SmugMug Corner #10: Andy Williams

If you stayed up late last night waiting for SmugMug Corner #10, I apologize. I didn't get the complete interview until 10pm last night. ;) Blame Andy, not me. But trust me, it's well worth waiting for. This week we meet Andy Williams, the General Manager and House Professional at SmugMug...

Name: Andy Williams

Tell us a little about yourself.

Andy Williams, 45, New York. I’m General Manager and House Professional at SmugMug.

[ed. short and to the point!]

What is your background/training in photography?

Self-taught, for the most part. In the past several years, I’ve learned from and been influenced by thousands of teachers, and fellow photographers, courtesy of the internet.

How long has photography been a passion for you? When, where and how did it start?

Practically my entire life. Below is a self-portrait, taken at age 8 :) When I was 12, I began working at the local camera store, selling cameras and film. The owner taught me to develop black and white film, and then to make contact sheets. I was hooked! My Pentax K1000 was a standard feature on my neck for a long time.

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Self Portrait

What equipment is in your camera bag? What piece of equipment will be added to the collection next?

I shoot Canon. It’s funny - I used to be such a gear collector! I used to have gobs of glass, primes and zooms... over time, I’ve simplified my kit, and I’ve only got stuff that I actually use all the time. Right now, I shoot with Canon 1Ds Mark II, and Canon 5D bodies, and my mainstay glass is Canon’s 24mm Tilt-Shift, which I use for my landscape work. After that, I rely on Canon’s 16-35L MkII and 24-105L IS and 70-200 f/2.8L IS. I have a Canon 50mm prime that I love! But without a doubt, the most used is my 24mm TS. I find it so useful for landscapes, I shoot a lot of panoramas, utilizing Really Right Stuff’s Pano gear and ball head. The other critical piece of my gear is a Gitzo 2530 Tripod.

I’m a big fan of shooting infrared, it’s a great creative outlet for me, and it’s awesome to be shooting in the middle of the day in high, bright sunshine and getting gorgeous images :)

When shooting portraits, my first choice, given the amount of room I have to work with, is my 70-200L.

Next up? I expect to be shooting with a Canon 1Ds Mark III very soon :)

What are your favorite places/subjects to photograph? Why?

Landscapes, people, and street. I love getting out to places like Yosemite, Shenendoah, Glacier, Zion National Parks. Staying there and trying to find the scenes that are just a bit out of the ordinary. I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of composing a photograph in places that are just jaw-dropping gorgeous - sure you can shoot a postcard shot but to me, the challenge is, making an image that people say, “wow, I was there and I never saw it that way!”

I love to work with people - either street photography or pure portraiture. To me, it’s a real challenge to meet someone new, and then work with them to bring out something about them in a photograph.

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 2

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 3

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 4

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 5

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 6

Who are your biggest photographic influences? Why? What about their work influences your work?

No doubt I’ve been influenced by many of the greats: Rowell and his beautifully saturated landscapes. Marc Muench, most recently, has been a huge influence on me, so much so that I’ve teamed up with him doing photography workshops.

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 7

My street hero is Elliott Erwitt. I absolutely love his work, and when I’m out pursuing my creative passion on the streets of New York, I find myself trying to emulate him. For people and portraits, Douglas Kirkland has been a strong influence.

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 8

How long have you been Smug with your photographs? What features do you most enjoy with your SmugMug account?

Since early 2003, not long after SmugMug started out. For me, the ability to display my work in SmugMungous sizes, gorgeous online galleries and no-brainer print fulfillment solution, these are key features for me. And the service. Not surprisingly, it was SmugMug’s customer service that got me hooked - way back when - I had a boo-boo on my website customizing, and Chris MacAskill reached out to me, and sorted me out in no time. From that moment on, we began a friendship, and then not long after that I became an advisory board member. We stayed in touch, and then in 2005, the time was right for both me and SmugMug, for me to join full-time, as General Manager and House Professional.

If you had do sum up in 50 words or less the impact SmugMug has made on your photography/photography business, those 50 words would be...

I’ve found my work/life nirvana! I’m in photography full-time, helping other pros, mentoring people, helping run the business as well. And I get to shoot :) I’m part of a group of passionate people who are devoted to photo-sharing and helping our customers. Bliss!

SmugMug Corner: Andy Williams - Photograph 9

If you had to give one piece of advice to those wanting to pursue photography, what would you tell them?

Rules Schmules! Don’t be afraid to bend the rules, push the envelope, try something new.

Posted by Tim L. Walker on Sat, 2007–11–10 13:38
Categories: SmugMug Corner