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Taking pictures in a unique way, the award winning Andrew Griffiths has dedicated his work to taking aerial shots of Melbourne and Australia by helicopter. This particular vantage point has helped him produce some of the most extraordinary shots of cities, buildings, landscapes and even the outback. Andrew shares some of his thoughts with us on his inspirations of light and flight, providing us with a greater understanding of his incredible photographs.
A little bit about yourself: how did you get into photography?
I am a self-confessed aviation nerd. I have always been obsessed with flying and from an early age it’s been a bit of a joke in the family that if a plane or helicopter flew overhead it was only natural that I would race out the door to see what it was. Much to the amusement of my girlfriend, I still do it. Eyes always in the sky.
Mum had a beautiful old Minolta SLR and was very generous in letting me use up her expensive film. That was in the early days and I never even considered that it could one day become a career. I spent my school life wanting to become an architect but I always found myself drawn back to my two favourite hobbies – photography and building things that fly. Around 15 years ago I stumbled on a way to combine the two and I’ve been photographing from the air ever since.
What inspires you and your photography?
As strange as it might sound, I’m inspired by light. Light can transform an otherwise flat subject into something beautiful and fascinating. Chasing this inspiration can be all consuming and everything else tends to take a back seat to my work. If it looks like the light is going to be good, you’ll find me up in the sky trying to capture it.
Who has inspired you over the past few years or even influenced you, and what is it about them and their work that has influenced you?
I suppose starting out there weren’t many people doing what I wanted to do. I’ve always been inspired by people who innovate, create and persevere. Yann Arthus-Bertrand would probably be one of my favourite photographers. His life’s journey and pursuit of what matters is an inspiration.
Why do you photograph Melbourne? Is there a particular reason?
Most of my commercial work is based in Melbourne, but I travel all over the country working and flying above so much of Australia’s spectacular outback and urban landscapes. I’m lucky enough to be able to call Melbourne home. Everyone likes to joke about the weather here and whilst it’s fascinating to watch four seasons pass in a single day it presents a real challenge when trying to work with it. I’ve become very good at reading weather charts and getting a feel for when the best conditions will present themselves. It keeps me on my toes and you can never be 100% sure what you’re going to have to contend with. For me this is also an exciting part of the job and has allowed me to shoot in the most amazing weather, including sea fog, sun showers, rainbows, and even the occasional scary thunderstorm. Add a beautiful urban landscape like my hometown, Melbourne, and it makes for a pretty exciting job.
Do you have a particular technique or style in which you take the photos?
Harnessed in and standing on the helicopter skids whilst shooting vertical stills 10,000 feet above a city at night! It takes a lot of planning and some luck with air traffic control but once you get there it’s the most amazing experience, surveying the hustle and bustle of city life thousands of feet below. I also really enjoy shooting Virtual Reality panoramas, which involves spinning the chopper on the spot. Not an easy task and something that should never be attempted without a highly skilled pilot.
Much of your work is posted onto Instagram? Has this platform been a huge benefit for you and your work? What do you find most useful about Instagram?
Actually, what you see on my IG feed is probably only around one to two percent of my work. IG allows me to share images and ideas that catch my eye – somewhere I can share my perspective of the world with other like minded people. It also provides a great feedback platform and I’ve found thousands of people who seem to love Australia’s landscape as much as I do. It has always been about the sharing of ideas, adventures, videos, and photos. I’ve never let it become about business.
Who is one of your favourite followers on Instagram?
There are so many interesting and talented people following me on Instagram that it’s difficult to list them all here. Scroll through my list of amazing followers and you’ll find so many talented people. My personal favourite would have to be my girlfriend! @laranowland. She’s always there as a second opinion and is just an all around beautiful person.
Out of all the photos you have taken, which one would be your favourite?
People often ask what is my favourite all-time photo. I’ve been fortunate to have so many amazing experiences, to have met and worked with so many incredible people, locations, challenges, near disasters. I carry these things with me and they all add an extra something to each and every photo I take. So to be honest I think my favourite photo is the photo I’ve yet to take.
Any other information….New print shop?
It seems a shame to keep so many of my favourite images locked in a hard drive somewhere so I’ve started making them available as prints to the general public. Many of the photos have won international awards and it’s not until you see them enlarged and hung on a wall that they really come alive. I didn’t realise how popular the prints would become so we hit the ground running and have been hard at work streamlining the order process. I’ll be expanding the image collections with new prints every week so jump on over and check it out at www.lensaloftprints.com.au.