We’re often asked about Andy’s background and past experience. In this blog post he reveals all, well almost, and discusses his 30 year love affair with photography. Hopefully by the end of of this post you’ll understand why he does what he does!
The year is 1986 and I’m 12 years old. Now 6 is getting mashed up in my Sony Walkman, I’m proudly sporting a pink Joe Bloggs T-shirt, black Pepe jeans and yellow neon socks, and I’m looking forward to watching Top Gun on my mates betamax.
I was doing “ok” at the academic stuff but my true passion lay with the visual arts, being a prolific drawer and painter of almost anything, especially fast cars and girls at this age. Although I could knock out a pretty mean sketch of a Lamborghini Countach or Linda Lusardi, sadly my own expectations were already far exceeding my fairly average abilities.
It was around this time that a wonderful neighbour introduced me to the world of photography, kindly lending me one of his many shiny SLR’s to play with. As a typically impatient and lazy youth the almost instant nature of photography, compared with laborious and time consuming task of sketching on paper, was a real revelation for me. Everything about the photographic process fascinated me. From the precision and beautiful engineering of the cameras through to the pure wonder and voodoo like magic of darkroom printing; my life long love affair with photography had began.
Skip forward 10 years to 1996 and now I’m the one getting mashed, mainly on cheap ale in some grungy student bar. After somehow graduating with a decent photography degree I soon moved to London, with my then girlfriend and future wife Debbie, our whole worldly processions in the back of my beloved Renault 5.
Considering my youthful arrogance and professional naivety I soon landed my first job with Mac User magazine, not as the photographer, as ridiculously I couldn’t afford a decent camera, but as the set designer for a job featuring Peter Firkin’s Clangers (see above). Although I didn’t even know how to create an invoice for my time, the thrill of seeing my work in commercial print was truly addictive.
In the 10 years that I lived, loved, partied and worked in London I was fortunate enough to see my creations hanging in trendy galleries alongside proper artists like Tracey Emin, Gavin Turk and even David Bowie, printed on magazines, book jackets and CD covers, stretching enormous 48 sheet billboards and illuminated on bus stops for big brands like ITV, Toblerone and Cobra beer (see gallery below). I was also fortunate enough to meet, work and get very very drunk with some incredible talent, although I rarely appreciated it at the time.
After cutting my teeth in the big smoke, it was a series of life changing events, mainly getting married and the arrival of our son, that first made us question our less than family friendly lifestyle. We decided to move back to Northamptonshire in 2006, the county in which we had both grown up and indeed met (in the Sixth form common room).
For the first few years I continued to shoot commercial photography, mainly for small local companies, although found the majority of commissions pretty uninspiring compared to what I’d enjoyed previously. It was the arrival of our gorgeous daughter, combined with the mellowing effect of age, that first helped me appreciate life from a new perspective and see the opportunities that this presented. Coincidently, all this came at a time when a close friend, and new dad himself, was gingerly asking if I’d photograph their 6 month old, in exchange for a few beers of course. At first I was unsure, I’d always loved capturing our own children but never contemplated doing it professionally. However after extensive research I gave it a go and discovered that I loved every second, but most surprisingly… so did everyone else!
I’d found my new passion, obsession and challenge, I was going to be a world class children’s portrait photographer (uncompromising quality and ambition has never left me). Although always steering clear of portraiture in the past, I was more of a hide behind the big camera type photographer, I’d always admired the works of incredible portrait photographers like Richard Avedon and David Bailey. These photographers more than most seemed to dig deep beneath the skin revealing real character, personality and emotion. The work of these geniuses plus a few others gave me the inspiration to develop my own unique style and approach. I had a lot to learn, certainly in learning how to run a business, but I loved every single second… and still do to this day!
And that’s it really, the rest of my story kind of tells itself. I continue to develop and mature as a portrait artist but fundamentally I’m still as passionate about photography as that 12 year old boy… although considerably more patient and with ‘slightly’ better dress sense!