17 March 2009

Featured 'tog Tuesday - Andy McDonald

This week's featured 'tog is Andy McDonald, a professional photographer just starting out in the world of professional photography with his wife Erika.

Firstly, a bit about Andy....
My first camera was bought as a present by my parents & was a Russian manual 35mm camera called a Zenith E. My first Canon camera was an Ae1 which I still have in the loft & this really allowed me to work semi automatically Av etc & get prints back from the lab which were of a reasonable quality. Although my last film body was an EOS 1N I really believe that my photography began to improve far quicker when I purchased my first digital body which was a 20d, this allowed me to try things out & understand the impact, I have learnt more in the last 5 years than I did in the previous 20…

Erika and I love photography and “McDonald Photography” is our first step towards creating a successful business which supports our goals to do something we both love for a living. The challenge of creating images that your clients adore up against tight timescales, with what can be, to the un trained I everyday surroundings really keeps me on my toes, but without Erika having a guiding hand in to the styling and final presentation of our work Im sure we’d be less successful than we are today, taking the image is just a part of the process, I know great photographers who cannot “sell” their work at the right price and sustain a business simply because they haven’t got an end game, their images are sat on a HDD rather than providing entertainment.

First up and the only one we ask to everyone:
BLAB: What colour would your Ferrari be?

Well, it would have to be Nero with cream leather. In fact any other colour than red, I know this is against all the rules, but I don’t know cars just look great in black….

BLAB: What's your best bit of advice for a new photographer?

I think that far to much energy is given to have faster newer equipment, is this really what photography was about for you as a youngster? i would guess not. So to answer your question I would have to say

1/ Get a camera that has manual controls and learn how it operates. Understand how iso, shutter speed and aperture work together to create magic.

2/ No matter what lens you have, dont let it restrict your imagination, far to often i hear people saying i need a wide angle lens to take landscapes or you need an 85mm 1.x to take a portrait, i say rubbish. Your eye sees the image. No matter what lens or camera you have go take some pictures and enjoy them, in time you will know the improvements to be gained from specialist lenses and you can then go and buy with confidence.

3/ Find your self a forum, online or face to face where you can talk & mix with other photographers, its a great way to learn and ask questions you also get to benchmark yourself you may well be surprised.

4/ I think one of the hardest things to do not only as a beginner is decide what to shoot, so it’s a good idea to give yourself a brief, for example this could be a colour, a location, like a local landmark & take 10 images all different, this will get you thinking beyond the obvious and will stretch you. Try it its not easy.

5/ Although I use Lightroom and Ps to create a look, I have always tried to get it right in the camera, I think its best practice to do this and enhance with software, not rely on it to save you bacon… well not all the time ;-)

5/ Don’t give up, good luck.

BLAB: If you had been paid ten thousand pounds for being our 'Tuesday
tog', what photo equipment would you spend it on?

Ok 10K that sounded a lot, but its not really when you start to think about it. I think I’d really like some broncolor portable lighting. I’d like some tungsten lighting. A 50mm 1.2 and a 35mm 1.4 a new Billingham bag please and a new Mac book pro.

BLAB: Natural light or flash and why?

Either, I’m happy working with both, I don’t think you can beat the excitement of the start & end of the day, maybe its because you have tight timelines to work too and the light is never the same twice. I’m currently loving working with my speed lights as I can be a creative as I like, Manchester is a great inspiration for me at the moment, the back drops are fabulous, one minute you’re shooting a derelict area the next a fabulous multi story Hilton hotel…so I think that I’ve got the best of both worlds and yes I’m just beginning to understand how fantastic finding that balance could be.

And now for some images:
A straight from camera shot as I always try to get it right in-camera:

The same shot but this time after the only editing that was done. I really try and stay away from Photoshop if possible and currently do all my editing in LightRoom 2.

A shot from a quite recent shoot with a local model

Another recent shot - I thought it best to show recent stuff rather than the selected best!

BLAB: Thanks for taking the time to come in and answer our questions Andy. Since you're quite new to this professional game (although your images and website show quite a talent), if possible we'd like to come back to you in the future and see how you're getting on? It'll be interesting to see how you and your business have progressed especially in these difficult financial times. Best of luck for the future.

If you'd like to be one of our featured 'togs, drop us a line in the comments and we'll be in touch. 


No comments: