Photography eBooks and Travel
Hi guys, I recently interviewed Andrew S. Gibson. I asked him a couple of questions about his great photography. Some of his photography is really inspirational and he’s also written some unbelievable eBooks all about photography.
0:24 Who is Andrew?
1:00 eBooks – When and How did you start writing them?
4:36 Work for EOS Magazine
5:53 New Zealand?
9:14 Camera Equipment Andrew Uses
14:22 Andrew’s Photography Inspiration
17:08 Overwhelmed with too much Stuff?
19:16 Education and learning?
21:55 Great Photographers to follow
21:43 Social media?
28:07 Other photographers
30:03 Andrew’s Favorite Photos
42:48 Current Projects – New eBook on Portraiture
50:00 Best Advice from Andrew
57: 34 Tell us more about the “Understanding EOS” eBook of yours
Who is Andrew S Gibson?
Brent: Can you tell us who you are and what are the things you’ve done in the past?
Andrew: Yes, this is an interesting question in itself because a lot of people, when they see my website, they assume I am a professional photographer, but I am not. I make a living writing about photography and I have been doing that for a few years; I have been self-employed for 2 and a half years now and before that I was working as a writer and also as an editor for a photography magazine called “EOS Magazine”, which is in the UK.
Awesome Photography eBooks
Brent: Tell me more about your eBooks and could you tell us a little more about the writings that you’ve done?
Andrew: The eBooks have taken up the majority of my time. It’s something that I enjoy doing. It all started off with Craft & Vision which is a website and publishing company that probably a lot of your readers and listeners have heard about. About 3 years ago, David duChemin, the photographer who runs Craft & Vision, published a few eBooks on his website and I think they sold quite well. I bought a few of the eBooks and I was reading them through. At that time, I was working for EOS magazine and I look at his eBooks and I thought, well actually this is a really cool format. It’s not like writing a print book, which tends to be very long, about 200-300 pages, so they have to be quite in depth. It involves a lot of photos and it’s quite a big project.
Special Discount for Readers
Andrew has given us all a special deal.
Thanks Andrew :)[/twocol_one_last]
The eBooks, on the other hand, are ready to be shown and they’re also very interesting because he was writing from the point of view of a professional photographer. You know, once he writes, he always have good advice given. His photos are very good and also very inspirational. Then I thought, you know, I could do this. This is something that I could do as well. And so, I sat down and I thought about it and I thought well, what am I going to write about? Obviously, I need something to write about. At that time, I had a lot of Black and White photography, so I thought, what about I write a book about Black and White photography? So, I sat down. I worked out the plan. I had to wait and see if he’s interested because at that time, he’d only publish books which he buys himself, so I didn’t know if he’s interested in books of other people or not. And then I thought, hang on, if I send him an email, he doesn’t really know who I am. So, all he’s going to do is say, “well write it and send it to me anyway.” I just went ahead and wrote it. I spent about a month putting it together and then emailed him and sent it to him and he liked the idea and I’ve been writing for them ever since.
Brent: Awesome! I’ve actually read and bought a few of the Craft & Vision books and they are all unbelievable. They’re great. I love the simplicity to it, the huge images on the pages. Some of them take up a double page spread, like the actual image goes to over two pages. You can consume it pretty quickly like in a couple of hours.
Andrew: Yes, that’s kind of the beauty of the eBooks really. You can read them through in one hour if you want. Most of them have a lot of details in there so you can go back and re-read sections and learn more. They’re not just something that you read once and then forget about. They have a lot of value. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. You can go back and get more out of it each time. I think that’s very important.
Brent: Awesome, good! Just a little bit in your background. I notice that a lot of the books that you wrote are on the Canon camera, the EOS system, can you just go and talk a little bit about that?
Andrew: Yes, that came about mainly because of the work I do for EOS Magazine. I worked for them for nearly two years and as you can probably tell (even if you’ve heard about the magazine or not) by the name, they just write about EOS camera system. One of the things that differentiate EOS Magazine from the other major photography magazine, or most of the others is that they write about things in depths. Whereas I think a lot of photography magazines, especially the popular once, tend to simplify things. But that’s not what we did with EOS Magazine. We just explain how to use your camera to take better photos. We keep things simple but we don’t dumb down. We’re not afraid to go into some of the more complex technical stuff that some people want to know.
Lives in New Zealand
Brent: We’d probably get back into the eBooks in a little bit, but just a question; You’re living in New Zealand, are you?
Andrew: That’s right. Yes.
Brent: Where are you from originally?
Brent: What made you move to New Zealand?
Andrew: Well, mainly because I have a girlfriend whose family lives in New Zealand.
Brent: Okay. That’s a good reason, I guess.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s a good reason. Another fact that makes it easy is that, I actually grew up in Australia. My parents moved there when I was young. We lived there for 10 years and moved back to the UK. So I have an Australian passport as well as an English passport. That means when I move to either Australia or New Zealand, I don’t need to go through the immigration process. A lot of people who immigrate to New Zealand or Australia, they have to think about it for a long time. They have to do their research and go through the application process. It’s a long, winded thing. Whereas me, being fortunate , I can just come whenever I want. It’s just like moving. It seems like a good idea at this time.
Brent: And has it work out for you? Do you like it there?
Andrew: Yes, it has in many ways. One of the biggest shocks in New Zealand I think is that the cost of living is very high. It always used to be the kind of place where people would go to from the UK because the cost of living was significantly cheaper than the UK. But now with the shift in exchange rate, it’s now more expensive to live here than it is in the UK. That was a bit of an eye-opener. It’s something that I wasn’t really expecting. But you know, apart from that, everything has worked out really well. It certainly is a nice place to live. People in New Zealand are very friendly and there’s a lot of beautiful scenery, incredible places to explore, and the weather is pretty good in most times of the year. Yeah, there are a lot of benefits to live here.
Brent: I’m seeing a lot of your landscape photography in your books that take place in New Zealand and surrounding areas. I’m actually looking at one of your books right now, the “Creative Image”, it’s the one you get when we sign-up to your website, the free one that you gave away. It’s just amazing, all the landscape images and some of the images taken around Auckland and you got a couple in other countries, I guess.
Andrew: Yes, that’s right. I’ve been living in New Zealand for the last two years now. I have a lot of photos taken here, which made their way into the eBooks, especially on the West Coast Auckland, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the area at all, but there are lots of nice places there where you can go and take seascapes, and even in the East Coast as well. It’s really good for that.
Camera Equipment Andrew Uses
Brent: Yeah, for sure. I’ve been to Auckland once, but I only spent I think two days there. That was when we were on our way to Australia, when we were immigrating here, too. But yeah, it’s really a beautiful city. Alright, back to photography. Tell me about the main tools of your trade. What kind of bodies do you use? What lenses?
Andrew: My main camera is the one that I use all of the time is an EOS 5D Mark II and at the moment, I have four lenses for it, I tend to keep things fairly simple. I have a 17-40 mm zoom lens, and the rest are primes. I have a 50 mm, 85 mm, and a 40 mm pancake lens.
Brent: That’s interesting. Those are great. I’ve actually got three of those four lenses that you talked about; the 17-40 mm, 50mm, and 85mm. I don’t have the 40mm pancake lens; tell me a little bit more about that.
Andrew: The main reason why I bought it is because, I wrote an article for EOS Magazine. I pitched the ideas in and I said, “Would you like an article about the new pancake lens”? And they said “yeah, sure”. So I went ahead and bought it. It’s quite a nice lens. The advantage of it is that, it’s small. The body of the lens is only about a centimeter long and on my EOS 5D Mark II, it looks like a normal focal lens, but I think of it as a moderate wide-angle. It stands out to be a very useful focal lens. You could get a close-up lens on it and get close to things. You can use it for portraits, there’s not much distortion. It’s just a really cool and useful lens. It’s surprising that the 5D Mark II is quite a big, heavy camera, but when you put that particular lens on, it becomes almost like a compact camera. That’s how it feels after having like the 17-40mm zoom mounted on there. It has a very nice feel because the body is so heavy but the lens is relatively light. It rests nicely in my hands. It becomes a really nice set-up for taking photos. I like that lens a lot.
Brent: What’s the widest aperture that the 40mm pancake lens goes to?
Brent: Oh okay. I know that in some other lenses, they got quite a long minimum focusing distance, especially the 85 mm. When you try to photograph a model or someone, you could get too close on focus. What about the 40 mm pancake lens, has it got a really close focusing distance?
Andrew: It has, yes. I couldn’t tell you what is of hand exactly but I think it’s about 28 cm. You can get in really quite close. I like using my close-up lens a lot, but you can put that one and get even closer if you want to. I took a couple of really nice photos of flowers doing that. That’s was really cool.
Brent: Is there any other stuff that you use a lot that’s not a lens or a camera?
Andrew: Well, there’s my tripod of course. I use a 9-stop Neutral Density Filter a lot for that long exposure photography. And my close-up lens which is the 500D close-up lens that most people call filter. I use that lens quite a lot because I like close-up work.
Brent: Is that the extension tube?
Andrew: No, the close-up lens. You can see that when you go to a camera store and you will see the close-up filters, you’re using that +1, +2, +3 diopter and they can be very inexpensive and you can buy them individually or sets. Most of them are round, so you screw them in front of your camera like a filter but they’re actually lens. They’re like a magnifying glass. There are cheap ones that you see in the shops called “double elements close-up lenses”, they call them lenses not filters, and the quality is very high so they’re more expensive, but the quality is superb especially in a prime lens and I really use one of those.
Brent: So, it fits into the lens mount in your camera and it doesn’t into the front of your lens?
Andrew: No, it goes into the front of the lens like a filter. It just lets you focus more closely.
Brent: I got to try one of that some time.
Andrew: Yeah, they’re really good. On the 85mm lens, that’s where I use it the most, it lets you get nice and close and get some really cool pictures.
Andrew’s Photography Inspiration
Brent: Thanks, Andrew. That’s a really good tip for me to try out. Tell me a little bit about inspiration and how you stay inspired to go out and photograph these amazing images and also write the books that go with them? I know there’s a lot of energy and thoughts that goes into writing a book and I guess you got to focus on the project for maybe like a month. How do you stay inspired and keep going with the project?
Andrew: That’s a very good question because I actually don’t have a problem with inspiration. I enjoy what I do and I think that’s the key to it. I mean, I really like it. I get to do something quite amazing, which are writing eBooks and articles and things like that. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of people really love to do what I’m doing. I think, because I came to it late in life, I appreciate it more and I’m kind of aware that if I’ve done this 10 or 15 years ago, if that’s when I’ve started on this clear path, instead of just about 5 years ago, then by now I have probably achieved a lot more than what I have done now. I’d be a lot further ahead in my career. So I do have a sense of making up for the lost time. I appreciate and enjoy what I’m doing. I have an opposite problem to get uninspired. I have too much inspiration. I have so many ideas of the things that I would like to do over the coming months, so I have to filter those down and pick out the good ones and think about how to carry them out like take the photos and that sort of thing.
Brent: How do you do that? How do you actually figure out which are the highest priority projects to start on first as opposed to try and get everything done at once?
Andrew: It’s just a matter of planning out a year I suppose. Like on my website, I would like to release 3 or 4 eBooks over the course of the next 12 months and also write a couple for Craft & Vision. It’s just a matter of thinking what am I ready to write, because the process of writing an eBook is going out and try to learn new techniques and new things. So I have to go through that learning process before I could put the book together. I consider what do I have photos for? What do I need to go out and take a lot of new photos for? That’s what really takes a lot of time. I just think of several projects ahead and it seems to work itself out.
Overwhelmed with too much Stuff?
Brent: I have the same problems sometimes. I’ve got so much stuff in my head that I want to get out and share with my audience. Someone once told me to do one thing and finish it before starting the next one, instead of having three things going at once. I guess that’s my biggest issue.
Andrew: There’s a guy who’s very interesting. He’s very smart and he’s newsletters we’re subscribing to. His name is Brian Tracy, he has some self-help newsletters. He gives a lot of good advice about all sorts of things that can help you in your career and building a business whatever things you’re into. One of the things he talks about is a concept called “single tasking”, where you concentrate at one thing at a time until it’s done and move on to the next and again concentrate on that. It’s kind of a form of time management because when you skip form one thing to another, it takes time to get up to speed with the new things and getting to it and you skip the other thing and you have to bring yourself up to speed again. It wastes a lot of time. If you can concentrate on one thing as well as getting into it and doing it better without distraction, you’re also saving yourself a lot of time. So, in the long run, you get more things done.
Brent: I think that applies to photography, too. When you’re learning photography, focus on getting one thing right before you with the next and becoming overwhelmed with too much stuff. For instance, if you are focusing on what aperture does, I go out and shoot it and really understand it. What aperture and depth of field do and also how aperture affects exposure. Going out, learning it, knowing it and then going on the next thing like knowing what the shutter speed do. That leads me into the next question, which is all about education and learning. What’s your take on education and how important is it? Where and how do you get most of your knowledge?
Andrew: Well, I think education is very important in a general sense as well, not just related to photography because some people leave school, get a job, and not do much to improve. They tend to stay where they are in life. Whereas I think you get more out of life if it’s a continuous learning process. Even if it’s just stuff you’re doing in your spare time for enjoyment, not necessarily related to your career. But for sure, if you want to advance in your career, whatever that is, it’s a continued process of re-education and learning new things because whatever you do, there’s bound to be new things coming along. When it comes to stuff like photography, whether it’s a hobby or a career, it’s changing so fast. It has changed so fast over the last 10 years. There’s an explosion of new learning material out there, which is really good for anyone who is learning photography because when I started off, I go to the library or the bookstore to buy or borrow a book and read it, but now there’s just so much information online and a lot of it is really high quality as well. It’s just amazing how much you can learn and how much there is out there. I think websites are very good places, especially if you can find the work of a few photographers whom you really like and write good stuff on their blog. You can follow their blogs and learn about what they do. Of course, eBooks are great way to learn and print books as well. There are so many publishers producing really nice print books at the moment. That seems to have picked up over the last 10 years or so. I think when you go back 10 or 20 years, photography books are quite stated a little bit out of date and people weren’t really doing many exciting new things. We have photography books now that teach you to do something rather than portfolio books. The standard has been raised quite a lot and there’s some really good stuff out there.
Great Photographers to follow
Brent: Can you give us one or two websites where you get your knowledge from or people that you are following?
Andrew: One thing I think that’s worth doing when you’re following the work of other photographers is just concentrate on one or two or three that you really like because the problem with so many websites being out there is that it’s very easy to jump around between them and I prefer to just like really get into the work of one person and absorb what’s he’s saying and see what they’re doing and kind of go through their old articles and see what they’re writing about. Now, there’s one guy that I really like, his name is Bruce Percy. He’s a Scottish photographer. On his website, he has a subtitle that goes “the Art of Adventure Photography”. He takes some beautiful photos. He works in colors. He’s got a lot of landscape photography and portraits. He travels to amazing places. He’s been to Norway recently. In fact, he’s been to Tasmania in Australia. He travels to South America to Patagonia, to Bolivia. He’s got a superb eye for photography. And of course, he has a lot of photos from Scotland because that’s where he is from. He writes some very interesting articles on his website about composition and light and the folks behind his work. He’s got a very nice podcast as well, you can subscribe to it. It’s a video podcast and he shows his photos and explains some of his stories behind them. He has some really awesome stuff in there.
Brent: Would you recommend social media at all?
Andrew: Not so much. I mean, I find the easiest way to follow someone is just to subscribe to their RSS feed if they have a blog. I use Pose on my iPad, which is very good for that. There are all sorts of ways that you can do that. Social media, it’s a way of keeping track. If you liked someone’s Facebook page for instance, and they link when they write an article, you might see something that you’ll otherwise miss. But I think the easiest way is to just use a feed reader of some sort and then you can just go through and see what people are publishing and read the stuff that interests you.
Brent: Definitely. Another way is to subscribe to their newsletter; like I send out a tip every week to my subscribers. That’s something that I have been doing. Just getting back to the social media part, Andrew, that’s how I actually discovered you. You were interviewing other great photographers and linking your blogs to Google Plus. That’s how I went into your blog and had a look at your eBooks and everything. You’ll never know how people are finding you.
Andrew: The RSS feed thing is just my preferred way of things, but of course, it’s easy for people to find your work through all sorts of avenues. From a self-promotional point of view, if you want to get eyeballs on your website, the more you can get the links out there, and then the more people will see them.
Brent: I’d like to add to that a little bit. I definitely agree to the continuous learning. Everything I learned when it comes to photography has been self-taught and I’ve done it in my 30’s during the career change; changing from engineering to photography as a full time living. One of the things you get when you first learn photography is that a lot of people get overloaded. There’s just so much out there and you don’t know where to go and what to look at. There’s a pool of information and you can’t absorb it all at once. What I would suggest is exactly what you said. Follow one or two photographers whose work is really something you like and who is giving out really good information. Just follow those people. Stop following everyone else and you won’t get overloaded. You can chunk it down. You can actually get little bits of information, absorb it, try it out, get it into your head, know what you’re doing, until you get into the next little piece of information.
Andrew: Yes, that’s a very good advice. There’s really so much stuff out there. I have eBooks for instance, that I have never read because I bought too much stuff to look at. So you have to make a conscious effort. At the moment, I am not buying anymore eBooks or books until I’ve read the ones that I have. Once I’ve read those, then I can go on and buy something new to interest me.
Brent: I think, we’ve all done that enough. I’ve even had a look at my statistics on people who are watching my videos, my photography training videos. I noticed that the really long videos that are longer than 20 minutes, people watch half of it and then something happens, like they get distracted and never watch the end of it. So what I’ve done now is I’ve actually tried to chunk down the videos. Instead of having a 20-minute video, I’ll have four 4-minute videos so that people can absorb it and go on to the next video. I’m getting a lot more people watching the videos from start to the end.
Andrew: Right. It’s interesting, isn’t it?
Brent: I guess that goes the same for the shorter eBooks too, which you can actually absorb when it’s less than 250 pages. You can actually get through it one, two, or three sitting, or read it on your iPad in bed at night. I think that’s why the eBooks are so popular; the shorter eBooks with lots of images. The next question I’ve got is, are there any other photographers whose work you really admire?
Andrew: Yes. There are a lot of great photographers, but one that I follow is a Cole Thompson and I actually interviewed him on my website, the long exposure photography interviews. He’s a black and white photographer who lives in the United States and he’s got some really nice work. He’s got some very interesting ideas he’s written about in his blog as well. Another guy whose work I really like is Flemming Bo Jensen. He got in contact with me a year or two ago. He read one of my eBooks, the one I wrote about my travels in South America and he was going to South America, so he had a few questions about of the places I’ve been to. He’s got some interesting stuff on his website. He’s one of those people who seem to live life his own way. He does a lot of travelling around, moves from place to place, and takes photos. He’s a very good photographer. He has some really interesting stories on his website. He’s a very intelligent photographer. He’s not writing how-to stuff, but he’s writing about the different projects he’s undertaken and he’s very good at what he does.
Brent: Awesome. I’ll put links to all of the photographer’s websites at the bottom of this post. I’ve actually followed Cole Thompson, too. He’s got some beautiful long exposure, black and white images. I’ve actually tee’d up an interview with him too, which is great. I actually found him from your interview. Let’s have a look at your favorite images that you’ve sent me. Just walk me through them. I noticed that they’re all black and white and they were taken in South America, is it? Can you describe your feelings and your thought process when you photographed it?
Andrew: That’s right. Yes. These photos, they’re fairly old. It’s interesting when you say favourite photos because I think it takes a while for the photos I’ve taken to become favourites. It’s because at the moment, I’m busy taking a lot of photos for my current projects and I’ve taken so many. I don’t really get a chance to sit down and absorb and really see which ones are my favorites. It tends to be ones like these which are from further back in time and they’re probably also favourites because I have such a great time travelling around South America as well, saw these really cool things.
Andrews Photos – His Favourites
This first one that we are looking at is called “Casabindo” and this is a photo taken back in 2004. It was film camera, actually. This was before I moved over to digital camera. I was traveling around the Northwest of Argentina, which is a very beautiful kind of set-up, mountainous place up in the Andes. It really is like going back in time. I’ve read an article about a celebration, a festival or fiesta they have in a small village called Casabindo, which is about 3,600 meters up in the Andes, in the remote part of Northwest Argentina. It’s not even very easy to get to. I went up there. I was in the region and I managed to find out how to get to the village. I went there on the day that they had this bullfight thing that they do. It’s not like Spanish bullfight. They don’t kill the bull. It’s far more dangerous for the bullfighter than it is for the bull. These are just guys from the village. Not matadors or anything like that. You can see that it takes place in a square. We’re looking at one corner of the square. There’s like a low wall around the square and there are a couple of things in it.
One of the things I like about this particular photo is that, the guy got his cloth and he’s got the bull. It’s kind of sizing him up and scraping his paws on the ground. Now, what the guy has to do is that, there’s a headband between the horns of the bull and he has to grab that headband. It’s a test of bravery. Once he’s got the headband, that’s when it’s over. Some of these bulls are pretty tamed. I remember the first one that went out there. The first guy was waving around his cloth and the bull came out and to sniff the ground. It wasn’t really interested in doing anything. The guy just simply shrunk his shoulder and grabbed the headband. The bull wasn’t interested at all. But there was one bull in particular. It’s not the one in this photo, but it was a big black bull and it gave the bullfighter some problems. It’s very aggressive and chasing all over the place. And it actually got hold of him, tossed him up to the air with his horns, he fell on the ground and then he actually jumped up and down on him. It was trying to kill him, there’s no doubt about it. You can imagine a big bull; I don’t know how much it weighed but obviously not light. It was jumping up and down and gave him a really good pounding and lost interest. It ran towards the wall, the opposite wall to what you see in this photo and actually jumped over the wall taking a bunch of people with him and ran off somewhere in the other side. I was sitting in the wall in the other side. Luckily, it jumped over the other side and not my side. There are so many people between the walls, it’s difficult to move. If the bull jumps toward you, there’s only one place you’re going and that’s backwards. You cannot move to the side. The guy that was hit in stampede just got up and walked away. He obviously didn’t get hurt too badly. They had an ambulance on standby in case anyone did get badly hurt. But anyway, one of the things that appeals to me in this photo is all the people sitting on the wall, I think there’s probably a small hill behind the wall, and there’s a small building and there were lots of people sitting on the top. There are even a couple of people sitting in a small window, which is in the side of the building. It’s something that really appeals me about this photo.
Brent: That’s awesome. I notice that there’s a skinny, little tree just behind the bullfighter. If he’s smart, he can run back and climb that tree to get away from the bull.
Andrew: Yes. I didn’t know the branches are a little bit high, aren’t they? I remember the guy who is being chased by the aggressive bull tried to hide behind the tree but he really couldn’t hide because the bull came around a lot quicker.
Now, the next one is called “Iruya” and that’s just the name of the village, where I took the photo from. It’s another remote village in that area of Argentina. I remember I took a bus there from the nearest town and it took about 3-4 hours to get there. The bus winds its way over the tracks of mountains when you get there. It’s all quite primitive. I think one of the attractions there is that, they were having a festival as well. I was there for the month of August and that’s when they were having a lot of festivals and fiestas in the area. The villages have their own traditions. You can see from this photo that the view is quite incredible. It’s a very mountainous area and there’s a woven path that cuts through the rock and there’s a woman leading the donkey were the kid sits on the back. It’s incredible scenery, very beautiful place.
Brent: Can you tell us why you’ve converted this to black and white, or did you shoot it on black and white film?
Andrew: Yeah, I shoot it on black and white film.
Brent: Can you remember what set-up you had? What camera and lens did you use?
Andrew: Vaguely, because I think I had two Pentax camera bodies; one with a 24mm prime lens, which is the one I took this photo with and the other was with a 50mm prime lens. That’s what I had with me.
Brent: I love this image. I like the composition you’ve chosen with the rocky walls in the foreground. I’m kind of going often to the subject of your photo; the person on the donkey getting lead down the pathway and your eyes follow the pathway back to the village. It’s just amazing. I love it.
Andrew: The next one, I’ve just called it Doorway. That was the title in my website and that was taken in a village called Purmamarca, which again is in Northwest Argentina. I think I’ve always liked this photo because it has some really nice texture in it. The tone and contrast is quite nice as well. The door is light and everything else is quite dark. I’ve always had a lot of fun with processing that photo and exploiting all the textures.
Brent: When you processed this, was it in a dark room?
Andrew: No, actually this one was taken a few years later and was taken with a digital camera. So this is done in photoshop.
Brent: I love the textures on there. It looks like that the bits of the wall has come off the plastering on the left side of that doorway. And also part of the frame has come off around the doorway and there’s rocky steps going in there. Awesome shot.
Andrew: It’s nice with all that old and decaying texture. This region of Argentina has the oldest buildings in the country, but it was the first area to be settled. The Spanish colonies came in on the land from Bolivia and they built the first towns and villages in this area, so everything is quite old. There are lots of old Spanish colonial style buildings.
Brent: That’s the great thing about visiting other countries; everything is different from what you’re used to. You see things with a fresh pair of eyes and you can try different angles of view when you’re photographing. These things can make all the difference.
Andrew: Yeah, I’m sure anyone who lives in this village would be thinking; what on earth has this guy taken a photo of this door for? You know, you’re someone from a foreign country coming to take a photo their front door. But yeah, you see things like these in other countries.
Brent: And the next one with a person’s foot?
Andrew: Yes, this one. This is quite a nice image. This was taken in Bolivia. We were in a village called Tarabucco and the reason this village is kind of well-known in the tourist trail is because it’s near Sucre, the capital of Bolivia. They have a market there. I think every week, once a week in the market, you’re not aimed at tourists, it is for the local people because the village is quite remote. I remember there was a bus that you could catch from the city, it took about three hours to get there. So it’s quite a remote, Bolivian village. Boilivia is the poorest country in South America. So it’s like getting back in time when you’re going into these places. When we were there, we could see people walking over the mountains, leading donkeys to go to the village, and they are from other smaller villages nearby and they don’t even have access on electricity. One of the things that they don’t have in these places is TV. When I took this photo, there was a room in Tarabucco where they had a TV up and there’s like people standing around and just looking at the TV. I was absolutely fascinated by it. One thing they do in this place is they like to make sandals out of old toy rubbers. That’s a very common form of footwear here, especially for the poorer people in these areas. I just saw this guy standing here, saw his weathered foot and his footwear there, and took a photo. I knew it would really come out nice in black and white.
Brent: That’s great. You know, I grew up in South Africa and I’ve seen a lot of the tire footwear that they use over there too and it’s very similar to this image.
Andrew: It’s amazing isn’t it? It’s in a different part of the world and yet people still found the same solution to creating footwear.
Current Projects – New eBook on Portraiture
Brent: Can you tell us about the current projects that you’re working on?
Andrew: The main one I’m working on at the moment is an eBook for Crafts & Vision, it’s about portraiture. The theme of the book is using natural lights to take portraits. It’s not like using portable flash or anything like it. It’s all about making the most out of natural light.
Brent: So, are you photographing all the images going into this book?
Andrew: I’d love to. What I also do in some of my other books is use some case studies. I look for photographers that take some interesting work and I shoot them an email and see if they’re interested in taking part because even if I have plenty of photos, it’s still kind of just one photographer’s vision. It’s just one way of doing things. So it’s interesting to fill the gaps, you know the stuff that I don’t do, to find someone whose work is very different from mine, who has a different technique of vision and then that adds to the book as well because you’re not just seeing things just from the point of view of one person. You can learn from several other people as well.
Brent: For you, when you’re actually creating a new book like this, how long does it actually take you go from start to finish? From the concept of what you’re going to do to when it’s actually ready to go and people can purchase it?
Andrew: Well, it’s an interesting question because this one has actually taken me quite a while because the idea was born around September last year, when I started thinking about it and I’m still working on it now. The main reason for that is, I had to take a lot of photos for it. So I’ve been working with a local model. I’ve explained the project to her and she’s really keen on taking part. We’ve been taking a lot of photos together for different parts of the book. I’ve been working with other models as well to take some photos in order to get a bit of variety in there. The photo taking process is what takes a long time, which is why you have to think things ahead with these things. You know how it is especially when you’re taking photos outside, sometimes you get rained off and then sometimes you’re not available and model’s available for a couple of weeks, or something like that. Everything takes time, but it’s coming together now and hopefully we’ll get into that stage where it’s nearly complete. The bigger the selection of images I have, the better the quality would be.
Brent: So, it’s taken you six months to get where you are now. How far are you and when do you think it will be ready for the public to view it?
Andrew: Well this is another thing because when it comes writing stuff, the owner of EOS Magazine, he once told me a little joke about magazine writers, the question is “How close are you to finishing the article?” and the answer people like to give is “Nearly finish. I just have to write it”. Writing it doesn’t really take very long. It’s the research, the thinking about it, thought process, taking the photos, to illustrate the eBook; that’s what takes the long time. When it comes to writing it down, it just takes a few days for you to get the first draft done and then it needs to be edited and refined. At that stage, when the first draft is complete, but I need to take more photos, add some things, organize the case studies, and then once I’m happy with it, it goes off to the publisher. Hopefully, they’re happy with it. If not, they might request some changes and send it off to their copy editor, graphic designer, and yeah, they have their own schedule. I have no idea when it will be ready for the public. I’ll probably send it off to them in a month or so. Whether it would take more time, I have no idea. It all depends on their schedule and other eBooks they have in the pipe line.
Brent: That’s for Crafts & Vision?
Brent: Do they come up with the idea? Or do you come up with the idea?
Andrew: I come up with the idea.
Brent: Then you create the book and send it to them for final review?
Andrew: Yes, because they have a copy editor and a graphic designer.
Brent: So, they do the graphic designing and all that in the book. You just write the book in a word processing format?
Andrew: Well, I use InDesign because we use that in the magazine and I use that to create my own eBooks. I tend to prefer to write in InDesign because that’s the program that their graphic designer uses and it’s also easier to organize your work like that because you tend to write enough content for a page or two at a time and then I could put the photos on so that the graphic designer knows what photos goes with what text.
Brent: That really interests me because I’ve written two eBooks and I know it’s really tough to put it together once you actually got the actual written words and then you got your images and you need to make sure that they fit together really nicely in a great visual way. Sometimes, you take some of your writing out or add some more just so you can fill spaces in there.
Andrew: Yes, that’s all part of the process. Luckily with eBooks, if you’ve got more text that fits into a space, you can write it on to the next page and add a photo or something like that. So, that’s normally how to deal with it. You don’t have to cut too much text. But when I was working for the magazine, we used to do the similar thing. We write the article, send it off to the designer, and then it would come back because the spaces are tight. There might be gaps where you have to add some texts to take it to the end of the column or what is more common is that you have too much text to fill the available space according to the designer. So you have to cut a few paragraphs.
Brent: Oh good, because it sounds pretty complex to me.
Andrew: No, it’s quite straightforward. In eBooks, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to the design.
Best Advice from Andrew
Brent: What’s your best advice to people listening to this, people who have got into digital photography? What is the best advice you can give to get them to the next level of photography?
Andrew: Well, I think it’s very important that when it comes to photography, especially if it’s a hobby rather than your career, is just to enjoy it. That’s the most important thing. Enjoy it and keep learning. Don’t take it so seriously. It all depends on what level you are of course. But for instance, if you want to learn more about portrait, then you can look in the work of some of the good portrait photographers. Maybe buy an eBook or two on it, or buy a book and learn about different things. Be involved; go out, out some techniques into practice. Have some fun and don’t get too worked up about it if the photos don’t come out the way you want to. One of the things that I like about photography is the act of taking photos. It relaxes me, it engages the creative side of my personality. I have times when I go out taking photos and I look at the results and see that there’s nothing in there that I can use, if it doesn’t come out that well or the idea wasn’t that good. I don’t get worked up about it because I actually enjoy the process of taking photos. I just accept that not all things go according to plan; you don’t always produce your best work. I think a lot of people, when you look at forms or comment on articles on websites, they say they’re kind of worked up or they take the wrong things too seriously or get too critical or get hung up on a certain technical point that has to do with aperture or depth of field or something like that. I mean, it’s just nice to relax and just go out and enjoy. If you’re enjoying it, you’ll learn.
Brent: I think that’s an awesome advice. You know, if you’re not enjoying it, then why are you doing it?
Andrew: Well yes, that’s what happens for most people, isn’t it? The majority of people that do photography think of it as a past time. They enjoy it.
Brent: I think there comes a stage that as you’re learning and improving your photography, you start to enjoy it even more because you are creating what you initially want to create. Your vision is coming to reality as your skill level improves.
Andrew: Yes, it’s very rewarding. I remember when I was starting out. That year when I was starting to take photos that was good enough to get a print and put up on a wall or something. I mean, it’s very rewarding. It’s much nicer than buying a print in IKEA.
Brent: What’s your take on people who are critical on images? For instance, you take a photo which you think is great and you put it online, in one of the photo-sharing websites, and someone says something about your photo. What’s your take on that?
Andrew: Since I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve got a good idea on whether or not my photos are good or what the weaknesses are. If someone is critical, I mean there probably is a price e of anything, not just photos. it’s easy to take that thing personally and kind of ignore the message. What I try and do is, think if the person has a point? And it depends in which way they are critical because there are some people who can be critical in a constructive way, which is very useful and that tends to be the kind of advice that is hardest to find. On the other hand, someone could just be very critical. Especially if you’re fairly new in photography, or you don’t have, I suppose a strong sense of the worth of your photo, the strength of your photo, if you’re not sure if you’re creating a strong image or not, it’s easy to let yourself be not downed by someone who is critical. I think it’s important to just not take it personally, but have a look if whether there is a grain of truth in the message. If there is, that helps you out because they give you an idea or it will get you to try and take a better photo.
Brent: I would add to that and say, when I first started taking photos, I took one which I thought was brilliant. I put it online and I’ve got a troll tell me that it was really bad and it brought me down. But then I started thinking about it and I thought, do I actually care what they think? Am taking photos for other people to tell me that they’re great? Or am I taking photos for me? I guess if you don’t care too much on what other people say, then you going to go out and create amazing images anyway because you’re doing it for yourself. If you’re just going to share it to the world because you want other people benefit from your creative vision, then that’s great. I was just actually speaking to a model yesterday and she post a lot of stuff on Facebook and you always get people who say negative things and I had her go through that little talk about not to take things seriously. Yes, you can learn from what people say if they want to help you, but a lot of people who say things on social media just to make themselves look bigger than you.
Andrew: It also depends on what level you’re at too. Sometimes, when you’re new to photography, and you’re just starting out, unless you’ve got lots and lots of natural talent in you, your photos aren’t going to be too exciting more likely. So, when someone who is very experienced looks at your images, even without meaning to, they may say something that puts your off or brings you down. You have to think that maybe for someone who is new to photography, it isn’t likely that you’ll immediately produce images like somebody who has been doing it for ten or twenty years already. So it’s always a difficult think when you’re looking at someone’s photo, and someone ask you for some advice, the advice that you might give an experienced photographer is completely different from what you might say to an inexperienced photographer. Let’s say the same photo, I suppose when someone is fairly new, you’re looking for potential. But when someone is more experienced, you’re looking at helping them get to the next level.
Brent: For the last question, it’s about the Understanding EOS eBook, it’s an amazing book. It’s got all sorts of good stuff in here. It has great images and it goes through the basics of your camera and the basics of photography, but what I really like about this is you actually got through the settings of the camera and a lot of people have asked me this because I also do this basics of photography in my training video series, but what I don’t do is that, I don’t go through the settings of the individual camera and you do. That’s what I really love about this. You actually got a lot of screenshots on where to turn the dials, to aperture value and time value, and what the numbers actually mean on the screen and all that good stuff. Maybe you can tell us a little bit more about this eBook of yours? And also where people can get it from?
Special Discount for Readers
Andrew has given us all a special deal.
Thanks Andrew :)[/twocol_one_last]
Andrew: Yes, that eBook came about because I’ve written a few eBooks about Canon EOS cameras on my website and I realized, it would be nice if I created something that is for complete beginners to photography. So it’s for someone who has just bought a Canon DSLR for the first time and they don’t really know what the aperture and shutter speed is and all that sort of thing means. The book was really written for that type of person and hopefully, that would introduce him to my work as well and they can go on and buy some of the other eBooks if they find this one useful. One of the advantage of writing about a specific brand of camera, as opposed to a more general book which coves things in general is that, you can show people how to adjust these settings on their camera. That’s one of the things that we can do at EOS Magazine. We can be very specific about how Canon EOS cameras work. What I tried to do in this book, is I keep things simple and just show people how they can use these settings in a way that they can find the various things that they need on their camera. I suppose one of the ideas behind it or one of the things that I wanted to do was to simplify the process of taking photos. If you buy that same entry-level camera, as you know on the mode dial, you have the portrait mode, landscape mode, and same intelligent auto, all of these wonderful things. But I think a lot of these are really unnecessary. All you need really is program, shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual, which the most advance cameras have. What I really wanted to say to people is to skip these, don’t use portrait mode. Come over and use program mode if you’re new and you can progress into aperture priority and shutter priority mode as you learn more. It’s really explaining about what aperture does and how you can use it creatively. What shutter speed does and how you can use it creatively. The basics ISO, the white balance and picture styles because really, these are the things you need to know to take a good photo. You really don’t need to know much more than that. Your camera has a lot of different things on there that you can use. You can go and read up on that if you’re interested in learning how to use the quick control screen face. You can go and for an article on that. It’s not an essential part of taking photos. It’s actually pretty useful when it’s not essential. So this eBook just talk about the essential things that you need to get going.
Brent: Awesome. What I’ll do is I’ll put a link on this eBook at the bottom of this post so that people can purchase it from here if they’re interested.
Andrew: Right. Just follow the link and it will lead you to my website, you will see the eBooks there, you can buy it. And also, you can buy the eBooks in bundle as well instead of buying one eBook at a time; you can save yourself a bit of money.
Brent: How can people get hold of you if they want more information?
Andrew: Well the best way is to just go straight to my website which is www.andrewsgibson.com and then it has the links there to my Facebook page, Google Plus, and Flickr. So, everything is on there.
Brent: Thank you so much Andrew – great talking to you. Cheers, Brent
Please comment below if you have any questions for Andrew or Brent
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