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Interview with Drew Gardner

How did you start as a photographer?

At 14 I really did not know what I wanted to do until my Dad bought a Practica LTL3 camera, I was hooked. I saved every penny I could form my paper round and when I was 15 I bought a Canon A1 (which I still have)
I had a keen interest in Photojournalism and i photographed heavy lorries driving on the pavements of the town I lived in, at times, narrowly missing pedestrians.
The Spalding Guardian ran the pictures and a photo of me on the front page of the paper, they gave me a job shortly after, emptying the bins, mixing chemicals and photographing jumble sales and cake stalls. This was nearly 35 years ago.

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What is photography for you?

A huge part of who I am.  A passport into other people’s lives.
A love of my life that never fades, I think of it from the time I wake until the time I sleep. Then I dream of it.
Can you tell us a story or a funny episode that happened during one of your shootings?

There are too, too many but the one notable one that sticks out is when I met Nelson Mandela. A great man.

Have you ever thought about changing your photography style?

I change my methods of shooting all the time. In this age of so many possibilities it is important never to stand still, I shoot stills, moving and new media. However my underlying style remains quite similar no matter what the genre.

Being a professional photographer today, what is your relationship with the “commercial side” compared to the time you spend taking the picture. Where do you put more efforts and resources?

This may be a difficult one for people to grasp but I spend no more than 10 percent of my time shooting, the rest is planning, driving and marketing myself

Do you try to impose your composition style in every different situation, or do you choose differently according to the subject?

I always try to shoot something in a  fresh and interesting way but I suspect that I do not always succeed in this. I do believe that it is important that the viewer can see your particular style and signature that makes your work stand out in an ocean of photography.

For an image to be interesting, do you think it needs necessarily to be composed in an original way?

Not at all.

Content can carry the day even if it is sometimes
poorly composed.

Train Driver Bill Tyndall


What is your most concern in a shot, the framing, the main subject, the background? Can you bring some examples?

It is really difficult to give specific examples but it is really important to deal with the subject as a whole.

Sometimes the background will be of really great significance, other times not.

It really is more important to understand and be in tune with your subject and to convey the essense of what you are shooting in a truly authentic way.

There are no hard and fast rules.
Infact in any seminar I give I say that the most important rule is that there are no rules.

What’s the importance you give to color? And to light and shadows?

This really falls into my previous answer

How do you engage a very dynamic scene?

To be in tune with it and not to impose my will too much. There is a great deal to be said for ‘going with the flow’ BUT it is key that you hang onto your photographic goal and not be deflected from it by ‘the moment’

Do you have any gear or accessory preference, especially related to your photographic style?

My smallest camera is a GoPro, my biggest camera is a Phase One with a selection of Canon,s 5d MkII and 6D and Fuji X1 Pro in the middle but they are all just tools which do a job and I chose the camera depending on the assignment. One non negotiable is my Gitzo 5 series systematic tripod. No matter what the camera or the shoot it plays a key part. sometimes making the difference between getting the shot and missing it.

When you shoot are you always aware of the post / treatment you will have to do to the image?

This for me is a really key rule.
Shoot with post production in mind at the beginning of the shoot not the end of it. I learned this the hard way in the early days of digital photography, spending days fixing something that I should have taken into account at the beginning of the shoot

What are the character and technical requirements that a passionate beginning photographer should have to approach you photographic genre?

I have a simple piece of advice that I offer ‘Love what you shoot, shoot what you Love’ if you follow this you will not go too far wrong. It is also important to master the gear that you own, so you do not even have to think about it when you are shooting. practice really does make perfect, well almost.

Which photographic genre you don’t like to shoot?

Anything which does not involve people.

Any suggestion you feel you want to give to somebody approaching photography today?

Follow your heart and not the money, you will be surprised where it takes you.

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