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Interview with Andrew Houser

Funnily enough it wasn’t through Andrew’s “glamour” work that I came across him. It was his landscapes. His portraiture work I found after digging a bit deeper.

Andrew Houser
Andrew Houser

Tell us a little about yourself?

6’2, Libra, fond of…. ow wait…. different interview altogether. Not too terribly much to tell. From a small little town in the Western Hills of Maine (New England, USA. North of Boston, for those not from the States). I moved to the ocean part of the state where I live after graduating school and have loved being by the sea since. I picked up a camera after high school – couldn’t make arse-end of it. Film. Not the easiest learning medium, in a solo pursuit. Then came digital, and I was hooked. I’ve had a camera in hand for about 7 or 8 years now, I think. I did lots of landscape photography to start. Lived in London for a bit and travelled the lovely British isle and surrounds before returning home, where I eventually took up portraiture as a primary pursuit.

What made you get into photography?

Bassett hounds, if we’re to be honest. And let’s face it, we’re nearly best friends by now. I grabbed a small digital camera to photograph my beloved dogs. As a graphic designer, I figured I could shoot some of my own stock photos for websites and such. Where it took me, though… wow!

How did you get started?

I bought a Canon Rebel EOS (the original ones… marketed by Andre Agassi back in the day). I loved black and white, but the delay time between taking a shot, seeing the shot, and figuring out exactly what I had done or not done to totally bung up the shot was frustrating. Imagine – no EXIF data!! Working in IT when I bought my first digital camera, I was more than happy to get out of the office and use my camera as an excuse. Travel time to and from the office became longer and longer as I explored the natural surrounds for the next great landscape photo opportunity.

When I was leaving London and coming back to the states, I was starting to get into portraiture and artificial light. I had a couple model shoots in London and continued to explore the realm back home. I graduated from small flashes, to studio strobes, and from a home studio to a proper rented studio where I now operate.

What sort of photography do you mainly do?

Well, oddly enough, most people either know me for my landscape work or my portraiture. And in truth, I love doing both, though the long winters in the NorthEast means I spend more time in my studio than out shooting scenics. My portraiture could be called “glamour”. Personally, I prefer to think of it as just beauty. Sometimes creative. Sometimes simple. Ah… who likes to be labeled?

What gear are you using?

Ah yes… the gear-heads. I shoot with a Nikon D700 as my primary camera. Wonderful piece of kit. Full frame will change the way you shoot, and it’s a fraction of the cost of the D3. I’ve got the 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, 20mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.8 (yes… cheap one. And it’s lovely). I thought about getting the Nikkor trifecta (would need to add the 14-24mm), but that new 16-35mm f/4 has caught my attention. Also hanging about are a Canon 5D MKII with the 24-70mm and the 85mm f/1.2, Nikon D200, Nikon D70s, Nikon F100 (film), Canon 40D with 60mm macro, various Holgas. Because you never can have enough.

Whats your favourite lens and why?

Personally, I find it hard to say. I shoot with the 24-70mm a lot, although sometimes I like to get up close to my subject and throw on the 50mm. If I had to pick only one, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 would be my choice. Sharp, sharp, sharp. I don’t use the Canon 5d MKII too often, but likewise, the 85mm f/1.2 is pretty cracking on that one. I just find the thing is quite heavy, and the magic of that lens is the <2.8 zone but down there your plane of focus is razor thin on that lens. Great bokeh though, if you can nail it.

How are you marketing yourself?

I don’t. I’m a hermit. I’m like a treasure if you can find me. If not, you probably won’t even miss it.

Whats your favourite photo you have taken?

Oh man… seriously? Could you pick just one of your own? It’s like trying to pick your favorite kid. Nah, that’d be easier.

Pigeons of Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden are really meaningful ones to me, although they rarely engender such feelings from others. What I love about Covent Garden is that there appears to be a young girl waiting for someone to come off the tube. The exposure is 5:13, so that young girl stood there, nearly motionless, agains the sea of people traveling through this very busy part of London.

Waterfall I love just for the sheer luck of it. I had this idea for how to do a water shot in my home studio (but NOT in a shower). I set this up, and this was one of the very first frames. It worked, and I got very lucky.

Bejeweled is a seemingly simple shot, but one which took a lot of patience and time to set up. I have seen others attempt to replicate it, but this model and I have a creative chemistry that’s kind of unique.

Honestly, I have so many favorites for so many different reasons. I have an entire set I shot last time I was in London with a model named Katie. They’re NSFW, so I won’t include them, but they are some of my favorites as well. Katie is a brilliant model and it was like perfect image frame after frame.



Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?

Oh boy. There’s a loaded question. And I read through a number of your prior interviews to see if I could add something new to the pot.

I think if I had to add my two bits I’d say learn it all. Not try to shoot it all, but learn all those little aspects of your business. And when you don’t know something, or don’t feel strong in an area, go dive in there. Learn how to shoot. Then learn how to light. Learn how to work with people (or animals, or commune with woodland nymphs… whatever). Learn post-production. Learn marketing. Learn accounting. Learn suppliers, prop shops, studio rentals, etc. And once you’ve learned it all, go back again, because you’ve gotten rusty on something. About the time you master studio lighting, you’ll find that you’re not as on point with natural lighting anymore. You always need to push. There are no “days off”. But if you’re doing what you love, you’ll end up happier in the end.

Visit Andrew Houser – website, flickr and facebook

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