I had the opportunity to chat with Andy Anderson the other day but I’ve been a little hesitant to publish the conversation here because it’s just not fair for anyone to have to follow Chris Buck. It’s rare that a photographer is so self aware and willing to lay it all out there like that. But, the show must go on and these conversation/interviews will happen catch-as-catch-can so he’s next.

Andy’s rise to prominence in the editorial and commercial fields of photography is one of those unlikely combination’s of events that will infuriate photographers because it would be impossible to reproduce. He’s never lived in New York, doesn’t visit New York and when pressed to explain his success in photography tries to cop out of it by claiming he’s an idiot savant. There’s always a little bit of luck involved in making it in this field but Andy still has a seemingly endless passion for taking pictures; he comes from the world where relationships, hard work and professionalism are as important as the images and is a hell of a lot of fun to be around on set.

APE: Your career is very interesting to me because you live in Idaho and you used to shoot a ton of editorial and now you shoot a lot of advertising. Can you tell me how you got started?

I was a journalism major going to school in Florida but I didn’t have the attention span for writing and it just wasn’t working out for me. So, I checked out and spent the next 20 years in the Air Force as a fire fighter. While I was there my wife bought me a camera and because it was more instantaneous, gratifying and in the moment then writing for me I was hooked. I was in Alaska for a year in the mid 90’s when that happened and when I got back I started submitting my pictures to magazines and started getting published.

APE: What were you taking pictures of?

Landscapes and fishing. I made really good friends at the time with Terry McDonald who was the editor of Esquire Sportsman.


APE: How did you become friends with him?

andy-landscapeThey were buying my images and I sold them their first cover when they launched the magazine. Terry then got the editor job at Men’s Journal and I was sent to Saudi Arabia for five months right after he started, so he said “I want you to shoot a story while you’re gone. I want you to shoot a story about fighter pilots over in Saudi Arabia.” So, I went and shot it and came back to the states on the 23rd of December 1996. He was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming skiing with his family and he said “I want to see you in Jackson Hole the day after new years and I want you to bring your pictures.” I drove over there, met him and he said “I love the pictures we’re going to run this big, it’s going to be a great story. I want to put you on contract with Men’s Journal.”

APE: Ok, you shot that story on spec basically and then he says come to Jackson Hole and show me the pictures and you have to go all the way to Jackson to show him the pictures. Then he gave you a contract. That’s nuts.

Other than getting married and having children that contract changed my life forever.

APE: This is pretty quick after you picked up a camera for the first time. How is that possible?

I don’t know man, maybe it’s because I’m an idiot savant.

APE: Getting a contract, was that common for magazines back then?

I think it was. They tried to tie up the talent. I think it’s kind of unheard of now.

APE: How did the contract work?

I was exclusive to Men’s Journal editorially. I could not shoot for another magazine that was in competition with them. I had to give them 70 days a year and they paid me almost 6 figures and that didn’t include any expenses. Any flight over four hours I flew first class.

APE: It seemed like Men’s Journal was doing very well in the beginning and sounds like they treated their contributors well.

andyafricaAfter about 3 years things changed and they ended my contract, but that was good for me because I was set. I had made it.

APE: You went from big time editorial to big time advertising. When did that transition happen?

I got Heather Elder as an agent and she’s done so much to help me market my work and then part of it is just where I live. I don’t have to shoot everything, I can pick in choose what I do, because living in Idaho my overhead is not very much.

APE: What kinds of clients did you get a first?

Fishing and outdoor clients.

APE: Did some of the art directors that you worked with back then move on to bigger accounts?

Yeah, some I’ve been with for 15 years now. It’s important for people to realize that your client is not Verizon it’s the art directors and art buyers that work on that account. Those people will always be your client even when they change jobs.

APE: Tell me about working as a professional photographer in Idaho. How is it that you can be in the middle of nowhere and land all these jobs?

I’ve been in Idaho my whole career. I’m always shooting fresh work and I’m always marketing. That’s the key.

APE: Why don’t you pretend like you live in New York?

Because I don’t think it’s the center of the universe.

APE: How have you marketed so well living in Idaho?

Good art directors, art buyer and photo directors will find people.

APE: Do you go to New York and visit people.

No. My rep will visit and I will call them on the phone but I don’t go visit.

APE: Ok wait this is the complete opposite of how most photographers make it. They don’t get 6 figure contracts several years after picking up a camera and they don’t live out in the middle of nowhere and not visit New York for face time. I’m beginning to believe the idiot savant part. It’s just one of those things huh?

I think my work is good and I always shoot fresh work for my book.

APE: You really do shoot a lot of personal projects. Have you always done all this self financed personal work?

Yes, always. I love to take pictures. I just got back from Cuba where I shot baseball players and transvestites. I also used to shoot a lot of pro bono work back in the day to get into the award books. I have a saying. Musicians don’t just play when they have a gig. Photographer need to do the same so they can evolve and look at things differently. Everyone wants to see new work in your book.


APE: What do you think about the industry now. Is it busted?

At some point photographers have to take some initiative. Right now photographers need to work harder at it and don’t cop an attitude either. I get up every day and think how can I work on taking better pictures, how can I nurture my relationships with my clients and how can I build new ones. Photographers are living a dream and we need to get back to the business that given us an amazing living. You can do that by doing pro bono work. It can’t be all taking you’ve got to give back.

APE: What about the guys at the bottom who are trying to make a living. I feel like there is a group of photographers who are talented but struggling and they may or not make it, it just depends on some luck. Finding an editor, art director or photo editor who can help you take their career to the next level.

andytranniecubaThey need to partner with good art directors and get in the books and if that means doing a pro bono project so you can provide an amazing service for a client who can’t afford it but it lands you in the award books then Voila, you have an amazing calling card to land jobs with. For example I have a blues festival in Idaho every year that I put on and I gave some images to an agency in Dallas to design the posters and they did it for free and it got into the award books.

APE: So, has it always been the case that commercial work is not going to win awards so you need to do pro bono work.

No, that’s not always the case but the commercial work is not always going to win awards so you need to do other things to supplement it. There’s no excuse for photographers not shooting all the time

APE: Tell me about your stock site (here), when did you start it?

About 2 years ago. Built it from scratch.

APE: How much money does it make?

Over six figures. A couple big ticket items in there were used as national advertising.

APE: Was it expensive to build?

Yeah, but it’s my annuity for the rest of my life.

APE: I feel like there are two camps in commercial photography. There are photographers who have very strong point of view or a technique and then there are photographers who work really well with art directors. You would fall in the latter camp.

Yes, I would agree. I’m a people person. I do think that having a strong point of view is good but you need to be able to collaborate with art directors because once the thing you’re doing falls out of favor you’re done.


If you have any questions for Andy leave them in the comments and he will try and answer as many as he can.

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  1. Great post. Love the Q&A format. Very insightful.

  2. Superb interview. Thanks Rob. And thanks Andy for being so open to sharing.

  3. Hey Andy, if you had any advice for a 22 year old photographer still in art school, what would it be? What should I be doing now? Are there are great resources that you used, that would benefit us? Thanks a lot for sharing your story with us, it’s a great encouragement.


  4. Thanks for the inspiration. Both of you.

  5. Hello Aaron, this will sound really cliche but very true. Make it your passion. Study photography that you are drawn to, and ALWAYS stay inspired.

  6. Andy,

    You suggest a few times that young photographers work pro-bono for clients who can’t afford full rates in order to go for awards that will help break into the business. This topic has been widely discussed recently, especially during the stir that the Chase Jarvis article caused (http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2008/12/will-work-for-free.html). I understand your desire to do pro-bono projects so photographers can give back, and I’m an advocate for a photographer of your status to do so. But, what about emerging photographers? Doesn’t pro-bono work endanger a young photographer of being the ‘work for free guy’. It seems if you don’t choose who you give your free services to carefully, a slippery slope ensues. How do you choose your pro-bono work, and if you were in the beginning of your photographic career, yet to break in, how would that status effect your decisions?



  7. great question Jesse, remember partner with GOOD art directors. The good ones wont do that. There are questionable art buyers and art directors, but the professional ones will not do that. Great Art Buyers understand this process and help facilitate a project. I promise you.

    Scour Communication Arts, PDN, Graphis and the ADC books find people who’s art direction speaks to you. Remember its a collaboration, so and then contact them. They will be blown away you even took the time to call them.

    My Agent completely supports me on this, its something I would do anyway. This industry is all about VALIDATION. Its very insecure, and the only way you are going to validated is be included into the club. Sucks, but very true. The award books is the membership card. Hope this helps, be well.

    • @Andy anderson,

      Thanks for speaking so openly. I’ll check those books and art directors out. Follow up question. Are there any tell tale signs that you’re working with an art director that has good work, but might be ‘questionable’ with their business tactics. Has that happened to you? Also, isn’t it difficult for pro-bono clients to gain access to reputable art direction? I find, the pro-bono work I have been looking at is consistently unorganized and unprofessional, which is one of the reasons they need free photography and art direction.



      • @Jesse, I would not worry about being taken advantage of. Pro Bono clients have no money. If you believe strongly about a topic find someone to help you with this idea. Start a dialogue. Your bullshit radar will activate if things go sideways. Go for it!

      • @Jesse,

        Perhaps one of the reasons the pro-bono clients seem un-organized is that they do not have budgets. In light of this, they have to ask photographers for services, favors, etc. I have had clients ask me if there is a way I can get them retouching on a pro-bono project for a reduced rate, which is not normally something we negotiate. If the creative is great, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to get them what they need.

        Thomas Chadwick- one of the photographers I represent, photographed a series of 4 ads for a pro-bono client 2 years ago and won a Cannes Lion. It was an amazing result. The same agency came to us with another pro-bono assignment in December and we jumped at the chance to shoot it.

  8. Rob, thanks for the interview and Andy, thanks for participating. Andy, I really admire your work and also your commitment to live the life you want to live. I can’t say how important I think it is to forge your own path. In doing so, it seems that things have worked out pretty well for you. Thanks for the confidence booster!


  9. Andy, you said, “Yes, I would agree. I’m a people person. I do think that having a strong point of view is good but you need to be able to collaborate with art directors because once the thing you’re doing falls out of favor you’re done.”

    Does this mean that you:

    1) Change your work to suite the “Look” of the times? i.e. the portraits on here are high color and contrast, very much the “Look” of the moment. So if there is a backlash in the industry, back to un-retouched images and flatter color, would you start shooting that way? Or do you just think to yourself, screw what is going on, I have a POV and I’m going to shoot and do what I want, regardless if it gets me work.

    2) Are you saying in the above quote, since you have built relationships with AD’s, that regardless of what your book looks like, they will always call you for work since they like you personally and enjoy working with you?

    3) How often do you contact AD’s on just a friendly basis? What do you do to keep in contact with them that doesn’t seem disingenuous? If you have worked on a job with someone are you sending them birthday cards? Taking them fly fishing? Going to their kids pop warner football games? How do you do any of this without seeming like a pest, and how many of them say, don’t call us, we’ll call you? or, “It was nice working with you on that job, and if we ever have anything else I’ll get in touch.”

    On a different topic…..When you say that your rep visits AD’s and then you call them. What do you typically say in this phone call? Do you favor getting to know AD’s rather than Art Buyers?

    Thanks for your answers.

  10. Nice,

    I agree that being nice and less attitude will go a lot further then the other. I see it as we are a lucky bunch to do what we love. I get paid to play. Because in the end it hardly feels like work to me. That has been my moto for the past 12 years and it has work!


    Scott Van Dyke

  11. Andy is such a superb person – and art directors love him. Rob thanks for putting this up!

  12. amazing!

    cheers and god bless.

    this was appreciated.

  13. I was fortunate enough to assist Andy a number of times, back when I was a freelance assistant in San Francisco. It was always a pleasure to work with him, because number one, you knew you’d be helping him make some great images, but also would have the opportunity to learn a lot from him.
    If you had questions about anything, he never hesitated to answer them openly and honestly.
    Anyone who questions his quick rise to prominence is off base. From what I saw, he earned it by working hard and focusing on the goal, something I try to keep in mind when I start a day of work. Wake up. Make pictures.
    He also introduced me to the Graflex RB Super D 4×5. The coolest camera….ever.

  14. Hey Greg,
    Nobody wants to work with ass)&%)#$#@’s Nobody. That’s what I mean.

    1. My work evolves, hopefully yours do too. I have 16 4×5 Graflex Super D, 2 5X7 Graflex Super D’S, 2 8×10 Deardorff. I shot the whole 2002 Winter Olympics with my Graflex Super D. The lenses are not contrasty.

    My recent trip to Cuba, I wanted to shoot it differently. I studied what I wanted to do. I guess, I should have traveled and shot the what everybody has done before. I choose to do it differently.

    2. No that’s not what I’m saying. People have to be attracted to you because of your photography, FIRST!! You are a photographer, and photography is your product.

    I don’t rely on my rep to maintain and to forge new relationships. That is foolish. You need to be engaged in your business. Become a aware of your industry and call people, or send a email saying you liked what he or she did. All the other stuff is unprofessional and I would like to think no one would do that sort of thing. Hope this helps.

    Art Buyers are the people who look and find shooters for AD’s espicially if the art directors are too busy. They work together to find the look for the client.

  15. By far one of the best interviews I’ve rad anywhere in a long time.

    Great stuff!!

  16. This whole interview and posts are 100% awesome. Thanks to all.


    With so much advertising going online and editorial drying up do you find yourself shooting differently for with web use in mind or is it business as usual?

    You’re right on the money about pro-bono work. I did a job for a health services company pro bono and won two addys.

    Are your shots of the trannys on your site? Love to see them.

    • @Giulio Sciorio, fabulous! Photographers have a gift and we all should give back. Yes, the image of the ladylike person is a transsexual on this interview. They are are extremely interesting people. A few more on my site.

      • @Andy anderson, LOL! I had no idea that the lady is transsexual. I thought it was just a lady.

  17. Great work rob!
    Andy and Chris Thanks for the candor. Ive been a fan of both for years.
    Inspirational stuff.

  18. keep this coming rob..this is good stuff.

  19. Andy,

    Thank you for this interview, I’ve been tracking your career for a little while and have always been curious how you’ve made it work. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m curious though about giving back. I’ve attempted to contact charities / non-profits directly with projects in mind but get little response and its always surprised me.

    How do you go about doing this? Is it a concept you first come up with, find a AD and then approach the “client”?

    Do you ask a AD you have an existing relationship with or do you seek out a new one that you think will benefit this project?



    • @Justin Myers, seek and build relationships. With Art Buyer’s Art Director and clients. This includes old ones and new ones. Shoot new work and present it. I think its better to partner with the creatives and go from there! That’s just me. This whole pro bono aspect is that only a small aspect of a large piece of pie. There are so many other facets to being a successful photographer

  20. I’m not easily impressed with most of today’s so-called ‘elite’ shooters, but this guy is the *&^%!!!! Yes, that’s a compliment.

    Love your work.

  21. Ahhh, Andy. I just went back to your site and looked at your Hwy 6 Mississippi work that I didn’t notice before.

    Tell me, what do you know about Sledge, Crenshaw, Marks, Vance, Clarksdale?
    I did regular documentary work along that stretch of the Mississippi Delta for years before moving to NY. Some of the work can be seen in my ‘Down South’ section on my site. http://www.ivysion.com/downsouth.htm

    • @Tim, hey thanks for the info. I will get back to you about this. Talk soon.

  22. Well done again Rob. Andy does beautiful, thoughtful work and it’s certainly nice to see an unpretentious good guy make it to the top.

  23. Ah yes, fawning at the altar of AA. Be careful what you wish for, there’s a good chance you’ll regret it!

    • @Intentionally Anon,

      Fawning? Where’s your altar hotshot?

  24. Justin Myers, seek and build relationships. With Art Buyer’s Art Director and clients. This includes old ones and new ones. Shoot new work and present it. I think its better to partner with the creatives and go from there! That’s just me. This whole pro bono aspect is that only a small aspect of a large piece of pie. There are so many other facets to being a successful photographer

  25. Thanks again for the excellent interview, Rob. Andy your work is great and it is good to hear from someone who has built a successful career that does not revolve around NYC. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing and taking the time to answer the comments here.

  26. andy
    didnt you work with ray meeks as an assistant? wasnt this a big influence on you? if you did work with him why no mention of him just the idiot savant remark.



    • @jonathan beller,
      Don’t try and read something that’s not there.

      • @A Photo Editor,
        thats what im wondering why its not there. if andy did not work with ray meeks then im sorry i made a mistake. if he did then im wondering why its not mentioned . its also hard to believe this rag to riches story. one day he is a fireman then a big time advertising photographer. there has to be something else.i also think its relevant because you have chris buck saying you shouldnt assist and just go out and shoot. with andy assisting helped him learn technique and develop relationships with art directors. if he worked with ray.
        i like andys work alot . im just wondering what the truth is.
        i would love to hear what andy has to say about all this.

        • @jonathan beller, I have NEVER worked as an assistant.

        • @jonathan beller,
          As I said in the beginning this kind of thing infuriates photographers… like you.

          • @A Photo Editor,
            thats not true . im not angry. like most photographers im concerned with my own work and life to even think about andy and his career.i wish andy all the best. i like the new work .he is a very talented photographer. but i still think there is something there that is not being talked about. about how he started and how he got the look he had in the beginning. i am always interested in how people get their start and this is very vague. i love the blog and the interviews please keep up the good work.

            • @jonathan beller,

              There is plenty that is not being talked about. I am not dissecting someones career here. It’s a conversation not a road map.

              He’s allowed to tell us as much about how he got where he is and how he does things as he feels like. I prefer a little less.

              You are obviously trying to insinuate that he copied or drew inspiration from Ray Meeks and I find that insulting not to mention a worthless path to follow. The influences and similarities photographers have is endless.

      • @A Photo Editor,
        sorry i was wrong . i thought there was a ray meeks connection there.

    • @jonathan beller, No Jonathan you are incorrect about me working with Ray Meeks as an assistant! In fact Jonathan I have never worked as an assistant!

      • @Andy Anderson,
        i guess i was wrong im sorry. your earlier work looks so much like ray meeks , i thought you had assisted him.im sorry i was wrong. did you know of rays work at the time? your story is inspirational.thanks for getting back and setting me straight

        • @jonathan beller, Hey Jonathan…………your a flippen $##%))#@#!!@ and Russell just sunk your battleship. get real

  27. We need to send the Jackanory out west to get a picture of Andy and Ray together. How do we know they’re not the same person? Has anyone thought of that? Also, if you make a screenshot of that transvestite image on Andy’s site, run it through the high pass filter and flip it to soft light mode, the he/she suddenly has a visible tatoo that looks like it says “Ray is God” – Explain that Mr Anderson!

    Rob – you should really try and vet your interview subjects more carefully – I know it may be more difficult to get folks to agree to interviews if you need to see tax returns, client lists, names of any photographers that they assisted or were influenced by, but c’mon, this reflects poorly on you in the end.

    • @Russell Kaye, nice one Russell. Maybe Jonathan will get the message now

    • @Russell Kaye, I have actually seen Ray and Andy in the same room, so I can attest to the fact they are not the same person. But I have never seen Daguerre and Talbot in the same room so I am not convinced they are not the same person!

  28. How many people who don’t need the money, are going to keep telling everyone to shoot for free? It’s becoming quite tiresome.

    You say pro bono, people hear no strings attached free. You sold an image for your first cover- the people listening to you will give it away for a gutter credit at best, with nary an award possibility in sight.

    Photographers are already one of the most business challenged demographics on the planet, and this is like giving them an express ticket to insolvency.

    • @g,

      there is a big difference in shooting pro bono, and shooting for free/”gutter credit”.

      i’ll let you ponder the difference

      for what its worth, most highly successful photographers I know have all shot pro bono work as mr. anderson suggests.

  29. I thought the interview great! Many words to live by.
    Thanks Andy and thanks Rob!
    As far as for shooting for free. If you don’t get an image that was worth the shoot, you didn’t do a very good job for anyone.

  30. Great interview and I feel like we got to know Andy a little better.

    I have been a huge fan of his and think he has influenced a generation of shooters like me who have come after him.

    Andy and I used to have the same agent and have talked several times. He is indeed the James Brown of photography. I know of no one who works as hard (whether paid or not) on his craft as Andy. He has an insatiable desire to improve and is always working on a personal project.

  31. Interesting that some of you who are being critical of Anderson’s work fail to put up links to your own work for review. Could it be because you have a lot of imitated artsy fartsy work that doesn’t say anything?

    This is one of the best photographers and interviews that Rob has featured since I’ve been visiting this site. Don’t hate on the man because he found his success in unconventional ways. Instead, try to learn something that you could apply to your own career.

  32. Craig, you are right on. Here is what I’m saying again. Start a dialogue with someone you admire (AD)! Do your homework and pick a cause (World Wildlife Fund, Public Access for Lands, etc!!!) you are passionate about. Then approach them and gauge their interest.

    If you are able to make a love connection then you are off to races and you are working on something you are both happy to be apart of.

    Now you have made a CONNECTION, and I promise you are top of mind and the next time he or she has a project and they you are the right fit then you will be the person who be called and most likely it will be a paying project

    In closing, in the years that I have been in the business, I have met and worked with very, very few questionable people. So get over that, most that I have had the pleasure to work with have been amazing. Remember most are artists and understand the process. They are art directors and have gone to art school, and the art buyers understand and know art and the process.

    Get over they fact that anyone is screwing anyone. Its not a good place to be as a mindset. Be aware, but I believe most people are good.

    • @andy anderson,

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      And you are spot on about not working for a company, but working for people within that company. It’s important to keep those relationships alive and fresh, as in the creative industry, people are always on the move.

  33. @andy anderson,

    Thanks for the clarification, but in all honesty, it really needs to be in the core article, not buried down here. I know you know the difference, but take another look at your words.

    “I also used to shoot a lot of pro bono work back in the day to get into the award books.”

    “…and if that means doing a pro bono project so you can provide an amazing service for a client who can’t afford it but it lands you in the award books then Voila…”

    Does the average reader take that any other way than “pay your dues, work for free”? My point is simply that while you know how to navigate these waters, the people eating up your words do not.

    They will apply the lesson to their own environment, first to build their portfolios (completely free) and then to grow their brand (gutter credit) and then to “get in with” a key player and so forth. Are you really helping?

    I find it interesting that you defend your position by playing the charity card, where is that in the interview? Wouldn’t that be a better message than “client who can’t afford you”?

    While this may seem at odds, I couldn’t agree with you more. What I find to be an egregious oversight, is presuming your audience will understand how *not* to do this.

    • @g, To clarify further, he doesn’t mean go out and shoot a bunch of tacos on white seamless for free to “get in” with someone. Great work with great people for a great cause will get you much farther than a paycheck. FYI, I come from the Andy Anderson School of Photography. I followed his wisdom. It changed my life.

  34. Andy and Rob, thanks for a very informative and interesting piece of information.. now back to scanning technical pan.

    andy, I heard you have over 30 speed graphics. Is this true?

    • @stephen gelb, yes but keep it quiet, my wife is unaware!

  35. Andy and Rob
    Interesting interview. IMHO success, “making six figures a year” is a combination of talent, hard work, contacts and luck. I would do the same thing Andy did if I had the chance. I certainly don’t hold it against him. Life isn’t fair. A lot of very talented photographers don’t make it. I’m established but not making six figures a year. But, I wouldn’t do anything else. I love photography. That’s what I do. I have done things and gone places that never would have happened in other fields. I have no regrets. If your not passionate about photography then you should find another job.

    My two cents
    John F Martin
    San Francisco

  36. I wanted to say thank you for the interview and I loved the comment Andy made about musicians not only playing gigs. It is important to ‘practice,’ and it’s important to pull upon this amazing lighting set up that took you days to figure out, and be able to wow an art director with it by setting it up in a few minutes on the job.
    From what you have said, Andy, it seems like you don’t do any impersonal mailers or emails, is this correct? I’m beginning to think massive adbase emails to thousands of people will win me less jobs that just 10 emails to specific people that you start a real dialog with, even if it’s just to mention you liked an image in a recent issue of their magazine.
    Any other tips for young photographers willing to take the time to make phone calls, emails, even house visits if someone wanted me to? The hard part I find is getting someone to give me that initial chance to just talk to me or look at my book.
    Once again, thanks Rob and Andy!

    • @Christine Blackburne, exactly, exactly. You go girl. Just the process works both ways.

  37. “Because I don’t think it’s the center of the universe”. Classic quote. By coincidence I happened to be perusing Andy’s web site and archives two days ago so it was a pleasant surprise to see this interview come in. Obviously there is a lot that goes into what makes a successful photographer, but Andy’s fast track to success doesn’t surprise me at all. At the end of the day it’s all about the photos. Andy’s got a shitload of incredible and unique images of interesting content that make you stop and look, they invoke an emotional response, and that’s hard to do these days when we are so bombarded with imagery all the time.

  38. Andy, you talk of being a firefighter for 20 years. How much of that time was spent just looking, exercising your vision, and did that play into your work once you started making photographs?

    Great insightful interview and commentary; congrats Andy and Rob.

  39. Lovely and inspiring interview Rob. Andy, thanks for sharing your story. I have been following your work for years and it is nice to finally get a read on the man behind such amazing imagery. I would like to comment on pro bono work. I have shot for free a lot over the last five years for a cause I believed in. I was paid more by the experience and the people I met along the way than what money could ever buy. I guess I have been lucky to have worked with such great people with same mindsets and never even thought of being taken advantage of. I may not have won any addy’s for my images, but i did learn how to carry water on my head and ring a chicken’s neck so we could eat dinner on the assignment. I may not have awards, but I have great stories. I feel there is more to pro bono assignments than portfolio pieces. Just something to think about when a nonprofit requests your services.

  40. Refreshing to hear that one does not need to live/frequently brown-nose in NYC to be a successful photographer.

  41. @ Johnathan Beller – the real story here that’s not being mentioned by Andy or Rob is who did Ray Meeks assist. I remember his early self-promo work were hand-pulled photogravures. I’m certain he didn’t just start out doing photogravures and there’s no way he learned that process on his own. If anyone cares to shine some light here.

    • @anonymous,

      What’s the obsession with Ray Meeks and what does it have to do with Andy’s career or more specifically this interview. If you want to know about Ray’s Career, call him! Why is it up to Rob or Andy to mention or give you the real story on him? I know who he assisted for, and I assisted for Ray, he’s a very creative photographer who thinks outside the box, but it sounds like you want Ray to shoot stuff for your book? Also if you want people to respect your opinion try putting your name on it, Anonymous!

  42. APE: How have you marketed so well living in Idaho?

    Good art directors, art buyer and photo directors will find people.

    I prefer the term “educated and experienced.” No offense, but there seem to be less and less of those around these days. My experience has been many, not all, ADs, ABs and PEs need “confirmation” from their peers before hiring an unknown photographer, especially if the photographer does not live or work in one of the major photography markets. Few (except anonymously over the internet) have an opinion of their own.

    Great interview, great work by Andy Anderson, thank you.

  43. […] of the state today is Ryan Conaty. Why? Because earlier today I was reading a Rob Haggart interview with Andy Anderson who said, “There’s no excuse for photographers not shooting all the […]

  44. Thanks for sharing your insights Andy! I’ve been doing a fair amount of pro-bono work and it’s always paid off down the road. Your comment about the art buyers being your client is spot on, I think so many people forget about that.

    Great images on your site, the Tanzania set is breathtaking.

  45. I’ve always been lured to “idiot sevants.”

    Not just great words to work by but great words to live by Andy.

    Loved the interview. Very insightful.

    I guess I’ll work with you again, B.

    jimmy b

  46. i had an opportunity to work with andy on the Seattle Lottery campaign. and he is an absolute joy to work with/for. hopefully i get to do it again. and hopefully i won’t ever have to :-)


  47. Great interview and comments/responses, thanks!

  48. Fine interview!
    Many thanks Rob and Andy!
    Having read it I once again it was convinced that Russia of the beginning of a way of the civilised photographic market (- if it will take place in general).

  49. […] APE had an interview with Andy Anderson a few months back in which he stresses the importance of getting into award books: [Emerging photographers] need to partner with good art directors and get in the books and if that means doing a pro bono project so you can provide an amazing service for a client who can’t afford it but it lands you in the award books then Voila, you have an amazing calling card to land jobs with. […]

  50. Some one just tweeted this article. I don see a lot of luck in life, I see Gods hand in peoples lives and how he will take them and push them in the direction they need to go if they are willing. I personally think you were blessed in two ways; your wife being used by God and the gifting he gave you to begin with back in the days of going to scholl for journalism. It wasn’t until God gave your wife the inspiration to buy you a camera that you gifting was revealed.

    I too spent life in the Air Force as a Fighter Jet Mechanic. There were life events, 911 change my life, I moved away from aviation and into demoliton. The down turn of the economy and its affects on the construction industry moved me back to what I wanted to with my life in the first place and it has been through the support of my Wife that I am making my way with passion.

    The point of my comments are that God wanted me to see your life and what he as done and what is doing in my life and I will continue with passion and persistance. I want to thnak You and Rob for this article.

  51. love your work…but curious,while serving in the AF as a firefighter were you ever stationed at K I Sawyer afb Michigan?

  52. Hey Andy —
    Don’t ask me why I went to your site to see if you were still in Idah0, but I did, and was surprised to see your site —
    I’m retired from all my jobs and still live in Chicago —
    Collecting all my pensions, I guess —
    I still jog every morning and drink a few brews every night —
    Why? — Becasue I can !
    Anyway if you come thru Chi Town send me a message and I’ll show you my tour of the “Big City” — I only look old !
    Mike Klem —

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