Interview with Andy Kirby

One of my favorite street photographers, Andy Kirby, took a few minutes to answer some questions for me! While I'm not a huge street photographer, his work is still inspiring to me. His photos break up the monotony on Instagram and always catch my attention! Be sure to head over to Insta and say hello!

Currently Drinking

A Lot of very pretentious craft beer.

Favorite artistic mediums

Photography and Graphic design, especially typography and of course music.

Gear of choice

Fujifilm X-T2. I caught the Fuji bug just over a year ago and incredibly it changed the amount and way I shoot. How a camera can do that I’ve no idea.

Where are you located

London born and bred!

What inspired you to start shooting?

I had a Canon T70 as a child, which was actually my parents camera but they never really used it. Something about photography floated my boat from very early on. However I didn’t take it seriously until university where photography played a bg part in my design degree. Back in those days digital cameras were very rare and very useless, so it was all film and darkroom work, which I absolutely loved.

Are you self taught or have you gone to school?

Mostly self taught, besides a little hand holding at university. A camera is a simple tool which anyone can learn to use, what an individual sees is where the magic happens, so I’d say everyone to a degree is self taught in any creative endeavour, as it’s such a personal thing. Nowadays there is so much information freely available. I often google tutorials and tips on certain aspects of photography and of course there is so much interesting work out there for inspiration. One of my favourite things to do is to see how other photographers have photographed the same locations. That's a very interesting way of understanding and learning how other people see differently to yourself.

All of your photos look very cinematic and realistic. It’s kind of like a 3D image in way.

What’s your editing style like?

O have a very simple editing style, based around a preset I’ve developed over the last few years. There really isn’t any big secret to post, other than less is more. I think every photographer who shoots digital at some point falls into the trap of over processing their images. Especially early on when you have all these toys to play with and you don’t know how to control them. My aim when processing is to increase the drama of an image without making it look overworked. Most of my images are processed in under a minute, it’s very quick once you’ve established the feel you’re looking for.

How much time to you devote to walking around, looking for good photos?

I try to spend at least one day a week, usually on the weekends. I live and work in London and always have my camera on me, so often I will have a quick wander for 30mins whilst waiting for the train. It all adds up and I find I have a huge backlog of photos to process. I walk everywhere when possible which means I have a lot of opportunity to see and shoot interesting moments.

You have a lot of people on their phones , completely oblivious to getting their photo taken. I love pictures like that. It always reminds me to be a little more mindful and present to what’s happening around me. What have you noticed the most when people watching?

To be honest I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to street photography, especially photographing people. You have to be quite brave and confident, which is something that comes with time and practice. Often if I see someone who is absorbed in something else, for example their phone, I’ll often take a shot knowing they won’t be aware. The best street photographers are fearless and their photos benefit hugely from it. If you’re fearless then you will put yourself in positions where some incredible street photography can happen.

Do people often catch you taking their photo? Do you get mostly positive or negative reactions? Funny stories?

Recently I’ve been a little more brazen when photographing people and I’ve been caught a few times. I think in London people are too busy to care or they understand they’re in a big city and there can be no presumption of privacy in a public space. If I’m ‘caught’ I simple smile and continue on my way, I’ve not had any negative reactions yet, but I’ve heard stories from other photographers, mostly it’s just bad luck to catch someone on an off day who takes issue. I have however had plenty of issues with security guards who don’t understand the law and question my intentions, this is something you have to accept, especially in the current climate in London and any large city.

Who are some people that influence your style?

This is a tricky one. I couldn’t say anyone in particular and generally the photographers I lean towards have very different styles to mine. I’d say the real influence other photographers have on me is getting the shots I struggle with, or seeing a scene completely different to me. Often I’ll stand in a location and try to consider how another photographer would shoot it? What shots would they walk away with? I find this helps to push and inspire me. Two absolute must follows for me are Josh Jack and Six Street Under because they are fearless in their pursuit of that great street photo.

Do you take photos full time? If not, what’s your day job?

Ha, I wish! I’m a co-founder of Vape Shoreditch which as you can imagine takes up most of my time. It does however give me plenty of opportunity to take photos for the business and it’s social media channels, etc.

Where do you want your photo career to take you?

It would be great to get to a point where brands would like to work with me, this is something that appeals to me as everyone wants to get paid doing something they love. Outside of that I simply want to continue to develop as a photographer. I’ve noticed over the past year or two my photography has changed a great deal and I think it’s a big improvement, so I’m working to continue that.

I love the Christmas picture with bulbs in your beard. Can we look forward to more beard decor? =]

Ha, I would love to get into portrait photography, so I do take the occasional self portrait. The beard baubles were a joke present from my girlfriend and I wanted to show her just how good they looked… I haven’t heard from her since ;-)

Joking aside, yes absolutely. I like to mess about and that’s something I like to show from time to time in the form of a silly selfie, so there is undoubtedly more silliness to come.

What character on Friends would you be?

Oh, uhm… Monica, as I’m a clean freak and a little OCD.

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