Andrew Stone is a dedicated Yorkshire-based photographer who proudly champions the alternative arts, fashion and music through his outlet of Black Orchard Photography. We chat with him about his career, inspirations and future plans.
“I feel most comfortable around people who stray away from normality”
S] What keeps you inspired as a photographer?
AS] I’ve always been a creative person, from studying art at school to design and photography at college so it’s a way of life for me. I have to be creative every day or I go crazy! I have a passion for dark and gothic imagery and the wonders of nature, particularly woodland and the effects of decay as mother nature takes back what’s hers on abandoned buildings and structures. Give me an old broken down building in a woodland setting with a great model to photograph and I’m a happy man!
S] Obviously you have a dark and gothic niche and have had some success working within that – can you explain the positives and negatives of working within that genre?
AS] The positives far out weigh the negatives in my opinion. I live for my art and my style is alternative so it’s just what I do. I love to create images which stand out and ask questions, make people think a little and hopefully have a story behind them. I’ve grown up in bands and the ‘alternative’ community and I feel most comfortable in the company of people who have also chosen to stray from the path of normality and be ‘different’ in which ever way they can, be-it their choice of music or style of dress or taste in art and movies. There really is only one negative – it’s bloody hard to make any money from talking photos in this genre!
S] On a similiar note, is it a challenge to move from that style to working on weddings and other forms?
AS] I occasionally do family portraits and weddings in order to pay the bills but my heart lies with my alternative, conceptual work. I don’t find it difficult as such to move from one style to the other, I just don’t get the same satisfaction from taking ‘normal’ photos!
S] How would you advice others looking to make a career out of photography up north?
AS] Good luck. It’s difficult to make a career in photography anyway, but especially so in the alternative scene – as I have found out over the last five years! Learn your craft well, know your equipment inside out, develop your own style and just keep trying to get better with each shoot you do. I imagine working nearer London could possibly help make the right contacts quicker but I’m a northern lad and proud and up here we’re used to doing things the hard way! A happy and content artist just doesn’t have the same fire in his belly. We need to have trauma and to struggle to make our best work!
S] How will your aims and goals for your business change in 2011?
AS] My aims are going to stay the same – to keep getting better with each shoot and push my work out to as many people and places I can in order to boost the Black Orchard profile and hopefully secure more prestigious commissions.
S] What are some of your most exciting plans for next year?
AS] I’m developing Black Orchard into a brand and will be launching a range of clothing and merchandise next year plus I intend to arrange my first exhibition in 2011. I already sell prints of my work online and I want to push this side of my business more next year as well as make more of my stained glass and steampunk inspired pieces. Hopefully it will be a busy and prosperous year!
S] Tell us about your stained glass work and how the inspiration is different with this, in contrast to your photography?
AS] I live to be creative and also I have a need to keep my mind active with fresh challenges so I have a range of crafts which I can ‘dip’ into when I feel the need for something a little different to inspire me. Stained glass has been a passion for about nine years now and I would like to do a lot more given the time. I like to use symmetry and I gain inspiration from nature to create my stained glass pieces which are mainly flowers and leaves. I have plans to combine my love of stained glass with steampunk so watch this space for all new creations in 2011!
S] And what about your prop-making? You recently made a steampunk guitar?
AS] I’ve been a guitarist for 22-years and I’ve often made my own guitars out of scrap parts so it came naturally to create a steampunk-inspired guitar after discovering the style early last year. I have also made face masks, crowns, full head pieces and goggles in the steampunk style, all of which I sell on Etsy under the name Black Orchard Designs. If I need a prop for a particular concept shoot then I trawl the second hand markets or junk shops for bits and come back to my workshop to create what I need. I rarely buy anything new!!
S] As a photographer, how do you feel working out of Huddersfield, do you feel pressured to move to London or “bigger areas” at all?
AS] I feel no pressure to move to London or anywhere else. My family is my priority in life and I intent to stay in Huddersfield for them. In this information age, the whole world is accessible and as my work is almost 100 per cent digital there’s no reason why I can’t base my empire here in Yorkshire! I prefer to stay up here and travel if required.
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