A VIKING EXPLORES HIS ROOTS

by Anne Telford

Andy Anderson has deep roots in the Swedish countryside. At the turn of the 20th century there was a mass migration from Sweden due to the economy. His paternal grandparents were part of that migration, settling in Oyster Bay, on the north shore of Long Island in New York. His grandfather Herbert Gustav Anderson was a steward on yachts owned by the Vanderbilt and Mellon families, creating a historical precedent for his grandson’s love of the water.

It’s no wonder Anderson is drawn to the stark beautiful landscape of northern Sweden, scoured by rocky peaks and frigid lakes. The endless light and the expansive vistas proved a perfect setting for a recent somewhat spontaneous fashion shoot in Swedish Lapland. And the trip gave him an opportunity for his 25-year-old son Zachary to see what that side of the family was all about.

Personality Is Key

Anderson is proof that to succeed in today’s competitive photographic market, you must distinguish not just your work, but your personality must also stand out. His people skills have led Anderson to many an adventure, and to great friendships. His recent trip started out as a query to Håkan Stenlund, PR director of the Swedish Lapland Visitors Board, to go fishing. “Håkan got me access to a lot of places. We traveled around the region for 10 days. We got helicopter rides into the backcountry. The land is kind of unknown to Americans,” Anderson explains. “Swedish Lapland is so much more undiscovered. It’s Minnesota with mountains!”

“I met Andy through his work,” Håkan relates. “I used to shoot photo essays for Gray’s Sporting Journal. And so did he. I remember some of his essays still. He was great at storytelling, creating content with his shots.

“The genesis of the trip was quite simple. He contacted me on Insta and said he wanted to go fishing. So we actually just set up a cast and blast through Swedish Lapland. But that all changed when he came. He liked the country and just started working. “I don’t even think he touched his fly rods!” Håkan says.

Timeless Landscapes

“It felt like the most magical place I’ve ever been,” Andy says. “I feel at home in big open places. I’m not a big city guy. Not even a chance.

“People know me for my landscape work,” Andy states, typically modest about his achievements. His award-winning campaigns for GoRV, “God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl commercial for RAM Trucks, and Liberty Mutual, demonstrate his expertise at lighting and composition, and give a glimpse into what makes him tick.

Little wonder that a timeless landscape in which everything recedes except the natural beauty and incredible light would appeal to his senses. It also gave him an opportunity to shoot local modeling talent in starkly beautiful settings.

In one frame from this recent shoot an isolated island is seen from above, a few small red traditional houses dotting its shores. The red color derives from the mineralization of the Falun copper mine. The end result is paint with a matte finish and translucent surface with coarse silicon dioxide crystals that reflect the sun. At evening the color almost glows.

Speaking of glowing, Andy was able to witness the famed northern lights.

“The aurora borealis was a light show on steroids. Zack and I sat outside one night smoking cigars, watching the light show.”

Lapland or Sapmi as it’s called by the indigenous Sami people who have inhabited the region for thousands of years, straddles several regional borders—Norway, Sweden, Finland, and into Russia’s Kola Peninsula. It’s a frontier not unlike the American West used to be. Perfect for someone who chooses to live in a remote location himself, Mountain Home, Idaho, once a stop on the Overland Stage line and home to less than 15,000 people.

“There was a familiarity that was nice to share with my son,” Andy says of the trip. It’s also turned into a long-term project to shoot more work for the tourist board.

Capturing the Arctic Lifestyle

Given its remote location and short growing season, tourism has become increasingly important in this region of Sweden. “In the beginning the purpose of the trip was mostly fun hogging,” Håkan shares. “But that is changing. I hope Andy will come back. I like his pictures and I also love his energy. He is always working, coming up with new ideas. His style is different.

“So what I like is if he can capture what he sees the way he finds it. I love Swedish Lapland and the arctic lifestyle we live. But I’m used to it and have lost a bit of awe. With Andy’s shoots I hope to get some awesomeness in the picture, “Håkan writes me, as he is about to board a plane. For Andy Anderson, awesome is not a problem. And from the look of it in these beautiful images, it’s not a problem for Swedish Lapland either.

Here are some links to learn more about Swedish Lapland:

Sami Eco Adventures

Abisko Mountain Lodge

The Original ICEHOTEL

Fishing Sorsele

DOUBLETREE BY HILTON GOES DUTCH

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Andy and Y&R Chicago Travel to Amsterdam

A happy couple greets visitors to andyandersonphoto.com. It was shot in Amsterdam for DoubleTree by Hilton. That, of course, explains the bikes, the narrow cobblestone street, and the rows of tall, narrow buildings. It may even account for the couple’s smiling faces. But the light, the dreamy color palette, the focus, and the reflections? That’s all Andy.

I mention the beautiful palette to Andy, who tells me he prides himself on working with color. It shows. But when I speak with the Y&R Chicago creatives on the DoubleTree by Hilton campaign about Andy, they don’t mention his work—they speak of him.

“Andy is such a great personality,” says art producer Sheryl Long. “He is so open, friendly, and funny—it felt as if I’d known him forever.”

A good rapport goes a long way. Add good creative to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for success. Make it a rebrand—even better where Andy’s concerned. He finds rebrands exciting. Brands are usually in a good place, there’s a healthy amount of pressure, and when done right it’s good for everybody. When tapped for the DoubleTree by Hilton rebrand, he was excited to take this big production overseas.

“Andy is someone I have wanted to work with for awhile,” says executive creative director Jeremy Smallwood. “This project for DoubleTree by Hilton was perfect for him. Constantly being on the move, different locations, and lots of talent is usually a daunting prospect, but we knew Andy thrives in these sorts of environments.”

He thrives because he does his homework. There are plenty of challenges when you’re preparing for a library shoot half a world away. “I know what that means, what I need to have in place,” says Andy. He cites getting a crew together here, the time spent researching, putting an Amsterdam crew together—all the while navigating the time difference.

“The Europe shoot for DoubleTree by Hilton was the first chance I have had to work with Andy. And it was a great experience from start to finish,” recalls Long. “He and his rep, Heather Elder, were so accommodating and willing work with us to get the job done. We had a decent budget, but a large amount simply gets eaten up by production expenses and hard costs. Andy went above and beyond to work with us to make it happen.”

And there in lies the crux. Andy believed the creative was worth shooting. “I was willing to partner with the agency,” he says, “because I saw value in this project.” In line with his vision, he remained flexible.

Art Director Estee Mathes recognized this. “You can tell Andy is passionate about his craft. We had a lot of prep to do going into the campaign and I could sense that he couldn’t wait to get started shooting,” says Mathes, who really appreciated Andy wanting both the agency and the client to be happy. “Andy really cares…refusing to move on to the next shot until everyone felt like we had nailed it.”

“For these commercial library shoots, we need to have every shot planned out in advance, which can sometimes get to be too staged or posed,” Long admits. “Andy’s shots looked so natural and in the moment.”

Case in point, remember the happy couple riding their bikes? Long recalls, “The client was liking the street and the angles, so Andy hops on the back of a PA’s scooter. He and the talent go riding around to get other shots—mind you Andy is riding backwards on the scooter.”

Now that’s flexibility at its best.

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AMERICA EMBRACED – CHRISTINA STOROZKOVA

I have worked with a lot of talented assistants over the years, some of which are wonderful and amazing image-makers. This post is about one of them. Christina Storozkova and I met a couple of years ago while she was assisting me with a feature article for AARP Magazine. Her love for the US was immediately noticeable. I often ask many of my assistants if they would share their work for me to look at. I always love seeing images, and often assistants are very apprehensive to show, and Christina was no different.

Fast-forward 2 years and the leap she has made in making images has been astounding. It was quite impressive to say the least. I have been noticing it on her Facebook postings and with each post it just seems to get better and more refined. Something you notice immediately is her POV aka DNA of her images. Something I speak of often and Christina has that… a POV. Her work is profoundly American, with a very artful flair. Some of it reminds me of Eggleston, but more so unique and harmonious combination of Eggleston and Christina…well see for yourself.

1. Please tell me about yourself and how you ended up in the US, I think it’s a interesting story.

I am from Soviet Russia, however I now call the U.S. home.  I arrived here due to ingenuity, perseverance and a little bit of luck. If anyone wants to know the long story, they can invite me to lunch.

2. Why have you chosen photography as a vocation?

It wasn’t a choice, it’s just something that I have to do.

3. Since you assisted me a couple years ago your photography has become much more thoughtful and refined. I feel its as if you have made huge leaps in your passion for making images. What happened? It’s very impressive.

Assisting you was an eye-opening experience and it taught me a lot about working with people. After that I just kept shooting.

4. I find that the underlying theme in your work is about America, it reminds me a little about Eggleston. Can you elaborate a little on your subject matter? I find it very interesting.

As a foreigner, America was always an idea, a land filled with possibilities.  I think that gave me a different perspective on things.  Mostly I just seek out images that speak to me, and try to capture that.

5. What has been your inspiration in finding your subjects? Where does your motivation come from?

Being on the road and chatting with the locals helps.  Oftentimes I see something and I know I have to shoot it.

6. What is the one project you would love to embrace and why?

I would love to ride the Amtrak rails for a month and see the country through a window of a train.

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Creating amazing images.

SO YOU WANT TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER

You always hear kids say “Dad, I want to be like you when I grow up” and you never think twice about it. Well, that’s just what my son Zach Anderson has done. From the early age of 14, when he lied about his age to work in a movie theater in our small town, to summer film schools and than being accepted in to the prestigious film school at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he has always had a passion for film and photography.

In those early years, Zach always traveled with me in the summer to locations throughout the world and that’s where his passion began. Our house always encouraged our children’s interest, and I guess on him, maybe it all worked.

His work is very different from mine, which I guess I love the most. His images show sensitivity to his subject and his early influences. Well here, see for yourself.

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So why do you want to be a photographer?

I grew up around it my entire life and I’m absolutely obsessed with it.  It’s in my blood and I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else AT ALL.  All I want to do is create, succeed and leave my footprint in the field.  Like I said, there isn’t anything remotely conceivable I could see myself doing other than photography.  Nothing makes me happier than being on the road and shooting, absolutely nothing.  I’m 24 years old and it’s all in or nothing and that’s just how it is, there is no other option in my head other than being a photographer.  Having assisted many great photographers and traveling along side them as their 1st assistant reinforces the drive I have to live my dream as a photographer.

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What are your influences?

My influences stem from a lot of places.  From films to music to the people I chose to surround myself with and share my life experience.  I have been going to shows and festivals religiously since I was 16 and I have always gravitated to the weird and misfit characters those environments attract, because I too am one of those people, a misfit.  I think you have to be a student of the world and always be eager to learn.  Cinematographers and photographers influence me.  Emanuel Lubezki I think is a genius, his cinematography is profoundly beautiful and groundbreaking.  I am really inspired by Annie Leibovitz, her range of style is really breathtaking.  She definitely has had an influence.  Also I am truly in love with Ryan McGinley’s work, he is a hero of mine. We as image-makers are only as good as your last shoot or photograph.

You have to always be moving the ball forward, never be stagnant or just start phoning it in, because you’ve found something that works and is getting you assignments.  To me that just sounds creatively boring and depressing and I think it’s easy to fall into, so I am always very mindful of that.  I mean photography and creating are my drugs.  There is nothing more invigorating than pushing the envelope with a shoot or a test, seeing your results and being blown away.  You have to always be inspired. Inspiration is everywhere the eye can see.

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You started your studies in Film but why the change in direction creatively?

Yeah, I started my freshman year of college as a Filmmaking or MOV Major (Moving Image Arts) and a Photography Minor at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, formally known as the College of Santa Fe.  Pretty quickly in the first semester I decided that this was not where I wanted to focus all of my energy and rather just focus on photography, because I had more or less the creative control of articulating my vision, whereas in film it seemed to me that wasn’t the case.  Photography allowed me to create the beautiful images that I had in my head on my own terms.  And I figured I could move up the ladder creatively much quicker than I could in film.  And there is something more Zen about photography than film.

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You have interned at Outside, Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone. Tell me what your experience was and how it has influenced your work?

Well, I think the most obvious benefit of interning at a magazine is seeing how everything operates.  From portfolios being sent in, assignments being given/delivered and all the way to running final designs down for publication.  It’s a whirlwind crash course that cannot be given in college; you have to be there in the thick of it.  The most intense was Rolling Stone, because the magazine has an issue hitting the stand every other week, so it’s a lot of work and there are a lot of images/stories being worked on; but it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an intern.  Deborah Dragon is a force of nature in the magazine world and an amazing woman/mentor to me.  I owe a lot of what I know about the magazine/editorial world to her.  Interning at magazines influenced my work in the sense of presentation and design.  Photo editors and designers want to see your portfolio presented in a thoughtful way.  So the image(s) you are sending need to not only be striking, but the presentation and design of your mailer/logo needs to be killer too. They get countless mailers everyday (I know, I had to sort them out) and you want yours to be one they keep at their desk or hang on their wall. That is done by not only the beautiful image but also your logo design and presentation.  I mean they work insane hours to bring us tangible, beautiful stories and images to enjoy, so it’s a kind gesture when your mailers are sent to them in a personal and beautiful way and it also acknowledges that you appreciate their work and hinting that you would be a good collaborator to their creative process. It definitely influenced my creative and professional etiquette.

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Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 years?

Well I gotta get to the 5 year mark first haha.  Like I said before, I am 24 years  old and just trying to get my name and footing out in the field.   I can’t wait to  work with other creatives and make absolutely great campaigns and wonderful  editorial pieces.  By the end of this year I hope to be done with assisting.  I feel as if I am ready to make the jump, and I couldn’t be anymore excited for the road ahead.

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Who or what is the dream subject you want to shoot?

Photography and Music go hand in hand for me.  I am completely and utterly obsessed with them.  To the point I’m sure I drive people crazy at times.  There are many musicians that I would absolutely do anything for an opportunity to work with and take their portrait.  A current dream subject I would love to photograph is Lana Del Rey.  I love how enigmatic and detached her persona is.  Here music is beautifully haunting and that emulates from her look and style.  I think I would have an absolute hey day working with her on an album promo or an editorial assignment.  My mind runs a million miles a minute but in an intensely focused way.  So many ideas and dream subjects come up and I do plan an fulfilling as much of them as I can and hopefully wonderful creatives will give me the opportunity to do so.

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To see more of Zach’s work visit www.zachandersonphoto.com.

STILL THE BOYS OF SUMMER

This spring I was given the opportunity by Caitlin Peters at AARP Magazine to photograph 5 greats of the game of professional baseball and their teams during spring training in Florida and Arizona: Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins, Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies, Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles and Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers. Check out the article below or go pick up the latest issue of AARP Magazine.