Andy Price’s photography is an incandescent exploration of colour, tone and form. His subjects range from designer watches for Esquire Magazine to cleaning products for Refinery 29, each frame is representative of his playful creative voice and imagination. He lives and works in London.
You describe yourself as a ‘Still Life Photographer’. After seeing your work I would consider you to be a ‘Sculptor’. Would you agree with that?
Yes, I would. I chose to be a ‘Still Life Photographer’ because I am a commercial practitioner. In a way it is more marketable. I studied an art-based photography bachelors degree at Falmouth so I came from that kind of background. At the time, I was into Peter Fischli, David Weiss and sculpture in general. They made some famous videos, such as ‘The Way Things Go.’ There was a Honda advert with a kinetic sculptor, which was heavily influenced by that work.
Were you always drawn to still life photography?
No, I was taken by straight documentary photography at first. I was really into Paul Graham and I still really like his work. Martin Parr was another big influence. From there, I got into the more conceptual photographers – Adam Broomberg, Oliver Chanarin and the Düsseldorf School of Photography. I liked a documentarian approach but I hated talking to people. Doing any kind of portrait work I felt needed that sort of interaction. So, I ended up taking lots of pictures of junk on the street and more sculptural subjects that were out and about. Towards the end of my degree, I started making objects to photograph.
There’s some overlap between your commercial and personal projects. Is the process much the same?
It hasn’t always been but they are similar. It took a while to earn that kind of independence. Clients will want their product featured but can also be quite open about the final outcome. Sometimes I will make a mood board. I haven’t had a client be too prescriptive yet. I imagine if I was shooting for Apple, they may be more particular. I’m at a level where the freedom to be creative is still there.
There’s a lot of precision and control to produce photography in this genre. Is this a part of your style?
Up to a point, yes. There are some things that I am quite chill about and others not so much – something will not feel right and I will have to keep tweaking it to find the right angle or shape. It’s just a feeling. I never sketch anything beforehand. I might have an idea in mind, and early in my career, I would stick to it. Now I have managed to let go and just find the shot that I am looking for. What will be will be.
What is your preferred choice of camera and equipment?
I’ve always worked digitally. My Sony Alpha 7R III is small and the image is always sharp. I like the ultra-crisp look that digital brings to still life. If you are shooting an everyday object, it can elevate it and show details that may not be otherwise seen. Even the most mass-produced object has had to be designed and manufactured – there is an imprint of humanity somewhere. Normally, I manually focus. I use a 90mm Macro lens. There are times that I will focus stack a shot and software will make sure that I have sharpness from the back to the front of the frame.
The theme of this issue is Play. Do you feel that the production of a set is like putting a puzzle together?
Yes. 100%. When I didn’t have a studio space, I was working spontaneously around my house. Now I have a studio, I feel like I’ve made an environment where I can go and play without any expectation. I will go in, position the lights, put the table up, move objects around and just build from there. There is an element of DIY to it. A lot of the techniques that I use I picked up assisting. I found the rigging of sets and how you put them together more interesting than the actual outcome. For example, the watch might have been boring but the way that it was held in place by fishing wire and everything else was fascinating. Going further back, I was always into engineering, trains and things like that. My dad was a mechanical engineer. He was very practical and that influenced me for sure.
When you collaborate with a set designer does that bring a degree of play to a production?
Saskia Martindale and I worked together on a shoot where we didn’t pre-plan and only used leftover props from other projects. We wanted to see what would happen. The series was called ‘Two Times Twice’ because we had used the items twice and made them into stacks next to each other.
There’s a playful tone to your photography. If you were commissioned to make something darker, would you accept it?
No, It’s not what I’m drawn to and I wouldn’t be very good at it. I want to have fun. My motto is, ‘Just have fun with it!’
The book ‘Waves’ was made with Jake Kenny. You complement each other well. How did that opportunity come about?
We met at university, and studied and lived together. We’ve been mates for twelve years, so we complement each other. We’ve been trying to do a collaborative project for as long as we’ve known each other. My early work resembles his aesthetic. It was really fun because he went out and did his documentary thing. Then I riffed off the shapes and structures of those images. Jake and I both interned at ‘Self Publish Be Happy’ then there was a big boom in self-publishing. Editing the website was great. We saw so many photo books.
Do you have any future projects coming up that you can talk about?
I’ve kind of been getting into making music. That has had an effect on my practice in a way. I’ve got into remixing past projects to give them new meanings. It has made me want to go back to old portfolio prints and rework them – cut them up or do something physical. I really relate to my studio mates Luke + Nik. I really respect their creativity and managing to fuse the personal and commercial together in an inspiring way.
In this issue we feature photography and writing that explores Play through playful processes of photography, play therapy, nightlife, performance and identity, collaboration, virtual realities, and war play.
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