Ladies and gents, I present to you an endangered species: a staff newspaper photographer. The ridiculously talented Mr. Andrews shoots for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and he’s not a freelancer. He is part of the dying breed of staff shooters; breathing rarefied air alongside other survivors of the rampant downsizing plaguing the industry.
But I can see why he remains employed while others haven’t been so lucky: he is highly employable. His photographic chops are well-honed, he possesses an artist’s eye (he paints too), his enthusiasm is infectious, and oh yeah—he does video. As of late he has been doing some very cool video features on local bands, as well as shooting the standard newspaper assignments. Check out some of his work:
His talent for visual storytelling comes through no matter what his chosen medium. For example, the image below was a personal project that he calls People Of Plato. He photographed residents of Plato, Missouri and arranged their images in the pattern of our American flag. And when it came time to frame it, he used wood from a Plato barn that was given to him by the town’s mayor. The entire piece tells a story without a single spoken word. Dude is good at his job, which is why he still has it.
Johnny also has a penchant for luchador masks. A frequent traveler, he procured his first mask on a trip to Mexico some years ago and has since acquired several more. As we shot within the confines of his very cool apartment, he showed me several other artifacts from his rather nomadic life: various cameras, photos by him and his colleagues, paintings he has done, and even a dusty Godzilla figurine he bought in Japan. Which, he says, is harder than you’d think.
Chances are, the next image you see from the Post Dispatch will have come from Mr. Andrews’ camera. And when you see him at one of the many concerts he attends around the city, tell him how much you dug it.
My approach for this shoot was to pretend I was a newspaper photographer profiling Johnny on assignment. I traveled light, tried to take photos that incorporated his environment in order to tell his story, and got out within 90 minutes. This meant bagging several “looks” for my non-existent editor to peruse without wasting a lot of time. Lighting was all on camera or natural light, except for the luchador shots which used a single flash in a Honl grid to light the background and another to light Johnny.
I dunno that I will be applying to shoot for the New York Times any day soon, and I certainly learned a lot from my subject. As usual.
How do you think I did? Leave a comment below.