Colin Anderson is a photographer and digital artist from Austrailia. Considered a generalist, Colin’s work is stylistic, conceptual and often narrative based. A vision, that has been shared with such diverse companies as Adobe,The United States Air Force, Accor, AMP, Compaq, Dell, Discovery Channel, EMI, Esanda, Fuji,Harper Collins New York, Hayman Island Resort, Hotel Sofitel, IBM, Ingram Micro, Kodak, LG, Maxtor, Mecure Hotel, Merrill Lynch, National Geographic Channel, Newsweek, Panasonic, Penguin Books New York, Random House New York, Samsung, Sheraton, Telstra, Toshiba, Warner Bros, Universal and many more.
DIYP: Tell us a little of how you got into photography, and who your influences are.
CA: I initially intended going into advertising as an art director. I studied advertising at a Melbourne University. Photography was part of my course. I thought there was an advantage being a photographer with an advertising background. I think it helps to think like an art director when creating images. I guess this is why so many of my images are narrative based. One of my favorite photographer is Rodney Smith even though you wouldn’t think it looking at my work but I just love his style. Peter Jackson is also another favorite, his attention to detail, the way he thinks and the beauty of his film making strikes a real cord with me.
DIYP: Your body of work has amazing diversity; from cinematic manipulations to amazing style fashion images…which style do you prefer the most?
CA: Yeah my work is kind of schizophrenic. Maybe I get bored easily so I chop and change styles. I think in this era you have to adapt and change with the trends. Most of my work is very detailed; hundreds and hundreds of layers so when I get a simple job I love it. However they are very few and far between as most clients come to me for the very complex images that are difficult to create. I love anything military or futuristic so when these types of jobs come my way I jump at them.
CA: It looks like you use CGI in some of your images, if so could you tell us a little bit more about your workflow in these images?
CA: I love CGI and photoshop because anything is possible. I can create worlds the way I want them. There is a freedom through these programs that I can’t always achieve in the real world. You can’t always jump on a plane to get that mountain you need for a background. There’s not too much that I can’t create from scratch through the use of these programs.
Quite often I will do some initial layouts in 3D and then get the model into the studio to shoot. This way I have all my angles and lighting worked out. The studio time is usually quite quick.
DIYP: For anyone starting out with the desire to create images like yourself, what advice would you give them about finding inspiration?
CA: I get inspiration from everywhere. Movies, documentaries, ads, news items or unusual props. I keep a visual diary for ideas which I find to be very helpful. There are no short cuts with this work, you have to put in the hours to get your skills to a high level. No matter your skill level it’s a constant battle to keep improving. Being obsessive helps. My day can start around 1.30am and I can still be working into the evening.
DIYP: How important is Photoshop in your workflow, would you be able to create your images without it?
CA: No. Ha ha. I love photoshop it’s a part of me. I can’t imagine a life without it.
DIYP: Will you ever start creating tutorials, and if so how would you sell these?
CA: I have had so many requests for tutorials over the last couple of years that it has been on my to do list. I’m working on a few ideas at the moment that I can hopefully get something out towards the end of the year or the beginning of next year. I will probably sell them through a link to my website. Still early days so l’m thinking through the process at the moment.
DIYP: Out of all your projects, which had the most impact on your life?
CA: It wasn’t really a project but getting invited by the Senior Creative Director of Adobe, Russell Preston Brown to speak at Adobe Max last year in Vegas was a pretty amazing experience. If you’re a photoshop guy then a call from Adobe is like an invitation to the Vatican. For someone who doesn’t like public speaking it was really out of my comfort zone, but what l found was how much I enjoyed the whole experience of showing people how I create my images. It was kind of the catalyst for me wanting to start doing tutorials and teaching other people who are interested in my workflow.
DIYP: If you were only allowed to give one essential piece of advice to a beginner, what would it be?
CA: Put in the time. Be obsessed. Everyone who owns a phone is a photographer. Your work needs to stand out, you need to be really good technically and the only way is to put in the time. If you’re a photographer who wants to also be a compositor your workload is even more intense as you have to have equally good skills in both areas. Understanding lighting is very crucial for both location and studio work…again it really takes a multi discipline approach to bring everything together. If one area is lacking in your workflow then the entire shot falls apart.
DIYP: What cool projects do you have lined up for 2018.
CA: I’m working on a couple of jobs at the moment that I have lost a lot of sleep over : )It’s not often I get worried about a job but at the moment I have one that has been giving me headaches. One is a recreation of the Normandy Landing. This is very time intense, not only the logistics of creating a piece with so many individual elements from Battle Ship, barge balloons, Higgins Landing crafts, uniforms, aircraft, pill boxes etc… So I have had to do a lot of research.
DIYP: Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time?
CA: Just doing what l’m doing now…but a lot more travel…and oh yeah living in Hawaii.