Andrew Kelly is a multi-award winning photographer whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Moscow News, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and Time Magazine. In this interview we get a peak of what it’s like shooting the moments between poses backstage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
ph: Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, by Andrew Kelly
LUCIE BEATRIX: Where are you from?
Andrew Kelly: Kind of near the city of Melbourne in Australia.
When did you move to NYC?
When did you realize that you wanted to be a photographer?
In around 2004-5. I met a photojournalist in India who was working for Reuters and couldn’t believe he was getting paid to lead an extraordinary life. I wanted in.
What is your favorite photograph?
I really love Eric Thayer’s photo of a plane flying through the “Tribute in Lights” memorial on the anniversary of September 11th. It’s almost spiritual.
Who do you admire and look up to?
There’s a guy in the city called Justin Lane. I work alongside him often. He shoots for EPA. He takes amazing photos but I really like his approach too. Very chill, very professional, gets it done. Oh, and he also has a Pulitzer Prize, which is pretty cool.
Is there a specific subject you prefer shooting?
All people great and small.
What kind of camera is your favorite?
I shoot with the 5D mark 3, I really like it a lot. Sturdy, reliable, good focus and not too big, so it’s easy to carry about.
How do you get your subjects to show their personality in your portrait photography?
I mean I relate to people pretty easily, so I think it’s just kind of a conversation. Plus the Fashion Week portraits, I mean a lot of people are at Fashion Week to be seen, so you don’t really have to beg for poses. It comes pretty easy.
What is the most exciting part about shooting behind the scenes at NY Fashion Week?
It’s just a gold mine for a photographer. Models in candid moments, huge personalities, a lot of energy. I have a blast.
What is the hardest part about being a photographer?
Not that much. Just in New York there is a lot of red tape, a lot of “you can’t shoot here” types. That didn’t really exist in Australia so I struggle a little with that, but otherwise everything’s pretty decent!
What tools do you use to stay calm and grounded in such a fast-paced industry?
Well, whenever I get really tired and burnt out I just remind myself that I came to NYC to work and try to get experience. So if I’m so tired from that, then I’m just really living my dream a lot!!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Oh gosh, well I think if you’d asked me this ten years ago I wouldn’t have mentioned photographer or New York at all, so I try not to guess really. Take it as it comes. 10 years older, wiser, and happier is fine.
What do you do in your free time when you aren’t shooting?
I like riding my bike about New York. It’s cool just to check out different areas.
What role does social media play in your life?
Well professionally, I do a fair bit of work for a few companies’ social media which is fun, but personally it plays hardly any role. I don’t use Facebook, barely check instagram, and follow around five people on Twitter. I’m more a face-to-face type of guy.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Just say “yes.” Then the doors will open and you will be pushed through them.
Check out Andrew’s work at andrewkellyphoto.com