A photograph is a powerful tool to express one's inner musings - the delights and sorrows, creativity and even moments of its absence. We sat down with Andi Elloway to learn more about her personal work, what makes her tick and the stories behind the images she creates.
Hi, Andi! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi… I’m Andi. I live in New York and take a lot of pictures.
Who is Andi Elloway when not shooting? What do you do on your down time?
When not shooting… mostly things that still have to do with photography or art somehow. Editing, drawing, writing email, pulling references, and general coordination. I also enjoy fitness, skateboarding, and a few alternative activities.
Tell us about how you discovered photography. Was it always something that was innate and natural or learned?
It was innate and natural. I had a Barbie themed disposable when I was 7 and my mom would take me to get the photos developed when she took her own. They were all point and shoot with flash so… that seems to have carried over into my adult work. I’ve taken photos my whole life of friends and things I found to be odd or eye catching.
What can you say about ‘photography as an art or expression?’
Photography as an art I think is ultimately about documenting something that isn’t permanent, whether it’s something you create or witness. It’s about exploring ideas and your interests visually and being true to the subjects that you find attractive. Also a body of work or collection of images can be used to deliver a different type of impression than one alone might. Time passing also contributes to the impact of photos and context matters a lot. This question would require a full essay to address properly!
How does your professional work differ from your personal photography?
My professional work I think feels a lot like my personal work as far as style and subject matter. I like authenticity and try to bring that feeling to everything that I shoot. I want the photos to make people feel like they’re getting an inside look at something. I like things to look raw and for the viewer to feel like they could have been there, to feel included even when the scenarios are aspirational. I’d say the main difference is that my personal work is more provocative than what I could get away with doing for a commercial brand. Editorial can be a bit more flexible though.
>Having an assignment or challenge with a lot on the line is weirdly a very comfortable place for me. I think I’ve just been in that scenario for a long time now, first as an assistant and now with my own team.
In what area of photography do you think you feel most comfortable in? Or in what element do you find yourself more at home?
I’m always most at home with point and shoot cameras. My upper body strength is lacking, so shooting with the slr’s isn’t as easy. I like to be able to reach up if I need to or get a weird angle. I shoot photos in many different scenarios, but I’m always the most comfortable having at least a couple familiar people around. Friends make things fun. That being said I think new people are really great to have around also and I love working with that energy. I love that editorial gives you a bit more freedom to play, but I also very much enjoy the pressure of working in advertising and having to push myself. Having an assignment or challenge with a lot on the line is weirdly a very comfortable place for me. I think I’ve just been in that scenario for a long time now, first as an assistant and now with my own team.
What’s your favorite subject? Where do you draw inspiration?
I like to take sexy, grungy, glamorous photos the most. Luxury, but dirty if that makes sense. When it’s believable but maybe a slightly better version of a typical reality. When someone gets gum on their Gucci loafers, or trashes their Celine bag at a rave. I like shooting those things when I see them. If it’s for a brand or product, I want to shoot it in a scenario that feels feasible, not untouchable. Even in fashiony party crowds most people aren’t so precious with their gear that they’d sacrifice fun to protect it. Everyone likes to look good, but the point is to live and make the memories.
What do you think is the most important subject you've shot?
I don’t know yet. It will probably be more apparent in 10 years. Probably portraits of my friends and other people out and about over the years. I end up photographing many of the same people in different cities over time, so that will probably end up being an interesting narrative. They’re creative and talented and all that. Everyone is just starting to make a name for themselves now.
Everyone likes to look good, but the point is to live and make the memories.
What's your favorite thing about photography?
It helps me remember things. It’s a visual diary of my life. The things I’ve done, the people that have been there for it, weird details that I notice at the time but aren’t necessarily important. Like a friend hooking up with a stranger that ends up being in our circle 3 years later or something. I really love making a new friend and then finding a photo of them in the archives 4 years back. It’s so amazing when that happens.
What's your dream photograph?
There’s a cotillion themed project my friend Elon and I are trying to make happen…
What does the 'decisive moment' mean for you?
Sometimes it’s not even a conscious decision. I honestly feel as if my body acts on its own when certain things line up. When drinks start flying at a show for example or a lot of movement happens… camera comes out. It’s so second nature at this point. My Leica can be arms length away from my face and I can guess shots fairly well and just know to point in a certain direction. Good things can happen very quickly and there isn’t always time to be precise. It helps to have an intimate relationship with your gear and know how things feel.
How would you describe your style in five (5) words?
Spontaneous, sensual, luxe, raw, and…. maybe dirty.
In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a good photograph?
Color is very important to me… good lighting, emotion, and unexpected composition. Objects or people that seem a little out of place where they are. Having captured something that isn’t seen very often.
What’s your favorite photograph? Why?
It’s one in my personal archives. The composition, the person, the moment in time. I want to keep that one just for me, but I can tell you it was shot on film!
What camera/film/accessory setup do you use in your professional and personal work?
In my professional work I shoot a 5D with a 580 and a 24-70 typically. In my personal work I have a Leica x2 I carry around.
Any photographers/artists that you follow religiously?
Kenneth Cappello, Matt Lambert, Sean from Texas, Ren Hang, BessNYC4, Kyle Hopkins, Alex Da Corte, Jim Joe, Trouble Andrew.
Any upcoming projects? Please talk about them.
I’m in a show that Adidas Originals is doing the first week of December in New York. We shot things we love about the city over the past month. I’m also showing some work in a group show the following week called Noho No Pop. There are also a couple of culture books being put together that will probably be out sometime next year.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
I think being a plastic surgeon would have been entertaining. My family is all in medicine so that would have made more sense than photo actually.
Last words for our readers?
If you’ll be in New York come to the group shows!
Adidas Originals: Group Show // Ongoing through December at 115 Spring St, New York
NOHO NO POP: Group Show // December 10th, 6-9pm at 45 Bond Street
See more of Andi's work here.
All photos in this article were used with the artist's permission. We would like to express our gratitude to Andi Elloway for allowing us to publish her work.