D&AD Next Photographer Award Judge, Andrew Saunders, is the Senior Vice President, Creative Content at Getty Images. He leads a global team of art directors, editors and creative researchers who are focused on guiding and curating imagery that fulfills the needs of advertising, corporate and new media clients across the world.
While he trained as a photographer, Andrew's particular expertise lies in being able to apply the visual, demographic and social trends that he and his team are seeing to the development of the next generation of photographers.
Below, Andrew shares tips for aspiring photographers, discusses current trends in the medium, and picks out three examples of the kind of imagery that makes for an unforgettable portfolio.
What tools or kit are invaluable to the modern day photographer?
In terms of tools, the most important aspect of photography is light. That means being comfortable with your camera so you can concentrate on getting the best out of what's in front of you. My view is to start with a simple approach to the technical side, and allow the more important creative side to emerge. You can then build on your technical knowledge to support your style. It sounds obvious, but having business cards and a portfolio of work with you at all times is also crucial. Having both analogue and digital portfolios, and a simple website, will enable you to engage with as many potential clients as possible.
What current trends in photography excite you?
The emergence of more mixed media is exciting. The boundaries between illustration, photography and video are breaking down as it becomes easier to combine them. As imagery continues to proliferate within the way we communicate with each other, this will accelerate.
What are the three mistakes photographers are making?
Well, instead of three, here's one big one – sometimes I see young photographers not thinking hard enough about why they are shooting what they're shooting. The best photography requires thought and meaning, regardless of subject. Not pushing yourself in this way can lead to imagery that only communicates on a surface level – 'pattern-making' being the most obvious example that immediately sinks you into the often-disposable aesthetics of social media imagery. You have to challenge yourself to stand out from the visual noise. Photography is, after all, about communication and that means having a concept or idea behind your image. Taking that approach will clarify your thinking and give more power to your imagery.
Is a photography course essential to a successful career?
It's not essential but you improve the odds of being successful in the industry if you develop a groundwork of technical and creative skills that you can take into your career. Many courses will also teach you the basics of running your business and how to work with clients. As a photographer you are your own brand, so being professional in all aspects of behaviour is important. If you are neck and neck with another photographer as to who's going to get an assignment, the photographer who has the best attitude and is the easiest to work with will get the job.
How have you seen customer needs change over recent years?
Customers' needs have changed dramatically over recent years in terms of how they're using content. Clearly, technology has driven a lot of those changes, like online use and mobile devices for example. This has also driven massive increases in the volumes of content used. However, the messages that customers are trying to communicate around their products and services have not changed that much. We've seen subtle changes based on social and demographic trends but essentially those changes are slower than those connected to usage and placement.
The D&AD Next Photographer Award aims to discover and showcase the next generation of talented photographers from around the world. If you have less than three years professional experience, enter now.