54/365 “my creative process”
like many of you, i love following tons of photographers. sometimes, i even get to start a friendship with photographers whose work i love to follow which is extremely awesome! so i decided to interview a few of these amazing people to slightly crack their minds open and peek inside their creative madness.
for my first interview i, of course, had to go bother the incredibly funny and extremely talented handy andy pandy of handy andy pandy photography. his work is very versatile and uses both natural light or flash, and at times can be emotionally charged or extremely comical. he is also nearing the end to an incredible 365 project!
let’s get some background….where are you from? what made you go into photography?
Melbourne, Australia 🙂 I used to have absolutely NO interest in photography – I never even took snaps on my mobile phone. I didn’t know the first thing about cameras. Then in 2011, I was staying with my parents and I was laying outside in the backyard, staring up at the cloudy sky. I felt totally at peace, taking in the beauty of the world around me, and I had a thought, “I wish there was some way to capture this moment and keep it.” A minute or so later I realized, “Wow, you dolt, there’s a little thing called a camera.”
So I went inside and borrowed my father’s old Minolta camera and took some photos of the sky, of the flowers in the garden, of the dog, the grass, the trees. Those photos were absolutely horrible but I was instantly hooked by the fact I could press a button and an image would appear right there on the screen – magic! A few weeks later I bought my own camera and built up a decent lens & flash collection over time and later got stuck into Photoshop too 🙂
let’s talk photogeek shop… what camera do you use and what is your go to lens(or lenses)?
I’m a huge proponent of “the camera doesn’t matter”, because it really doesn’t. It’s what you do with it that counts 🙂 Let me just get down from my soapbox and answer the question: I’ve got a Nikon D7000 and a few different lenses. I like using my super-wide 12mm lens for humorous photos because it distorts and stretches people’s features in a funny way! But most of the time I stick to my nice, cheap, reliable 50mm lens. I know a lot of photographers (eg Brooke Shaden) only use a 50mm lens because it always gets the job done.
328/365 “I Like Pushing Buttons”
what equipment can you NOT live without. what do you think was the best investment you made in your photography business?
I absolutely could not live without my tripod, my flashes and my remote trigger! I need the tripod because 99% of my photos are actually multiple photos combined in Photoshop, and if the camera moves between photos it’s just more work for me later. I use the flashes in most of my photos because I love playing around
with different lighting styles. And I couldn’t go without my remote trigger because I usually shoot myself and don’t have anyone to help me take the photo.
if money was no object what would be the next thing you purchased?
If I had infinite money… I’d actually upgrade my computer. The poor thing is quite a few years old and while it’s pretty beefy in terms of RAM and CPU and all that, a couple of parts are starting to die so my computer crashes about once or twice a day 🙁
favorite piece of magic in photoshop?
Ahh, don’t ask me which part of Photoshop I love most! I love it all. If I have to pick one feature… Since just about every one of my photos is a composite of multiple photos, I’d be screwed without: layer masks.
we have got to talk inspiration and creativity! what are your muses/inspiration for your work and ideas?
I don’t really have any particular inspiration or muses. Ideas for my photos come from absolutely every place you could possibly imagine – music, the world around me, jokes, my own brain, objects in my house, things I see in movies, people on the street, etc. I use a digital notebook (Evernote) and write down every idea that comes into my mind – even if it’s just a half-formed idea that I can later flesh out into an actual photo.
do you ever hit creative blocks? what do you do to help break through and get back into crazy inspired create mode?
Of course, everybody does. It’s annoying sometimes, especially with a daily deadline. Having that notebook filled with ideas is my favorite way to get through creative blocks. I’ve got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of ideas in there so if I’m really struggling I’ll read through it and I’m bound to find something interesting. Failing that, I’ll walk around my apartment and pick up random objects and look at them, mulling over ideas in my head until something jumps out at me.
325/365 “I Fear I Am Ill Equipped To Deal With This” 185/365 “Coming Undone”
FAN QUESTION OF THE DAY: One of my favorite quotes I recently read was “don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” With that being said can you share some of the things from behind the scenes that may have not gone your way? Another question i have is do you ever have any bad days or want to give up because you compared yourself to someone else? (submitted by robin janksy)
Things don’t go my way quite often, lol. A few times I’ve gotten halfway through a photo and it’s just not looking that fab, and I keep trying to somehow save it, but it’s not really happening. If I have time I’ll redo it (or do something different) but I don’t always have time. I guess I’m in a somewhat unusual position because I’m doing a photo every single day, so if I don’t have much time that day and the photo turns out less-than-brilliant… I just have to upload it anyway. I’ve got a lot of really sh**ty photos on the net for the world to see, so I’m definitely not showing a highlight reel! 🙂 My 365 project is pretty “bare-bones”, but I like it that way.
do you ever feel like quitting?(you better not) and what do you do when that thought hits you?
No. I haven’t had that thought for many many months. Some days I feel slack and just do a quick (1 hour) photo just so I have something to upload, but photography is absolutely a daily habit for me now and I can’t imagine not doing it. Before my 365 project I almost quit (I stopped shooting for quite a few months and thought about selling my camera). I motivated myself by watching a few photography videos on Phlearn.com and by practicing a few Photoshop tutorials, and then by throwing myself into the 365 Project. If you need motivation to keep up with photography, a 365 or a 52-week project is a great way to do it 🙂
how much do you emotions or life events effect your work and style?
A lot. Because I’m uploading a photo every single day, I can’t just say, “I’m having a terrible day today, so I won’t do a photo today.” Quite a few photos have been darker/sadder because the day wasn’t going so well. A few times I’ve been sick (had food poisoning once, maybe twice, lol) and tried to channel the theme of illness/sadness into the photo 🙂
249/365 “Bust My Own Chops”
if you could go back and give the ‘beginner you’ advice what would it be?
“Stop aiming for bloody perfection!” Seriously, when I first started the 365 I was so terrified of making a mistake, doing a bad photo, uploading something people didn’t like, etc. That fear really crippled me and for a while I was just sticking to “safe” photos, things I knew I could do without stuffing them up. I think a LOT of photographers can relate to that. Hell, a lot of people outside of photography can relate to having a perfectionist mindset. But if you do a photo a day for a year (without skipping a day – this part is crucial) eventually you’ll upload a couple of crappy photo – it’s unavoidable. You learn to get over the fear of failure because you’ve failed quite a few times and the world kept on turning, everything was ok. I wish I could go back and tell the “beginner me” not to be so scared of mucking up.
what draws you to the type of work you are creating? what themes do you like to explore and why?
I really love a challenge and I love learning and growing, so I think I’m drawn to photos which are technically-challenging to create. I absolutely love when I start a photo not being 100% sure I’ll be able to pull it off. As for the themes I like, I love a wide variety of things. Sometimes it’s humor/silliness, other times it’s something more serious like pain/sadness/depression. I don’t usually think of the theme first though – usually the photo idea precedes the theme (there are a few exceptions).
141/365 “Into Another Dimension”
your editing is amazing! and i’m in awe when i see your work. where have you learned this awesomeness? is it a piece of cake or do you find you still struggle with some editing? what has been your best way of learning to do this amazing magic?!
Thankye 🙂 It’s easier these days, but there’s still a few times where I think, “How on Earth am I going to do the photo I have in my head?” When I first started though, every single day was like that, it really was a struggle.
Most of what I’ve learned has come from Phlearn.com and a few Youtube tutorials. But more than anything, experimenting and playing around has really helped me learn the ins and outs of Photoshop. I’m not afraid to fail, which makes it really easy to just try different things and see what happens. One of the tried-and-true ways to get decent at something is to just put in the hours and practice practice practice.
what is the biggest challenge you face and how do you work to overcome it?
Daily motivation. I already have a lot of saved photo ideas in my notebook so the creativity side of things isn’t a struggle. But it’s sometimes a struggle to feel motivated to do a photo that day, especially if I’m tired/don’t have much time/am feeling lazy. The only way I know how to overcome it is to just do it, even if I don’t feel like it. Sometimes I’ll be whining out loud, saying to my girlfriend “I really don’t want to do a photo today!!!” as I’m getting out my tripod and setting up my camera. I’ll still be complaining as I’m taking the photo, still be complaining as I’m photoshopping it, still be complaining as I’m uploading it. And then suddenly I realize the photo is done just because I ignored my own complaining and did the photo even though I didn’t want to 🙂 Maybe there isn’t some magic fix other than to just do it.
206/365 “Overcast But I’ll Fix It In Photoshop”
You are days away from the finale to your 365 project!!! so amazed and in awe by that! so let’s talk about this project!
first off, how do you overcome the challenge of doing a photo everyday? do you shoot and edit each day? or do you shoot it all on a weekend and edit through the week? how do you balance your life with this project?
The 365 project isn’t too hard to keep up these days, since it’s become a habit. Yeah I do the entire thing each day – think of an idea, plan out the concept, shoot all the pieces and put them all together in Photoshop. I find it way more fun to do it every single day rather than try and do multiple photos over the weekend. Plus doing it this way means each photo is extremely tied in to how I feel on that day, and serves almost like a diary. It feels more “real” and raw, at least to me.
did you come up with themes to use or just wing it? did you have a list of themes or ideas in case you needed a inspiration push?
In a way, this sort of IS my life. Most of the day I’m thinking of a concept or planning it out in my head – the 365 is always with me, it’s definitely a part of me now. That said, I definitely do have plenty of time spare to spend with my girlfriend and work full time and go out. I certainly don’t feel suffocated by the 365 and I’m certainly not going to complain about it. I love it 🙂
what are your thoughts on the 365 project now that you are nearing to an end? are you happy you did it? would you do it again? are you wondering what you will do afterwards? do you look towards the end like a prisoner looking at his upcoming freedom or like an obsessed viewer watching a favorite tv show excited for the conclusion but sad it will be over.
Don’t remind me that my 365 is coming to a close! That thought is more than a little scary, I really think I’ll grieve for a few days once it’s over. Starting this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve never committed to something DAILY for an entire year without missing a SINGLE day. It blows my mind that I have that kind of dedication inside me (I used to struggle with discipline). This project has revitalized my love for photography. I’ve learned SO MUCH photoshop I feel like I’ve crammed years and years worth of learning/experimenting into just 1 year.
288/365 “My Girlfriend Is A Fairy”
any advice to a photographer wanting to start a 365 project?
If somebody’s thinking of starting a 365 project but are scared of committing to it, my advice is to just say, “F*ck it” and try it. Worst thing that happens is you only stick it out for a few weeks/months, and then at least you’ve got lots of photos you might not have otherwise taken – huge success!!! Getting 1/10th of the way through a 365 project is still worthy of celebration 🙂 I was trying to work up the courage for about 3 weeks before I started mine – I really really really really didn’t think I was “ready”. One day I watched a Phlearn video about how a 365 can help you become a better photographer and I thought, “You know what? Today’s Day 1.” I wasn’t even remotely ready, my photoshop skill was lacking and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to come up with one photo idea, let alone 365.
But I learned as I went along. Sometimes I stumbled, sometimes I failed, but I always got back up and kept on trying. Very few people are ever truly “ready” to take on challenges in life. Successful people do things before they feel ready. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” There’s no better time than right now, right this very second. Stop reading this interview and make today Day 1 and just see what happens, with no expectations. You’ll probably end up somewhere so amazing you never could have dreamt it. You’ll never know unless you try.
let’s talk about your work… it has a great variation and can be light or dark. is there a particular theme you enjoy shooting the most? or do you like shooting lighter mood photos over dark brooding ones?
I’m a pretty silly guy so I really really LOVE doing the lighter photos. Anything that makes me laugh is my favorite subject for a photo. I do enjoy the darker ones though, so I’ll probably keep doing both 🙂
i love that i can find humor in your work, it makes me smile everyday seeing your pictures. is your art imitating life or is it a character you love to play?
Art imitating life. I’m probably a lot sillier in real life and my photos are just a small window into that. I tell a LOT of bad “dad jokes” and puns, just ask my girlfriend 🙂
218/365 “This Is Not What It Looks Like”
what is your most memorable photo you have created?
I really can’t give a proper answer because at the time of writing I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of them and all of them have meant a hell of a lot to me. My girlfriend and I sometimes go back and look at all the past photos and remember what we were doing on each particular day; where we went, what we had for lunch, conversations she and I had, whether it was a good or bad day, who we talked to, etc. The nostalgia is so much fun 🙂 In that way each photo is like a little diary entry and I couldn’t possibly pick the one that’s most memorable.
do you have a crazy behind the scenes story to share?
Gawd, I’ve got lots lol! Photo #280 was simultaneously fun and terrifying: my girlfriend prettied me up with mascara, lipstick, eyeliner, etc. Having the prickly mascara brush and the eyeliner brush pressing against my eyelids felt really uncomfortable, the lipstick felt gross on my lips, all of it was really strange. I don’t ever want to wear makeup again 😛 When making photo #275 I really did hit myself right in the jaw with the heavy, solid bowling pin (accidentally), and that REALLY hurt.
In photo #131 I sat down in a patch of trees in a park while my girlfriend covered me up in tape. People were walking past and I was honestly worried the police would come because it looked like she was performing some sort of sick torture game on me (I had my mouth open, screaming, for the photo).
For photo #42 I covered an entire room in newspaper, made a newspaper suit for myself and then sat down to read the newspaper. Pulling all the newspaper down afterwards (with my girlfriend’s help!) was so much fun. It was like the room was a huge Christmas present we got to unwrap. Photo #134 was equally-time consuming; I set up a tea-party and hand-drew little trees and clouds and a sun on pieces of paper and hung them from the roof. I covered the table in streamers, set up some teddy bears wearing party hats and then took hundreds of photos of confetti flying threw the air. I had to combine the confetti from all those photos together in photoshop (took hours). I didn’t get to bed until 1.30am.
280/365 “This Is What I Get Up To Everyday 2”
42/365 “I Tried Being Normal But It Wasn’t Really My Thing”
134/365 “I’m Having A Tea Party And You’re All Invited”
you are now a writer on F Stop Lounge…how amazing is that?! what do you plan on writing about?
Yeah it’s good fun! A few articles have been about my photography, I’m also currently doing a three-part series on how to be creative with lighting. I’ve got quite a few ideas in mind for future articles, super pumped to get stuck into them! (check him out on f stop lounge!)
what are some goals and dreams you have? where do you plan to see yourself in years from now?
I never use the word “dreams” because to me it implies it’s something you’ll never achieve and can only ever dream about… Goals is a kickass word though 🙂 For now I’m happy to keep doing this 365 project, challenging myself as much as possible each day. I’ll be finished in a couple of months though, and from there I plan to do BIGGER and BOLDER concepts (since I’ll have more time to work on them). I’m also planning on hitting up Model Mayhem and starting to work with models. I’m a little bit intimidated but also super excited – in a way my 365 project has been pretty “safe” and easy because I’m mostly shooting myself. Models will be a challenge I’m really looking forward to. (On that note if you happen to live in the Melbourne area and want to do some photos with me sometime in the future – even if you’re not a model – feel free to hit me up!)
what would you say is the best way or your favorite place you have been networking?
Google+ is pretty sweet, I’ve made a lot of friends on there. We have this thing going now where every photo I upload, we try and write as many terrible puns as we can think of that relate to the photo. We’ve got about 15 people involved now, it’s frickin’ hilarious. We’re all going to Pun Hell.
What has made the biggest difference in your work and/or photography career?
Easy one: Phlearn.com. Most of what I’ve learned has come from there, not to mention Aaron Nace (who owns Phlearn) was the only reason I got back into photography and also the only reason I started a 365 Project. Thanks for kicking my butt into gear, Aaron.
i have some random questions i curious about…. ok, i HAVE to know, what is with the bowling pin?!
If I had a dollar for every time somebody’s asked this, I could buy an entire bowling alley! Just before I started the 365, I was in a thrift shop called Savers. I saw this sweet bowling pin just sitting there, I think it was only $5. I “ummed and ahhed” about buying it, walked around the shop for a while debating whether or not I needed a bowling pin. I couldn’t think of a possible use for it… Why on Earth would I ever need a single bowling pin?
But that pin kept looking at me, kept beckoning to me. “Buy me, Andy. Buy me.” It just looked so sexy sitting there, and as I ran my hands over its smooth, varnished exterior, I asked myself a single question. “Can I afford NOT to buy a bowling pin?” So I bought that thing, took it home and used it in the very first 365 photo I did, “Pinhead”. I’ve used it in SO many photos since there, sometimes as the centerpiece, other times hidden in the background somewhere. I can’t even imagine what my 365 would be like without a bowling pin…
201/365 “YumYums” 275/365 “One Hit Wonder”
you can spend the day doing whatever with ONE photographer (dead or alive) who is it and what are you going to do?
My first choice is Aaron Nace from Phlearn! Huge inspiration to me, not to mention a Photoshop God and he’s definitely influenced my photographic style. Some of his work is very serious and emotional, but a lot of it is hilariously silly – I love that. If you watch his videos he definitely knows how to have fun and enjoy himself, I’d love to spend a day on set with him.
My other choice would be YOU, Robin 😀 You’d take me to the woods or some kickass location and we’d spend the day taking kickass photos and neither of us would stop chatting for a single second lol 😀 I’m sure we could talk the bark off the trees 🙂 (oh we would we would!)
as a music lover i always have to ask….favorite band or music?
I like a lot of music (thank you Pandora!) Royksopp are insanely awesome. So are Guano Apes (their old stuff). I love trance, drum and bass, break, chillout. I love 80’s rock and pop, love ballads. I love clubbing music. I’m a fan of classical music too. I like everything really; I’m a big music slut.
when are you coming to san diego so we can do a shoot together?!
I’ll come to San Diego if you come to Melbourne 😉
(time to start saving my money!)
268/365 “Yeah I Can Do Magic 2”
thank you sooooo much andy for taking the time to talk shop and of course for being such a kick ass photographer to follow! an early cONgrAtuLaTiOns on finishing up your 365 project! what a truimph for you! i hope you all reading this enjoyed getting in andy’s brain a bit, i know i had a blast! be sure to follow him and say hello!
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