Strong composition would probably be another aspect my viewers notice. I work hard to choose great compositions with leading lines that draw the viewer’s through the frame and emphasize certain areas of each photograph. I think composition is the real foundation of any eye-catching photograph, so it’s something I spend a lot of time ensuring I it get right.
Laurel Fork Pool
Cajun Camp Life
Spanish Valley, Utah
Monument Valley Deadwood
Sunset Over Lake Oahe
Badlands in Contrast
Tellico River Serenity
Moon over Dead Horse Point
Andy Crawford, Photography, Praireiville, LA, USA;
EWW: I am curious to know what qualities of your work would others comment on first?
ANDY: I think the first quality my viewers would comment on is the realism of my photography. My primary goal is to create images that transport my viewers into the scene I have captured, and I think the key is to create images that look real. So I am very careful to avoid filters that create the crunchy HDR-style photos that are so prevalent. That’s not to say I post photos right out of my camera: I absolutely work on every photo I post to my gallery, using a couple of software applications to get the most from every image. However, I don’t want my viewers to realize the photo has been edited: I want them to see my work and feel like they are there and enjoying nature in all of its beauty.
EWW: Several artists have some difficulty in discerning between photography and fine art photography. What are your thoughts about the two types or is there really no distinction?
ANDY: I am fortunate to work in a variety of photography genres. In addition to my fine-art photography, I also shoot business headshots, do a bit of commercial photography and even some sports photography. For me, however, there is a real distinction between those other genres of photography and fine-art photography.
The key distinction is the creative process. Sure, there is room for some creativity when working on business headshots or sports photography, but time constraints and client needs generally limit that aspect of photography.
ANDY: Boiled down to the basics, my biggest challenge is balance. Creating amazing nature photography requires long drives and days spent in the wilds, followed by hours of sorting and prioritizing images, which leads to days of photo editing. And then there’s marketing that never seems to stop, along with managing finances. Did I mention I also have a family?
Nature photography, in my opinion, truly rises to the level of fine-art photography. Capturing the essence of God’s creation requires the ability to see the potential of a scene and present it to viewers in an intriguing fashion. One must survey the entire scene and find the most important aspects to include. Once framing has been determined and the shutter has been tripped, the creative process continues through the use of editing software to create the final look of a photograph. Especially in today’s digital world, we have the ability to really exercise creativity by pulling up or deepening shadows, saturating or desaturating specific colors, removing distracting elements, etc., to create a photograph that makes the viewer stop and study an image. This is the creative process that, for me, defines fine-art photography.
I truly struggle balancing all of those aspects of my life. What I really want to do is spend all my time in the outdoors, creating new work, but it’s just not feasible. So some weeks I lose myself in social media, while other weeks I neglect that vital part of the formula while I sort and edit photos. When I’m on an extended photo trip, I too often put everything else on hold capturing new images. Between trips, I easily lose track of time while sitting at my computer and neglect family time.
I have a wonderful and supportive wife who constantly urges me to maintain balance, but it remains a real struggle.
EWW: What makes a good color print and what makes a good black and white print?
ANDY: Strong composition is the constant, whether a print is presented in color or black-and-white. But I think color prints require more forethought because there is simply more that can be a distraction. I have worked for hours on a color photo without reaching a place that speaks to me, only to convert it to black-and-white and almost instantly see the wow factor.
The great thing about a black-and-white print is that it’s boiled down to shades of gray, so contrast becomes the key component to emphasize the composition. Strong shadows offset highlights that create amazing prints.
With color prints, however, there is the temptation to oversaturate everything in an attempt to let everything stand out, which means nothing stands out. A great color print is one that has a balance between the striking colors and use of highlights/shadows that strengthens the composition.
EWW: You have several galleries such as Swamp, After Dark, Black and White, Southwest, and others. Do you have a favorite? Why?
Andy: That’s a really hard question to answer. The truth is that the diversity of nature is what drives my passion, so I can’t wait to visit new places and regions. I truly believe nature is evidence of a creative and active God, whose work is on display in different ways in different places. So my favorite gallery of images changes depending on what I’m working on at the moment because I get to relive my time outdoors through the images before me.
If really pushed, however, I would probably choose my Swamp collection as my favorite. Those images capture scenes not easily reached, since a boat is usually required. While anyone can jump in a car and drive through the desert Southwest, it takes a lot of effort to tour the amazing Atchafalaya Basin or Lake Maurepas swamp. These amazing wetlands are so mysterious, with lazy bayous, Spanish moss-draped cypress trees and wildlife that capture the imagination. I often work deep in these swamps all day without seeing another person. And I grew up fishing in these swamps, so those images are special to me.
EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there themes that consistently run from one work and gallery to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?
Andy: I work hard to maintain a consistent style defined by strong contrast and bold composition. I make use of highlights and shadows, along with a subtle vignette to pull the eye of the viewer to the focal point of the photo. That holds true no matter what I am shooting.
EWW: Do you think it is important for photographic artists to have their own website, in addition to another gallery they appear on?
Andy: I think it’s vital a photographer have a website that allows more than just a gallery of images. That could mean two separate websites or a combined site. In my case, I have an old website I maintained for years, but I have transitioned everything into one website that holds my online fine-art photography gallery, a blog and other important pages. The key is to create a space for your audience to learn about your work and create a connection to you as an artist. So I have an “About” page that tells my story as a photographer and discusses what drives my passion, and a blog in which I can discuss my trips and latest works. But the star of the show is my gallery that houses all of my fine-art photography.
This really allows one-stop shopping for someone who is interested in me as an artist: They can see all of my work and learn more about me without going to separate sites.
EWW: Do you use social media platforms to market and promote your work? If you do use social media platforms, which one(s) work the best for you?
Andy: I absolutely use social media, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram. I find Facebook works better for generating traffic to my online gallery, since I can add links to my work in each post. Instagram only allows linking in paid ads. That said, I have gained clients through both: For instance, I sold several large prints to a family who discovered one of my swamp prints on Instagram and messaged me.
My goal is to post at least once each day to each of these platforms, and then I will run ads based on the engagement with specific posts. For instance, if a Facebook post attracts a lot of attention from my organic audience, I will create an ad to expand that audience. This has been very effective in building a larger audience for my work.
EWW: Just to wrap up this interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work that you think would be important for others to know about?
Andy: I am passionate about my photography, and love to share my images with others. My happy place is in behind my camera in the wilds of North America, and I truly hope that passion shows in my work. It is always an honor when print is purchased. It is such a thrill to know that I produce photographs others want to hang on their walls. So I invite your readers to browse my gallery and see the world through my camera.