Twice the expert vote winner on Photocrowd (Crowds and Put in their place), Andy Ferrington is a brilliant and fascinating travel photographer, and today we are excited to publish our interview with him. Enjoy:
How did you get into photography?
I fell in love with the world of photography 12 years ago and set out on a journey of discovering the world through the lens of a camera. Photography is something I've loved exploring since I got my first film SLR from my Dad aged 16. One of my jobs used to be running a photography laboratory as well as selling cameras and kit during the time of the digital revolution.
I've loved to travel since I turned 16, and have been lucky enough to have undertaken several incredible trips and expeditions over the past years, always accompanied with a camera. I now fly for the airlines, so travelling is now my job and it brings amazing benefits - I've travelled all over the world.
Among my favourite subjects at college was Art and Graphic Design. I qualified with an AVCE in Art and Design and spent many hours making pin-hole cameras from beer cans and developing my own black and white prints in the dark room at school.
How often and when do you take photographs?
If I said “everyday” I don’t think I would be too far off! I am toying with the idea of starting a blog on my website: “A Photo a Day”. I think it will be a serious challenge to avoid repetition, but it could make for a fantastic album in 365 days time!
From personal experience over the years I learned to follow one very simple rule: “keep the camera with you”. This is so obvious, but actually very hard to do. For me personally the secret was having the right bag. I always used to use big bags and fill it with kit - the perfect excuse to leave it behind when it becomes “too heavy”. Now I use a very simple Lowepro camera holder and try to take it everywhere.
What is your technical set-up?
Originally a Canon man, I spent several years shooting 35mm film (colour C41, E6 slide, black and white, and cross-processing slide) with a number of Canon film SLRs. One of my early cameras became very well travelled until a very unfortunate night on a bus in Bolivia. That night it miraculously disappeared as we were surrounded by a road block of drunken Bolivian miners throwing TNT Dynamite and waving machetes… The only positive was that I never carry my film with the camera so only a few shots were actually lost. The famous lost shots...
Nowadays I shoot with my Nikon D700 and D200, accompanied with Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 landscape lens (which I actually sold just last week!), Nikon 24-120mm f4 VR (my secret weapon!), Nikon 80-400mm f4.5 VR and my favourite prime - the Nikon 50mm f1.8. I also have a brand new toy which I cannot wait to try out - the amazing Nikon 105mm micro f2.8!
Also in the bag are a few tripods/monopods, Nikon SB-600 speed light, Nissin Flash Unit, Lee soft and hard grad filters, Lee Big Stopper, circular polarisers, wireless triggers, macro extension tubes, MD100 Grip - all topped off with the mighty Macbook Pro for image processing .
I shoot RAW on the Nikon and use Adobe Lightroom 4 for my work flow. My editing nowadays is only really RAW processing and tweaking exposures and contrasts. I very rarely use Photoshop now, unless it is for larger work jobs - batch processing and the occasional HDR or panoramic photo merge.
I still experiment with film and slide to C41 cross processing using my grandad’s Mamiya NC-1000s manual SLR and the beautiful classic Olympus OM10 (my dad got me hooked on it 15 years ago). I've got to be honest, it's still so much more enjoyable than digital!
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I find that this comes down to three very key areas. The first (and most important) is simply using the camera as much as you can. Getting so used to your camera that you can use it with your eyes closed.
Secondly, developing a trusted and tailored work flow for your images. This took me years, but now I am pretty happy with it. I find I can easily revisit images that I initially disregarded and find new elements in them that are, in fact, website- and sales-worthy. This is a great buzz! The magic of RAW is that everything is non-destructive, and this to me has been the single biggest leap in photography in my era.
And lastly, exposure, feedback and reviews. The best of these is surely competitions, and as a result I am writing this for Photocrowd! Competitions with crowd voting are truly priceless, as not only do you gain exposure for your images, but you gain valuable feedback as to which ones are popular. I use this as feedback for my portfolio, and tweak my galleries as I learn which images are working best.
Whose work has influenced you most?
I’m sure it would be a very common answer to say National Geographic magazine, but I know that it's been an inspiration to generations of photographers dreaming to one day feature inside its yellow cover!
I love the YellowKorner art galleries and all of the big competitions (WPOTY, RPS, etc.). All of these are a huge buzz of inspiration and ambition for me. I don’t have a favourite photographer, but I do have heaps of favourite images from a range of photographers. My greatest influences recently have been Photocrowd competitions and Nat Geo ‘Your Shot’ assignments. Plus… they are hugely addictive!
Among your works, which one is your favourite? Why?
Wow, this is easily the hardest question here. But if I was told to choose one…
My personal favourite is from a set of photos from my incredible trip around Burma (Myanmar). This beautiful young Pa-O tribal girl was the eldest daughter of the family who sheltered us for the night as we trekked from Kalaw to Inle Lake. She was so shy, hiding in the kitchen. Until we were ready to leave, and then she was all of a sudden come over by curiosity. She started peering around the door, and was soon frozen in stare at the camera, and then was fascinated by the results! This photo makes me so happy every time I see it - the light from the door and the golden glow of an open fire to the side with the colour of her traditional Pa-O head-dress. One of my all-time favourites.
What do you get out of being a photographer?
Freedom. Creativity. Escapism. De-stress. Passion. Addiction. Connectivity with the environment and glimpses of other people’s worlds… Shall I go on?!
Enter our photo contests to win great prizes.
Register on Photocrowd for more great content.