The Sleeping DogHow often do we wish we could take the great photos like the professionals?  This month John Isles talked to Andy & Kathy and got some very useful advice.

John started by asking Kathy to tell us a little about Andy and what you do.

Andy was born in Torquay and opened his studio, Pyramid Torbay, in July 2007 and has established himself as one of the leaders in his field in the South West.

Andy’s love of photography stemmed from an early age and has studied this art form extensively, travelling abroad on field trips through Europe, America and, as far afield as Mexico and Cuba.

He is recognised locally not only for his fine work but also for his out-going personality and obvious love of his work. Andrew is a real people person and has been a mentor and role model for many aspiring and established photographers.

Andy regards photography as something that is always evolving and developing. When he returned to study at South Devon College in Paignton in 2007, he was among the top five highest achieving photography A-level students in the country, of which there were 3,720 candidates. While at the college he also received an award for the most outstanding art and photography student and is still held in high regard by his former tutors.

In 2008 Andy was accepted into the ranks of the Master Photographers Association (MPA) after being awarded a prestigious Licentiate qualification. Gaining this accolade is testament to his expertise in this demanding field.

Andy said: “To gain recognition from such a highly regarded organisation is fantastic.  This endorsement means reassurance for customers seeking a professional service with high quality results.”

The MPA is the leading organisation within the photographic industry and prides Rotary Pedal Car Grandprixitself on the quality of its members. Membership of the association is only open to full-time professional photographers and commands strict entry requirements.

Andy’s work covers everything from studio shoots to event photography. He is also a recognised press photographer working extensively with both the local and national media. His images regularly appear in Torbay’s Herald Express, Plymouth’s Western Morning News and Newton Abbot’s Mid-Devon Advertiser. Additional publications which have featured his work include The Guardian, Digital Photo Magazine, Devon Today and Dance Today, among others. In fact, Digital Photo Magazine voted his ‘Sleeping Dog’ as an award-winning shot.

Andrew’s Cuban series of images have drawn much praise and he says he is inspired by scenes of ‘local people in local environments’. However, he states his proudest moment as an official photographer at a recent South West visit by Her Majesty The Queen.

John: Most of us are ‘holiday snappers’ and don’t have the expensive gear. Can good pictures be taken with a good basic camera?

Agatha Christie Rotary FeteAndy: Yes, they can. With a little know-how and good composition, it is possible to achieve a great shot. Even basic cameras will have specific settings for different conditions, so always try to take the camera out of ‘auto mode’ and select the correct setting for the conditions (i.e. current light, landscape or close-up portrait, etc).

John: What are some of the easy pitfalls people fall into when taking a picture?

Andy: Usually it is the composition that can be the downfall. Composition is so important for good results. Make sure there is a main focal point in your composition (i.e. a person or flower, etc) and ensure that it is positioned with sufficient space around it. A good tip is to place your subject off-centre to add interest. If your camera has a sensor that detects details (focus point), ensure that this is placed on your subject. Next, take time to look at what is surrounding your subject – many people take their shot quickly only to find there was a tree directly behind a person which now looks like it is growing out of their head! One of my greatest tips is to stand firmly and keep as still as you can to avoid any blur from hand shake.

John: What do you consider to be your best photograph and why was it taken and what made it special?

Andy: I have a few favourites but I guess the one that sticks in my mind is ‘The Sleeping Dog’. This is a shot I took while in Havana, Cuba. While walking around the cemetery, which is an amazing visitor attraction in itself, I spotted a dog fast asleep on the Tarmac. He looked like he was moulded to the road in the heat of the day. His colours were so rich in the surroundings, I just had to capture this image, so I laid down flat in front of him to take the shot – it must have looked really funny! He didn’t even flinch or flicker an eyelid. I must assure you that he was asleep and very much alive, although he didn’t move a muscle while we were there – it was so hot! The resulting photograph was fantastic and I still have it displayed in my studio. In fact, this image also secured a top place in the Digital Photo Magazine awards.

John: If you could photograph just one person or one place, who/where would it be and why?

Andy: I am a massive Elvis Presley fan and, therefore, I would have dearly loved Xmas Grottoto have had the opportunity to photograph the ‘King’ in action. The closest I have managed is a wedding shot outside Gracelands with Kathy on our wedding day. Of course, I had to pose in many of these myself which, as most photographers will tell you, is not comfortable. Most photographers like to be on the opposite side of the camera, taking the shots!

John: Andy & Kathy, many thanks for sharing this with us and I’m sure when the sun shines we shall all be out there with our cameras.

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0 thoughts on “Help for your pictures

  1. Janice Mason says:

    Great interview, as a keen photographer I found it very interesting. Despite us happy snappers and the amount of photos in the World, there is always a real joy in seeing an image produced by someone who really has the vision.

  2. Jill A Johnston says:

    Good to read your comments on composition, Andy. Photography is a favourite hobby, even if I have little talent for it!!


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