Interview with Andy Feltham

Andy Feltham's distinct style of photography is a marriage of art and exploration. Through his eye for composition, simplicity and light, recently disused spaces, vital (and so often overlooked) infrastructure and neglected corners are bought to beautiful light. By day Andy works in the healthcare sector but often by night, he stalks the undistinguished corners of the central English town of Northampton where he has lived since 2005.

• Andy how did you find your passion for photography?

I've always had an artistic leaning, but it wasn't until my wife bought me an enthusiast compact (Panasonic LX5) as a wedding present that I had found my outlet... I was hooked.

• Who has inspired your photographic style?

Initially, I was drawn to the classic street photographers for inspiration: Bresson & the Magnum Collective, Winogrand etc. Their faultless appreciation of composition & content gave me a great grounding and I still regularly pour over my Magnum books. My favourite photographer however is Edgar Martins. I find his stark landscapes and pioneering use of light to be quite breathtaking.

• How has your work evolved over time?

After a period of getting to grips with composition, I was convinced that street photography was the path I should wander, however I never reached anything approaching a comfort zone when pointing a camera at strangers. My photographic style really crystallised after a trip to New York in April '13. It's hard to say what happened other than something clicked within me in terms of how I previsualised a shot. I also realised about that time that my strengths lay in photographing the inanimate.

• Space, light and composition all play an important roll in your work, when you are evaluating a shot what is the first thing you focus on?

The best advice my mate Mark (MrHeaver on Flickr) gave me was that it's all about "light". It's the quality of the light that first draws me in to a shot. Everything else is secondary to that.

• What is the most important element of your current work?

The vast majority of my current work is part of a series called 'Incidental View'. This is primarily a wide-eyed view of the everyday structures and objects that surround us. I aim to blend a sense of wonderment with a niggling disquiet that hopefully creeps into each image. I guess to answer your question truthfully and simply, the most important element is what would normally be considered a boring subject matter; a wall, a doorway, a plastic bag...

• Are you a planner or opportunist?

A bit of both, but mainly opportunist. My modus operandi tends to be to sling the camera round my neck, pop some headphones on and go for a walk, often for miles... You never know what you'll see!

• Tell me about your next project?

I still feel there is more to be done with Incidental View, and my Urban Exploration project 'Lost Cause'. However I am toying with several ideas at the moment including bringing a portable light to an otherwise dark area and also a series of images where the source of light is the subject but it's implied; it's never seen. For either of these I'll need a really strong image to give me the impetus to carry them through.

• Tell me about your fantasy project?

It would probably be having an 'access all areas' pass in a country where time has stood still. There's a series of images on Redbird Editions by Maxime Delvaux taken in North Korea. I find them utterly captivating. My chosen region would probably be one of the Eastern Bloc countries.

• What is your favourite lens?

When I had my Fuji X-Pro1 it was the XF14mm (21mm equivalent in 35mm terms), now with my Nikon Df it's the 20mm 2.8D. I love the way the ultrawide lenses amplify angles to bring a sense of drama to an image. Pretty much all my fine art work is shot with the 20mm, and I consider it part of my photographic signature.

• What role does post processing play in your work?

In an ideal world, I wouldn't need to post process at all other than a slight dodge and burn here and there. I would prefer not to have to use PP, but the truth is that on some images I do quite a bit to get the desired results. As a rule of thumb I only ever remove distracting elements to give greater clout to the subject matter. I very rarely 'add' anything to a photograph. The impact of the final image is paramount for me however, so I'll do what it takes to get it looking how I want.

• Have you ever been caught sneaking around in a building that you shouldn't be in?

Ha ha, too many times! The security guards have, so far, been largely curteous. On one occasion a site manager called the police but they would't even come because we didn't (and wouldn't!) break in. It all turned out OK and the guy ended up offering us a cuppa...

You can see more of Andy's excellent work on his web site Andy Feltham Photography. Prints of his latest project 'Incidental View' are available from Redbird Editions.

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