Andy Brown is a musician and a photographer with an evident penchant for headshots. He has taken some time out from life in Buckinghamshire, which he shares with his wife and their 2 year-old son, to have a quick chat with us about his work.
What was your first camera?
The first camera I remember buying was a Canon 20D. I upgraded to a Canon 550D after that which I absolutely loved!
How and when did you get into photography?
I started seriously a couple of years ago, but I first started getting interested in it about ten years ago, when I first met my wife who is a photographer. She was doing a lot of cool events for brands and I started to become fascinated with it.
What does photography mean to you?
At the moment it’s my life. Even more so than music. The music has kinda taken a backseat since the photography stuff has started to take off.
I love portrait photography - headshots are my speciality. I would say my style is quite recognisable but of course I’m biased! It’s a little bit muted in the highlights and I always like the image to look as natural as possible, but in an arty way! Whatever that means - ha!
I always like to represent the subject in the best possible way. For me the retouching process is just as important as getting the shot.
Music or photography?
It’s a tough question! Music is my life so that will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s very different to compare as they’re such different industries, but photography is a great outlet for me, especially if I’ve been in the studio for weeks and need a break from music!
What equipment do you have now and what is your favourite lens?
I have a Sony A7Riii and also an A7iii. I recently sold all my Canon stuff and moved to Sony. For me I just think it’s much more user friendly and more forward thinking technology wise. My favourite lens is the Sony 85mm f1.4. I just love it. It’s razor sharp and the colours are fantastic for my needs.
Where do you get inspiration?
I follow a lot of portrait photographers on Instagram. I love all types of photography but there’s something I just love about working with people. Photography wise I’m inspired by people like Jon Snip, Dani Diamond and Michael Shelford. But my main inspiration with photography comes from the person. Their story… their look and their style.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I would say both! My headshot business is a professional business. Before lockdown I was starting to get really busy. But with the theatre industry being hugely affected by everything going on, the demand for headshots at the moment is a lot lower than usual. It will take a bit of time to build everything back up again.
I also love taking photos of my family. Because my wife is a photographer too our house is mostly consumed with photography chat and equipment! We also have a two-year-old son who is our model most of the time although he hates having his pic taken!
Do you plan what you want from a photo in advance?
Yeah sure, because I shoot mostly actors and performers, I always have an idea of the client before hand. I get their spotlight link, which is the platform for auditioning in the TV/Theatre world, and this allows me to get a feel for the client. I may also get a brief because if they’re looking at specific roles that will massively affect the shoot. For instance, if they want to be in the next big police drama I will plan a shoot around the conventions of a police drama and this will affect the lighting, styling, expression – everything within the scene.
Studio, on location or both?
I have my own studio now where I do all my shoots. When I first started I did a lot on location but I always think it’s a lot harder because you can’t control the light. I’m lucky that the studio also has a huge north facing floor-to-ceiling window so I’m able to shoot shots in natural light as well as artificial.
One of the problems with shooting on location is that, in and around London, it’s very difficult to get the privacy you need to build up a relationship with the client. Maybe surprisingly, a lot of my clients don’t like having their photos taken and they can get quite self-conscious if there are people around!
What has been your most memorable session and why?
I’m lucky enough to have worked with some great people. I haven’t had a bad session yet! I did a shoot with a great actor, who’d been in some note worthy shows including Peaky Blinders. I learnt a lot in that shoot because rather than being so focused on getting the perfect technical shot, it was more about getting the shot that captured and represented him in the best way for the roles he wanted to be seen for.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start out?
I suppose I’m not really in a position to offer advice as such. But in my experience all I would say is that for me the best thing has been sticking to a certain style of photography and specialising in a certain area. There are so many great photographers out there but I feel if you’re awesome in a certain area your stuff will get noticed. For me social media is the best form of marketing. Create an Instagram and make sure it has a theme. When people start sharing your work on there that’s how you get more business.