Please introduce yourself: What is your name, where are you from, what do you do?
Hello! My name is Andy and I live in the market town of Northampton, UK. By day I work at my local hospital as a clinical educator. I come home to my beautiful wife, two charming little monsters and a whippet called Woody.
What is your relationship with photography? How did you get into it?
The obsession started in 2010 when my wife bought me a point and shoot as a wedding present. Since then photography has become many things to me, but most importantly it is an anchor whether the sea is choppy or calm.
What do you think triggers you to photograph in a certain moment? Is it planned or solely driven by intuition?
What draws me into any scene is almost always intuition. My modus operandi is typically to put on a comfy pair of shoes and go explore. Because of the nature of how I work, the starting point is usually the only planned part of the process. Where I find this method is flawed is when I get to a crossroads… if I turn left, will I miss something compelling to the right?!
What is the story you want your pictures to tell?
They can be read in the literal sense, but I hope that the viewer might also draw a personal metaphor from an image. The static, people-less scenes I frame are intended to scrutinise the human condition and convey a sense of emotion. I want to capture a feeling of wonderment at the world around us, but married with a niggling undertone that something is not quite right.
Which city would you like to visit the most and why?
Essentially I’m a nosey person, so anywhere that I’m not allowed to go strongly appeals to me. With that in mind, I would sell a minor organ to be able to photograph in Pyongyang.
Tell me about your project «In Vivo». What was your intention, and how did you come up with the Idea?
Unfortunately, last year my wife was diagnosed with a grade 3 breast cancer. There are three grades, and 3 is associated with the worst outcomes. I’m pleased to say she’s doing well and prognosis looks very favourable, so as a family we are trying to move on and looking for ways to capitalise on the difficulties of a truly horrific year.
Over the course of the year, the creation of the series was my way of dealing with the most grueling time of my life to date. Throughout the work there are many motifs for cancer, and the aftershocks it produces. Genuinely, I’m not sure how I’d have faired without photography to release some of the immense pressure in my head.
Which project did you never finish?
My ongoing project, Lost Cause, which documents forgotten derelict spaces is set to continue as long as there are decaying buildings with increasingly easy access (I can’t climb like I used to.)
What is that one place you have never managed to photograph at and which is now forever gone?
There have been numerous potential leads for derelict sites only to find the bulldozers have turned up just before we did.
If you could travel back/ forth in time, what advice would you give your younger/ older self?
Younger… pick up the camera earlier. And don’t care what others think. Older… don’t put the camera down. And maybe care a little what others think.
What do you prefer saying: to take a photograph or to make a photograph and why?
I know Ansel Adams said, «you don’t take a photograph, you make a photograph…» and whilst I get the point, I think I’m fairly ‹take / make agnostic›. But if I had to put my money down I’d say a slight leaning towards ‹take›. ‹Make› perhaps sounds a little pretentious in my head, especially given the way I work.
Asking you to single it out, what was the most interesting experience you have had while photographing?
I’m constantly surprised at the doors that become unlocked by having a camera. I’ve experienced things that I never would’ve done without that little black box in my hands. I’ve been shooting on a live runway, on the roof of a hospital, at a pigeon fanciers convention, the list goes on. I recently achieved a long-term ambition of mine which was to shoot in a power plant control room… it was also derelict but barely vandalised so I was in total dreamland.
If it wasn’t for photography, what would you be interested in doing instead?
In the past I have had obsessions with other creative outlets, most notably guitar, and have thrown myself so fully into these passions that there is no room in my life for other pursuits. A good friend of mine, rather cruelly, calls them fads! However it is fair to say that previous means of expression haven’t engaged me on the same emotional level, or for as long as photography, and it feels like I’ve finally found what I was looking for. I cannot now imagine a life without it and all that it offers me.
Please, describe one of your pictures to a blind person.
Like an empty stage where the actors are about to enter or have just left… and I just said ‹make a photograph› sounded pretentious :)
What are you currently working on, and — if there is — what is your next project/ journey?
I have very recently wrapped up a two year project about my take on a small corner of the UK’s National Health Service. The series, entitled Picture of Health, documents the increasing difficulties of providing safe healthcare in an environment where financial cuts have been a way of life in recent years. It was a rare privilege to have such open access to a healthcare organisation so now I need to decide what the next steps are with the work… any ideas? :)
Thank you very much, Andy!
© Andy Feltham