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December 3, 2009

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER INTERVIEW: Colin Anderson

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Written by: Lawrence

“Every image has it’s own process. What usually happens whether it be just for myself or a client is we work from a layout, often a rough composite or just a hand drawn one.”

PAST

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: In your early years of high school, were you involved in the yearbook ? What sparked your interest in photography? Do you recommend all the weekend photographers out there to initially stick with the subjects they know and build from there? Do you have any suggestions on how to build that progression? How did you progress to where you are today in photography?

COLIN ANDERSON:No, the school l went to wasn’t much of a yearbook type of place.

Photography appealed to me from an early age like most things to do with the arts.Probably more to the point it was (the arts) the only thing l was good at.

A bit cliché but just do what you love and are passionate about the most.Be obsessed about it.Obsession is good.Obsession breeds perfection,(or as close as one can come to it)

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Do you still have photos taken from the early years when it all started? What were your subjects? Are the pictures online to share with everyone to compare with your work today?

COLIN ANDERSON:Yeah l still have some stuff laying around from when I studied art and design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.Always liked shooting females, surprise, surprise. But nothing is online…and thats probably a good thing.

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM:  What books did you read at the beginning of your photography career that helped you prepare for today? Title of book, author and price of book please…just messing around, the title of the books should be fine thanks to google search. Do you recall any other resources that you referred to heavily to help you prepare for the photography business? We want to know what the must have resources are to fully equip ourselves when and if we ever plan to take that leap of faith.

COLIN ANDERSON:Read everything l could get my hands on and could afford to buy.Nothing really was online back then so l had to get books from specialty stores, and they were so expensive.I used to spend hours and hours in these stores trying to stay out of view of the clerks who would get pissed off if you weren’t buying.

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM:  What was your very first professional photography job? Was this purely out of luck that you were at the right place at the right time? Was there a hidden plan to penetrate the market from within? Would you recommend it to new photographers trying to break into the market and that are having difficulty breaking in? Once you had your first job under your belt was it difficult to get another gig? What did you do to acquire more work besides providing awesome images? Have you ever considered being agency represented? If you are agency represented how did you attract a photography agent?

COLIN ANDERSON:I think my first paid job was photographing the inside of a small Italian Delicatessen. My then girlfriend(and now wife) knew the owners so yeah it just fell into my lap.


The hardest thing about being a photographer is getting clients, it’s a nightmare. Actually everything about clients is a nightmare. Many are “artistically challenged”  and a pain in the ass. But if your lucky enough to get a good one, then they can lift you to new creative heights you would never reach on your own.

My wife has and does handle all aspects to do with getting,keeping and making clients happy. She’s a fantastic diplomat and a great buffer. We really don’t actively seek out clients anymore, a lot is word of mouth. We run a pretty lean operation without a heavy overhead so it’s not like we’re under the gun to finance a huge operation with a ton of staff.

When we were chasing clients we would just cold call, day after day. We would just open the phone book under advertising and design agencies and work from A-Z.After we had hit all of the agencies we would then start all over again and call just everyday businesses that we thought may need photography. We even did weddings, and let me just say, thats a tough gig.  It was a really hard time in the beginning,actually makes me shudder. We also started shooting stock at this time which eventually went on to become a big part of our life. In 2004 we became one of the co founders of www.blendimages.com

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: After your first job, What was the next photography gig you obtained and how did you go about your execution? Did you apply all that you’ve learned in all the books you’ve read ? Did you buy more books or accessed any more resources to help you jump to your next big step in the game of photography? What tools do you recommend that are a must have that helped you get to where you are present day?

COLIN ANDERSON:Think the second job was a small Christmas pamphlet of Santa holding a handful of money. The set up was one that l had learnt from a book, fairly basic stuff just a bank light and fill card.

My big step was buying my first set of flash heads which l set up in my dads garage and just started experimenting day after day and learning first hand how to light.


PRESENT

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What keeps the money rolling? Your brand is possibly a huge factor to your longevity? Am i right?  Do you have any recommendations on brand building for weekend photographers and/or Photographers in general.

COLIN ANDERSON: Commissioned and stock.
Brand Building…not sure if l’m comfortable with that term.I think a photographer starting out should try and define a style and vision with their images and then work on the rest.too many people starting out spend more time on their blogs than their work, it’s a backwards way to do it. It’s like having great packaging with a crappy product inside.


LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM:  What is currently in your photography bag? Please be as detailed as possible for those starting out photographers that want to be just like you. From your photography equipment arsenal, what do you bring most of the time for your commercial shoots?

COLIN ANDERSON:I’ve collected a lot of gear over the years. What l use the most is a Mamiya 645 with a Leaf digital back. Also started shooting with a Canon 5D MK11 the last few months. I use Broncolor gear for lighting, l have a pretty good collection of bank lights, strip lights, beauty dishes, umbrellas, light pannels, grids etc, etc..theres a lot. I’m more of a lighting geek than a camera one.


LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM:  What is your favorite image in your current portfolio and why? How did you approach the execution? Give us a glimpse on how you construct an image from scratch.

COLIN ANDERSON: The ship wrecked series is my favourite from the last few months(supplied with article). I like the feel of it,how it works as a series, the model, the clothes, props, location, lighting. Everything just came together how l envisioned  it.

Every image has it’s own process. What usually happens whether it be just for myself or a client is we work from a layout, often a rough composite or just a hand drawn one. Then once we know what has to be done, props are gathered, models are picked etc. 90% of the times the shot will be a composite one, so models are shot on white seamless in the studio and we then drop them into a background image, or into a layout with type. This is just roughly done to make sure that everything is working together. After shooting the files are prepared for finished art, doing exact clipping paths, colour grading, quality control etc. I do all this myself, this is never sent out.

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM:  Is having your own studio space essential for any commercial photographer.  Do you have a photography studio of your own? If so, what do you look for in a photography studio?

COLIN ANDERSON:No, rent as you need it. Studios are extremely expensive to run, spend your money elsewhere unless you can really justify it.


I work strange hours, usually starting at 3:00 am, so l have always found it convenient (when l could finally afford it) to have a studio at my house. We’ve just moved to a new larger place that has a great space with large windows that surround the shooting area for natural light but can also be quickly blacked out with concealed blinds for flash. We have a room for models to get changed and do make up, and a storage room just for props and extra gear.The kitchen is just off of it too which is great.

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What types of commercial gigs are you currently involved in now and how did they surface? What are your recommendations on how we photographers diversify their product offering from Commercial and stock in today’s marketplace?

COLIN ANDERSON:We have a lot on at the moment, client work has really picked up this year which l never expected in this economy.
Right at the moment we are gearing up for a large fashion shoot with a new client which will be an ongoing project throughout next year. Fashion is something we are moving heavily into.

My main recommendation is do what your best at and perfect it.There’s a ton of competition out there, so you better be good. Know what your doing, a job can easily run into thousands of dollars an hour, so prepare for any disasters that can crop up because everyone will be looking at you to fix it.

FUTURE

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: What are your immediate goals as a photographer and artist?  Are you planning on releasing any how-to books? What are your recommendations to people thinking about starting a photography book?

COLIN ANDERSON: My goals have been the same, keep improving, keep learning, keep being inspired. I haven’t really thought about writting a book, l have a bad enough time writting an email.

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: A lot of professional photographers are starting to run workshops. Will you start offering workshops in the future? I know TIME is not your friend, but there are ways to get around that maybe offering internship opportunities to intern with you for a small fee during one of your paid shoots. Or maybe provide an opportunity to be a spectator for one of your weekend shoots?

COLIN ANDERSON:I’m not really the workshop type of guy, l’ll leave that to the experts like my friend Jack Hollingsworth;)

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM:  I am sure you’ve read many articles discussing how in the future videography and photography will be one? What are your thoughts on that and how will you evolve to the new morphed medium?

COLIN ANDERSON: I think it’s very exciting, we’re still working our way through it and how best to approach it.


LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Ok so thinking about the future and how it is very important in any endeavor especially the photography business. What do you suggest photographers do in the future to solidify their presence in the industry? What will you do to ensure that you remain on top, not taking into account your photography niche?

COLIN ANDERSON: There’s so much imagery out there now, more so than any time in history.As photographers our challenge is to stop the viewers eye by creating something new and exciting that stands out from the clutter. Always strive for this stopping power, you’ll only have a milli second to do it.

LAWRENCEATIENZA.COM: Thank you again for your time and giving back. What would you like to leave for us photographers to think about when moving forward with photography for the future? If you have any words of wisdom will be appreciated.

COLIN ANDERSON: Be obsessed, stay obsessed. Rembember…obsession is good.

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About the Author

Lawrence
Lawrence Atienza is a Jack of all Trades and Master of ALL. Whether it be in the realm of Advertising/Advertising operations with over 10+ years of experience to dabbling in the creative realm of photography and founding/writing for http://www.PhotographySILO.com, Lawrence Atienza gives his all. You can find him on Google+,Twitter and the major social media outlets.




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