I've known Andy for a number of years. I met him when he attended a lecture on lighting I gave at BookPeople (an Austin independent book store) about ten years ago. At the time he was an ardent amateur photographer who soaked up information like a sponge. Over the years he's gotten more and more serious about his photography but not in a traditional way. He's never been much impressed by the latest and greatest gear and prefers working with an ever rotating (and big) collection of point-and-shoot digital cameras that seem to represent all the good stuff from the last ten to twelve years.
A few years ago he upped his game by starting a blog which he nurtures with daily postings. You can see the blog here: https://blog.atmtxphoto.com Occasionally he'll write about gear by way of a review but you can tell that standard reviews bore him and he's weaned his readers off the low hanging fruit. His real strength as a blogger is that he is constantly shooting and then talking about the process of photographing rather than blathering on, writing about, well, gear. He'll tell you what camera he used and why he liked it but you don't come to ATMTX to learn about the latest Zeiss Otus lens or Nano Acuity. Kinda refreshing. He's also not selling workshops, or flogging someone's sponsored product.
So, Andy has a day job and he doesn't have time to take traditional assignments but when his real work requires travel he doesn't go anywhere without a camera or three in his hands. Recently he found himself in Bangalore and Mysore India. I'm not sure, technically, how long he was there for but I do know he was there long enough to fill up a book with well over 100 wonderful street photographs from his adventure.
And I mean adventure. While most U.S. business people tend to stay in the "safety" of guarded hotels and corporate centers Andy is right at home on the streets with real people. He's also has a fearlessness laced with a gentle and low key demeanor.
I was floored when he pulled out this book at our lunch on Monday (Andy, sorry, I realize I really ate most of the queso...) and we started to leaf through it. Andy designed the book, chose the images, did the post processing and ran with the project all the way to completion. And it's a very nicely done book filled with images that are as good or better than most of the images I see from "major" talents these days.
I really liked the way Andy paced the book and how he found resonant images he could place side by side for effect. The paper isn't premium grade; hell, it isn't even glossy or lustre, more of a trade book grade, but the images work really well on it and, like a lot of art books being bandied about, the production values make the book more accessible instead of more "precious."
The book is a self-published work done at Blurb but it's the equal of many books that find their way through traditional publishing. When Andy gave me a copy I couldn't wait to get home to my favorite reading chair and sit, with a hot cup of real coffee, and give each page my full attention.
So, what has the book done for me? It's woken me up to the idea that real artists are constantly creating instead of sitting around waiting for fate or fortune to throw the next project into my lap. It's made me realize that we live in a time when all of us can afford to create our own books and be our own publishers.
Andy is already looking ahead to the next ten books. Everywhere he goes is a potential project. Even Austin, our home town, is a potential, future book. He kicked my ass into gear in a big way.
Here is the link to Blurb where people can buy the book:
And here is his blog post about it:
I guess if you are really into photography (with a huge "P") you could drop $10,000 for a Steve McCurry print over at the Magnum Photo shopping mall. But if you are into a wide and new vision of the possibilities of photography right now you could drop all of $18 for your very own copy of "On the Street: India" and get a taste for what one guys, with cheap cameras, no media connections, no Magnum connection, etc. can do all on his own. Or you can buy both and cover all your bases.
The back cover.
So, out of my lunch with Andy I get a great book, a huge serving of motivation, and a newer understanding of (in a good way) where we are right now with some parts of photography. The fun and non-pretentious parts. But our conversation also veered into topics like the visual differences between CCD sensors and CMOS sensors and the appeal of smaller, cheaper cameras that are less scary or obtrusive to our subjects.
I was reminded of the Canon G10 and like most overly pampered and entitled people I thought about getting one again, the universe took me at my word, and today at 2 pm, in a soaking rainstorm, a friend knocked on my office door and delivered to me a like new G10 in the original box. I vowed not to spend any more on cameras until I've flogged the G10 and squeezed a lot of new art from it but of course you know I was on the web not more than fifteen minutes later ordering some additional Wasabi Power batteries for my new artist tool. And that's when I also started considering the G15.
And off we go. But, circling back to the book, it's not in any way camera dependent. Andy's success with the project was not predicated on connections, sponsorships, deals or quid pro quos. He wanted to do the project and do it well. So....he....just did it.
And he showed me that we can do our projects too. That's it.
(Andrew Molitor! Buy one. If you don't like it I'll buy it from you and pay for the shipping. It's a book!!!)