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Anderson & Low share their advice for emerging photographers

5 February 2018

Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low have been collaborating as “Anderson & Low” since 1990, and have built up an incredible portfolio in their time as some of the most sought after fine art photographers. You'll probably recognise their famous portraits of athletes, which have been exhibited all over the world as well as being the subject of their 2002 book 'Athletes'.

Due to their worldwide success and experience, Anderson & Low have enjoyed worldwide success and we're fortunate to catch up with them to pick their brains for nuggets of brilliant advice for those photographers who are finding their feet and starting their journey into professional photography.

Hi Jonathan and Edwin! First of all, what can you tell us about your work, and specifically the ones you have provided for this interview?

These images really do illustrate the stylistic diversity of our work... one of our hallmarks is the diversity of styles we use, finding the best language for each new project, but that the underlying themes and ideas recur again and again in our work. These include:

- Looking at human endeavour and endurance and using sport as a window onto the human condition (all our athlete projects),
- The "classical ideal" of sport (Athletes, Gymnasts)
- Costume, identity and the projection of persona (Athlete/Warrior, Manga Dreams & Circus), 
- Challenging people's perception, reality versus fiction, the boundaries of photography and people's expectations from looking at photographic images (On the Set of James Bond's Spectre Chrysalis, Manga Dreams and Voyages)


© Anderson & Low - Michael Klim, Swimmer, Australia 

What advice could you give to a photographer who is trying to break out into the industry today?

Be true to yourself and believe in yourself. It's tough out there, but if you have talent and good planning and a bit of luck along the way you can make it. Try not to follow current trends too slavishly, as your work can easily become dated if you do. And remember that technique is not important; you need it, to be sure, but that's not what matters. The only thing that matters is not your technique, but what you MAKE with it!
© Anderson & Low - Dark Mandala from the series Chrysalis

Is there a piece of advice that you wish someone had told you sooner in your careers?

That's impossible to answer - this is not one piece of advice, it's endless... But perhaps if we were to mention one thing it would be that the importance of PR is something that can be underestimated very easily.

© Anderson & Low - From the project Voyages

What have you learned from entering photography awards and competitions in the past?

In one sense awards are by definition an artificial, subjective, and erratic measure by which to judge images. But the process of editing your own work prior to submission can really engender a more rigorous approach - to image-making, to post-production/printing and to editing images (both cropping and also sequencing series of images). It really helps you assess your own work. Also, awards really can make a difference in terms of your visibility. And if you do well, the self-belief that results can be incredibly helpful, especially early on. It is definitely worth entering.


© Anderson & Low - Sky #27 from the project Gymnasts - NDGT

Any piece of advice for someone who maybe isn't sure about entering our Student Awards?

There are four common reasons we have heard for not entering awards:
"I am too busy"
"I'm not sure if I'm good enough yet"
"The work isn't ready yet"
"I can't afford it"

In almost all cases none of them is true. So, we really only have one thing to say: Please, please, stop messing about and stop finding excuses, get the work ready and submit it! It really is a very useful experience to go through, and whether you win or not, going through the process will definitely help your work in the future.

See Anderson & Low's full website here, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram

© Anderson & Low - Untitled (Aqua Boy) from the project Manga Dreams

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