a Hong Kong's only Man Mo Temple, built in 1847, pays tribute to the God of Literature. I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time working i... Read more

'The Man Mo Temple in Honk Kong is a Hong Kong's only Man Mo Temple, built in 1847, pays tribute to the God of Literature. I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time working in Hong Kong and this temple is a place that I would often stop off at during my treks around the Citys streets. If you arrive at the right time you will see the effect of the sun streaming through the thick incense smoke. A very spiritual place which is also a haven for peace and tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the the financial district of Hong Kong which is also one of my favourite cities in the world. Read less

Camera outline

Andy

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