This is the first in a new series of columns I aim to produce and share, where I ask my fellow photographers their thoughts, insights and advice on the craft.
First up is my mate Andy from Andrew McIntosh Photography. Andy also hails from the Illawarra and is a fellow Sony shooter #teamsony.
I first met him out on a sunset shoot at the old Primbee jetty overlooking Lake Illawarra and instantly got a friendly, laid back vibe from him - not always a common trait when two photographers meet (compete?) on location. We can be a fiercely territorial bunch at times.
I approached Andy for this interview segment, and he kindly volunteered to be the first guinea pig for the series. And so without further ado, let's get started.
MG: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your photography?
AM: I'm a 27 year old bearded bloke living on the outskirts of Wollongong. I'm an office worker on the 9 to 5 grind, utilising free time as best I can to explore and capture. I'm enjoying the ride photography is taking me on - it's both challenging and rewarding. While I've never really considered photography a full-time endeavour, it is still a very passionate hobby, albeit a very expensive one!
MG: What are your favourite places/styles to shoot?
AM: I have a strong focus on landscape photography, but also enjoy wildlife and abstract. The local haunts provide such a mix of places to shoot, from the Breakwater Lighthouse nestled in Belmore Basin, to the abandoned railway tunnel at Helensburgh and everything in between. Landscape photography offers so much - there are so many variables to experiment with. In general, I just love nature. Simple and pure.
MG: If you were travelling to a new location and you could only take one lens, which one?
AM: I'd have to opt for a 16-35mm lens. Personally, this is my most used focal length, not only can you get the most out out of a scene at 16mm-24mm, you can also zoom out to 35mm for general photographic purposes and also multi-stitched panoramas. The possibilities are endless.
MG: What's one mistake you made early on you wish you realised sooner?
AM: The biggest mistake early on was probably more of a mental one. We often get caught up comparing ourselves to others, which I guess may be impossible to avoid early on as everyone draws their inspiration from something or someone. I would say I was too focused on making my photos look like someone else's without focusing on developing my own style. I sort of wish I had this sorted sooner rather then later. I hope to think I've got myself past that stage now, haha.
MG: What advice would you give a new aspiring landscape photographer who's just upgraded from a smartphone to a dedicated camera?
AM: Just get out there and shoot. You can read as many tutorials and watch as many videos as you like, which is great, but photography requires the ol' hands on approach. The only way to really train yourself is by trial and error. Shoot first, ask questions later! Never be afraid to fail, it's the only way we can learn.
Also, collaborate and mix with like-minded people, I find this to be extremely useful and you can end up meeting some great people along the way. Reading through photography magazines provides a lot of useful tips as well. Australia boasts some pretty high profile photographers and they are all willing to share their thoughts.
MG: What are your future photography/travel plans?
AM: My girlfriend and I are currently in debate about this. We are thinking either Canada or Scandinavia (preferably Norway) for a campervan road trip - the only way to truly travel! Both areas offer infinite possibilities, it's going to be hard to make a decision.
The colder climate draws me as well - I definitely prefer autumn and winter. Scientifically, it provides great conditions. With less haze and moisture in the air during the cooler months, it brings so much extra clarity to photos, I love it. We've been to New Zealand, and that was amazing, so we know what to expect, sort of.
MG: Lastly, what's your favourite book?
AM: I read a lot actually - I'm currently reading the The Fellowship of the Ring. However, a favourite book, hmmm. I'd have to say 'Two Brothers' by Ben Elton. It's about brothers who grow up during the Nazi rise to power in Germany. One of the boys is actually an adopted Aryan who lives with his Jewish family. It provides powerful lessons on nature vs nurture and how changing political landscapes can alter the very way someone thinks. Definitely recommend it.
I've gone out shooting with Andy a few times now, and can say with confidence he's not just a talented fellow local landscape photographer, but an all-round great bloke too. If you haven't gone searching to check out his work already, do yourself a favour and head on over to his Website, Instagram or Facebook.