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.