Interview: Photographer Neil J Tandy (New York)
Tell us something about yourself
I am a 55 year old professional photographer who was born in England and grew up there, then moved to South Africa, where I lived for 24 years, working as an electrical engineer, before moving to Long Island, New York in 2011 to follow my passion for photography and pursue it as a career, albeit fairly late in life.
How and when did you get into photography?
I got my first camera at around age 12 in maybe the Summer of 1972, when I exchanged a tape recorder for a little Kodak instamatic so that I could take photos on a family holiday to the South of France. That ignited a passion that has never left me.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I think that I have developed my style directly from the days when I shot film, I try to connect with my subjects and portray emotion. I like to experiment with lighting and often in the studio, will go with an edgier, harder light, exploring shadows and contrast, often with black and white in mind as a final image. I like my photos of males to show them as masculine and rugged, I portray the beauty in females, but will also bring out the edgier side of them if I can.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a way of life for me, an all consuming passion. If I am not in the studio shooting, I will be outside making photos in nature or urban landscapes, or I will be watching videos about the greats of the art that inspire me, or tutorials on editing techniques.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I gain inspiration from many sources, from photographers that I admire and respect, such as Albert Watson, David Bailey, Steven Meisel, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino Irving Penn and many others, from the many online resources available today that allow us to feed our creativity and indeed, from my own imagination. I may gain inspiration from a style of architecture, or a period of fashion history, maybe even from the clothing being used in a shoot.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
I form a basic idea of what I am looking for, a general loose concept, but then I allow my shoots to develop organically as the session progresses, exploring what the model has to offer and often looking into the subject to draw out what they may not see or know. Of course, with runway, that is not always possible, but there I go in thinking of how I can use the available lighting and staging to create photos that are maybe a little different to “normal runway shots”
Studio, on location or both?
Both – most of my work since 2013 has been studio, I love being able to control light to suit my needs, but I will often shoot on location, especially for editorial style work.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I have been a paid professional for 6 years, but I retain a lot of the hobbyist traits and will shoot for myself when I am able to find time, I will take my camera and go out on my own to shoot purely for pleasure.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
That is very difficult to answer, as every session leaves it’s own mark, leaves it’s own memories, some good, some bad. I think the worst session ever was when 2 families came into the studio, 8 people for a shoot with 2 children, the parents were not pleasant to have around! As far as great sessions, I have had many, including a shoot at New York Fashion week Spring/Summer 2018 in September of this year, when I, along with other photographers, was flown by helicopter to the show destination.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
A burning ambition to succeed and to be recognized among the World’s best photographers as well as an insatiable desire to improve all of the time and never accept anything less than the best I can give.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I use Canon, but do not get drawn into the debate – Canon suits how I like to shoot, the controls are easy to adjust on the fly and I like to do that without having to think about it. I have 2 or 3 lenses I love – my Canon 85mm f/1.8 my Canon 70-300 f/2.8 IS3 and strangely, a fully manual Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 ultra wide angle, simply because the optics are so bad at times, that it produces some off the wall results.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
DON’T!! Seriously though, these days, being a pro photographer is incredibly difficult, the financial rewards are becoming smaller by the day as more people load the internet with readily available iPhone images and poorly shot images from DSLRs, or offer their services at next to nothing or free. Hard work, dedication, a constant desire to improve are of utmost importance as well as being a top customer service person and often, a psychologist, when clients with self esteem problems come along, as they often do. Patience and tolerance are also key, especially when dealing with difficult or demanding clients.
What do you think of our new magazine? I LOVE it!! When Peter offered me the chance to be interviewed, after having a photograph featured in a model’s portfolio and interview, I jumped at the chance. The quality of work being showcase is incredible, this is a magazine that should be on the subscription list of every serious photographer throughout the world.
Website is www.neiltandy.com
Instagram is @neil_tandy
Model Sara Jayne
Model Rustam Freeman
Model- Petra Pennington
Model - Sara Jayne
Model - Petra Pennington
Model - Rustam Freeman
Model Nelly Munoz
Model Collin LeMay
Model Petra Pennington