Inside this issue
A Northumberland based creative photographer at his happiest alone in the landscape making “Abstract Landscapes” using ICM techniques to capture and post processing to form painterly-like images.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
When we think about ICM (intentional camera movement) images, we often have in mind something that still references the landscape in a way that we can recognise – we can see the trunks of the trees, or the line and colour of the sea or land. Andy Gray has developed a technique which frequently uses exaggerated camera movements, and for which the recorded image is merely the starting point. Post-production the image may still hint at its origin or it may show something new and open to individual interpretation. If you have a love-hate relationship with post-processing, his answers may just make you rethink this a little.
Would you like to tell readers a little about yourself – your education, early interests and career?
I’m Northumbrian born and was raised on the family farm not far from the town of Alnwick. I now live in a tiny village a couple of fields away from that farm which we left in the mid 90s when my father retired. Both sides of my family have a long lineage in agricultural work in and near the county, however I was never keen on the farming, though I grew up with an appreciation of the land, nature and its peace and quiet. Somewhere along the line I had dreams of ending up as an architect and my subject choices embraced this but alas I wasn’t the hardest worker and I took my foot off the pedal later in my school life and went off to the University at Derby for a diploma in the general subject of Building Studies. Coming from this part of Northumberland, most buildings were built of sandstone and in traditional ways. A major development would be a farm steading conversion, so it was a shock that all we learnt about was modern building styles, steel beams, concrete and logistics. My general interest in history must have discounted the credibility of these abominations and my interest and desire to work in modern construction waned. At this time though I discovered the world of computers and I’ve been looking into those rectangular screens ever since!
After working in a local architectural drawing office for a few years I did finally get to work in the old stone built environment I’d wanted to experience back in the 90s. Even though I loved it, in the end the project management side of things took its toll; I had to leave and over the past 6 years I’ve been self-employed doing various digital things to eke out a living.
How did you first become interested in photography and how much time are you now able to devote to it?
There was always just a camera around, compacts of course, but still always a camera in the house for family events. I remember getting my own film compact one year and of course it was then used by me to photograph random things around the farm and scenery rather than family events and such. However, development costs for your kids “random” photos were a bit steep for an agricultural worker’s meagre pay so there wasn’t much chance to be prolific with the number of pictures taken.
In my youth, I’d always been able to draw reasonably well and thrived in visual mediums so maybe photography was just my older, lazier, self’s tool of working visually. The proliferation of digital photography obviously meant the chance to experiment cheaply and helped too. I got my first digital camera in 1999 bought in return for building a website for a local hotel (and taking the photos for it). Even back then post processing was part of what I classed as important; I remember hours spent playing around learning manipulation in Paintshop Pro even before I had my own digital camera.
For a while (around 2011 to 2014) I concentrated on my photography and developed it as much as I could, almost 100% of my time with little return. Recently though it’s while time allows and how much cash I have in my pocket affects whether there’s petrol in the car to get anywhere away from the village.
Who (photographers, artists or individuals) or what has most inspired you, or driven you forward in your own development as a photographer?