Andy is a British photographer based in the North West. He completed his undergraduate degree through Lancaster University at Blackpool University Centre. His main photographic interest explores natural and man-made environments, and the interaction between the two with concerns over how we use the landscape and the social and political issues surrounding it. Often exploring change and human impact. I am drawn to ordinary places, seeking to find interest in everyday spaces.. Within that, he seeks out themes that explore how humans interact with their surroundings and how modern infrastructure and ideology coexists with the natural world.
Andy's approach sees him working on long form, research based projects. He is currently working as a freelance photographer, splitting his time between commissioned work and developing long term bodies of work.
Your work varies between black & white and color, what conscious choices do you find yourself making at the start of a new project? And what made you decide to shoot in black and white for your series Land - Sea?
I wouldn’t say I make many conscious choices at the start of a project; those that I do make are most probably more technical choices, like what camera or what lens, etc. I remember I once decided to shoot a whole project on Polaroid because I liked the idea, only to decide I hated it and ended up reshooting the whole thing. In the beginning though, I do try to have a flexible approach and explore different options, as I find projects tend to evolve while you research and evaluate what you are shooting. Each project requires something different, for example when I shot my series On the Fringe when I was in Benidorm, but only for a short period of time, so my usual process had to change dramatically. Traditionally I like to make lots of visits, over long periods, and really get a feel for a place and subject. However, due to time constraints, this wasn’t possible here, so I had to do all my research beforehand. Using a combination of Google maps and street view, I was able to identify spots I wanted to explore. Whereas for Land – Sea it was a more organic process, almost accidental in fact. I was literally just taking my dog for his walks on the promenade and I would take my camera and shoot, with no real purpose. It wasn’t until after a couple of months that I started to notice what I had mindlessly done, which was when I started to take it more seriously.
Because it started so randomly, black & white happened to be what I was shooting at the time. I’d been playing around with different black & white film and developer combinations that I hadn’t tried before, so in the beginning it was an unconscious decision. But once I realised what I had started, I debated using colour and even tried a couple of test rolls, but it didn’t elicit the same reaction. It started to feel like a series of postcard images and being a tourist town, I felt there were already plenty of those on offer. Black and white gave it that sense of separation, and lent itself better to the architecture; with the history and mythology of the coast, I felt it was more subtle and befitting with the project.
What drew you to Blackpool's coastline and the work you have created here?
I was born and raised in Blackpool and have lived here my entire life. I’ve spent lots of time over the years walking along the promenade and from looking through shots I had already taken, I started to think about the significant changes that I had experienced during my lifetime. This made me think about how some sections of the sea wall were completely different to what I remembered from my childhood. Over the last 20 years, there has been constant construction to rebuild the sections of sea defense that were most in need. What I found particularly interesting was the varied design which gives each section its own personality, with some parts being quite old and traditional and others being ultra modern. In addition, in order to engage the public, there are also large art installations positioned along the coastline; including the large glitter ball and the high tide organ, which produces sounds from wave energy. It is a significant piece of civil engineering, which has a long history.
Your list of publications is quite extensive, have you found this particularly beneficial to the exposure of your work and how do you usually come about these features?
I always feel extremely fortunate and humbled to have someone publish my work. It can really help your mindset to know that someone has an interest in the work you produce. Plus your work gets seen by a much wider audience which is very beneficial. However, the biggest benefit I get from being published is that it helps you get into a dialogue with photographers, curators, etc. and this can lead to valuable, critical feedback and support.
To be completely honest, I come across these features from being proactive with social media and networking, which includes following other photographers. Also, I’m consistently looking up or reading about photography, from blogs to journals to newspaper articles, I spend a little time every day catching up on what’s new in the photography world, which keeps me abreast of upcoming events and exhibitions.
As someone who has had a lot of exposure, is there any advice you could give to inspiring photographers for getting their work seen?
I guess the best advice I could give to aspiring photographers is to set plenty of time aside for submitting your work, as it can be time consuming to find the right places and meet the varying requirements. Making sure your images are the right size, specification and are labelled correctly; also the level of writing that can be involved, from writing the initial email to answering questions and additional statements about your work. Make sure you are prepared to discuss your work, outside of your artist statement. Finally, it is very important to research the places you want to submit to, you should be looking for similar themes and styles and take time to look at the previous work they have published or exhibited.