Hi Andrew, please introduce yourself
Hi everyone, my name is Andrew Peacock and I photograph adventure travel images at locations across the globe. I’m an outdoors athlete, always on the move, exploring this incredible planet we need to take better care of. My other ‘career’ is as a medical doctor specializing in expedition and wilderness medicine. The wanderlust for travel hit me early on in life and I know how important having fun and enlightening travel experiences are for so many of us in Australia. I love creating images to help tell the story of my adventures on the trails, rivers and oceans in places like Nepal, Antarctica and the USA and then sharing them as inspiration for you to wonder, to learn and to travel and explore. I hope you enjoy them.
What defines your photography style?
My images are bold and colorful informed by a well-considered composition and perspective. I shoot outdoors using primarily natural light and aim to capture the landscapes, lifestyle, culture and people of the world of adventure travel. I’m always on a search for beautiful light in a special environment and like to incorporate the human element in my frame where possible.
How did you become interested in photography?
I was interested in photography at high school in Adelaide, and I always had photography posters on my bedroom wall - ‘Barge and Children’ by Willy Ronis for instance - but I was busy training for flat water kayak racing and studying to get into medical school such that any creative endeavours were largely sidelined. I certainly never had an idea of photography as a possible career that’s for sure. When I travelled to Europe as a teenager for the Junior World Kayak Championships I took my first camera with me - a Canon T70 and some rolls of print film. I was very keen to photograph all the places I visited, in contrast with not having taken many photos at home. Being in unfamiliar surroundings sparked my interest I guess. I was always seeking out camera stores in various towns and I remember being excited about buying a Tokina zoom lens (my first) in Germany. That trip sowed the seed of wanderlust for travel and photography but the latter pursuit was a slow burner because medical school and then work as a doctor distracted me for many years.
While working as a surgical resident in California in the early 90’s I started using transparency film, it was a really transforming moment when I reviewed my first slides from a trip to Hawaii on a light table, they were very average pictures but the unforgiving nature of transparency film and the almost magical 3-D quality of the image when viewed through a loupe really grabbed my attention and I wanted to learn more and get better at photography.
Do you have any formal training?
No I don’t, but I have actively sought out mentors and photographers at the top of their game in my genre to learn from, people like Corey Rich and Michael Clark in the US. I keenly watch what other Aussie photographers are producing and try and learn from their approach, Krystle Wright, Andrea Francolini, Delly Carr for instance. I did enroll in a TAFE diploma course a few years ago but lasted only 6 months and failed dismally integrating as an adult student in that environment.
What do you think were some of the key elements to the development of your photography?
It was only when the digital era really got underway that my photography skills and output improved. Clearly it’s an easier craft to get ‘right’ now because of the immediacy of feedback from the LCD screen but for me it was all about a new sense of freedom if I can put it that way. I don’t mean that I’m happy now to just fire away at everything and anything, in fact I have a fairly circumspect approach to pressing the shutter and that was developed because in my mind everything had to be ‘just right’ before I would take a photo with slide film. I was being constrained by a desire to conserve film and not waste shots, that’s obviously not the case anymore. It’s just so much easier to ‘work’ a subject now.
What type of lighting do you use most within your photography?
Travelling light is important to me and so I keep things very simple, I might use a Canon Speedlight 600EX-RT on occasion to fill in shadows but since I am generally shooting on location and almost ‘on the run’ with little pre-planning then I prefer to use natural light where possible. Creative lighting using strobes though is something that works well in a lot of situations. The image of the climbers at night in my Ted’s portfolio is an example of something different for me where ambient moonlight, a small LED head torch on top of the rock and a spotlight onto the rock were all combined to get the shot
What are you currently working on?
I have two trips to Antarctica planned for 2015, one of which is a photographic trip I am leading which is open to anyone interested in learning more or expanding their knowledge of photograph. You will travel in comfort in a suite on an ice-strengthened ship to the beautiful and wild Antarctic Peninsula visiting the Falkland Islands and magnificent South Georgia Island as well. I’m really looking forward to sharing this magnificent environment with keen photographers of all experience levels, more at Antarctica Unfiltered
How has social media helped with the success of your photography?
Social media I think of as a necessary evil in some ways, Instagram, Google + and Facebook can waste time that’s for sure yet I’ve also learned a lot of things by following others on those platforms. I haven’t and won’t fall ‘victim’ to Twitter as well! I try not to get too distracted by all of the posts competing for attention but that can be difficult as can working out a strategy for my own use of social media. We all know that ‘engagement’ is the buzzword but to generate that from my followers needs focused hard work and I have so much else going on. Overall though it’s a positive environment for me to be a part of and there’s no question that more people know about my work because of social media exposure and in fact my involvement in the Antarctica trip that I am leading was a direct result of being followed on social media by the team at Travel Superstore who are the excellent company behind the logistics of the photo tour I will be leading down south.
How important is post-processing to your work?
Post processing is not a super strong area of mine, I find I don’t have the time and lose interest quickly if I find myself working very long on a single image. That’s one thing I really miss about shooting slide film, click and you’re done for better or worse! I use Adobe Lightroom exclusively and rarely edit in Photoshop but that’s probably because I’ve never taken the time to master it. Peter Eastway, an Australian photographer is a good example of an educator whose landscape work demonstrates how digital files can become art which is something I’m not brave enough to fully embrace but from which much can be learned. I don’t think I do anything very special, I try to keep things pretty real I think. I do use some VSCO film presets in Lightroom which emulate some of the slide emulsion looks that I’ve always liked and for some images that suit I will drop out a file into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and take things a little further. Overall though, if you are shooting RAW files – which I recommend for any ‘serious’ photographer – then you need to embrace and develop a post-processing workflow of some sort to get your images looking the way you want. There is no right or wrong, just your desired output that’s all.
What’s on your gear list for 2015?
I’ve been relying on my old Canon 5D as my second body for too long and so a second 5D MarkIII or perhaps the new 7D MarkII is about to be purchased along with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens. I am also looking to get a bit more creative with photography in Antarctica and have just purchased an Aquatech water housing with a pole extension kit as well as a Formatt-Hitech 10 stop ND filter system for wide angle landscape work. I am a big fan of Clik Elite products for the adventure photographer and will be adding one of their backpacks to my ever-growing kit list this year also.
What awards have you won?
- 2014 California Academy of Sciences Natural World Photography Exhibition
- 2013 Winner PDN Great Outdoors ‘Scenes of the Natural World’ competition
- 2013 Winner Australian Geographic ANZANG “Portfolio” and “Animal Portrait” Prizes
- 2008 Winner ‘Call of the Wild’ portfolio, Travel Photographer of the Year
- Assistant filmmaker/photographer for the Corey Rich Productions film “A New Perspective”, winner of the Grand Prize at the 2013 International Festival of Mountain Film in France
Any big plans for the future?
I have a lot of small plans involving some exciting travel opportunities in 2015 that will hopefully go a long way toward the one big plan of making adventure travel photography my full time gig in the future. Stay tuned!
Any advice for the novice photographer?
Oh I’m still to some extent a novice photographer, we all are because in this fast moving digital age there is always something new to learn and to master and creativity has no end to it. That’s one of the big attractions of photography for me – this constant evolution, the fact that your next great shot could be just around the corner and you don’t even know it yet. I’m not sure that I know many tricks really. My main tips are to value the time and effort you put in and the output you produce, shoot RAW files, edit critically, learn Lightroom, and get your photos out there - and by that I don’t just mean on Flickr, I mean in magazines, commercial websites, stock libraries, the walls of a gallery or a home etc. Hold out for payment for your images, don’t believe the ‘we don’t have a budget’ line or at least learn to be an astute judge of when a contribution for free can lead to other things for you or of when it makes sense to be generous for a cause.