Andrew Macpherson’s decade long career as a fashion photographer developed into a love for the entertainment industry. His portfolio contains all the big shots. Charlize Theron, Dustin Hoffman, Anna Paquin, Jessica Biel, P!NK and Nikki Minaj are just a few. Read about his transition from fashion to entertainment here.
When Andrew Macpherson pops up in the Skype window it is 6.30 AM in Los Angeles and the sun is slowly rising. Dressed in his robe with a cup of coffee in his hand, he starts sharing his story.
“Lighting really is one of my great passions,” says Andrew. “When I was working in fashion, I was particularly known for my studio lighting. I used to fly from London to Paris to New York to take pictures on a white background. It was an amazing thing to do, to be a fashion photographer in your 20’s. It’s a fantastic job. The only job that’s better is to be a rock n roll superstar and I got to work with a lot of those as well!”
“I think some of the best photography in the world is fashion photography,” Andrew continues. “I really have a huge love for it. But I didn’t really love the business of fashion photography. You put so much time and care and effort into your pictures but next month, they’re in the trash can. There’s no history in fashion photography, not really.”
“In entertainment, on the other hand, the people you’re photographing are the icons of our time. The movie stars, the musicians. For all of us, we remember the music we first kissed to, you know. The music is so important in our lives. Looking at the old fashion pictures, they just looked dated. But when you look at a picture of an actor or a musician, it’s a part of our history and our culture.”
Walking down the stairs to his basement studio, he gives a salute to an Irving Penn image on the wall. “That’s my hero. Had to have one of his pictures in the house”, he says.
Recently Andrew had a book release; 10 years with P!NK. “It was actually 12 years but after the movie 12 years a slave I didn’t want to say 12 years with P!NK…”, he says. “We’ve done 6 albums together, and the book goes through each album. It’s fun for me to go on the road, because you know, I did the stage lighting at school and the lighting they do for these concerts is unbelievable. And working with P!NK is totally a blast, she’s an amazing person and such a great performer in every way.”
What are the most important factors for you to get the shot that you want?
“Definitely, it’s the connection with the subject. Every shoot is like finding a dancing partner. You have to be in sync with the person you’re shooting, you have to figure out how they want to dance.”
“So when I’m shooting, I just try to make the day as enjoyable as possible for the person I’m shooting. What would make the day better for them? Whether there are little things, whether they’re coffee drinkers or tea drinkers, or what music they want to hear, if they want to bring their animals to work. You know, be open to everything. Remember that every model that you’re photographing could be arriving at your studio after an argument with their partner or being in road rage on their way to the studio or something like that, so be sensitive to the person that you’re photographing. Always make the day about them, not about you. Looking good is feeling good.”
“Also, you should have planned so that whatever you decide to do in the moment of the connection, you have the equipment ready on hand to do whatever you want to. Profoto gear is amazingly reliable, which is something I appreciate. So the preparation is to have everything ready for what you want to do. I never have an idea which I am set to or stick to, I’m always very flexible. And I like to be flexible, because the magic is always in the moment and you have to be prepared and able to do anything. That’s how you catch the magic.”
What advice would you give to the people that want to learn how to photograph like you?
“The secret is to be aware of that we are in a time of change in the media, and I think the change that we’re seeing, when we look back in history, will be as great as the change from lithography to photography. Today, I feel like this digital revolution is going to change that, and I think the most important thing in the future is going to be directing and editing. I think that if I today was going to be a photographer, I would learn to be a director first and foremost.”
“I honestly believe that I might be in the last generation of life-long photographers. Don’t think that what you saw somebody do in the past is going to be what will happen in the future. Look at how people are receiving content and mark it your work and your talent to that content creation stream.”
Last but not least, if you were to pick just one image to represent your work for coming generations, which one would it be?
“I love making the pictures, I love creating the pictures. But once they’re finished, they’re in the past. The past doesn’t interest me that much. And so the picture that is the most interesting to me is the one I’m going to take tomorrow. That’s what makes it so exciting being a photographer.”