Interviewing Andy – a must read!
Please go and get your favourite tipple be it a dark roast or a delicate cup of Earl Grey or a dram or something else equally intoxicating and enjoy a few moments of relaxation whilst you get to know Andy, visual treats are at the end!
me: Firstly I wanted to thank you Andy for agreeing to this interview, it is part of a writing course that I am doing, in the hope of ‘improving’ my skills or lack of skills and giving me some in some way.
Just to let my readers know that I met you on Photography101, a few weeks ago and noticed that through the Commons, being the private space for bloggers participating, that you were of great support to many of the people there.
How did you find the course in general, did you learn anything, gain anything in any way?
Sent at 2:03 PM on Monday
Andy: And thank you too. I have enjoyed taking photographs for as long as I can remember, it is a very social thing to do and I enjoy trying to express feelings and emotions through my photos.
I have been using the WordPress platform for around 3 years or so and have always found it to be a great supportive place to be. I take part in the Daily Post weekly photo challenge each week and it is always fascinating to share other people’s take on the world. I am also keen to keep learning, sometimes you can feel stale, so, when I saw the photo101 challenge I leapt at the chance.
I gained a lot, tried new things, actually expressed myself far more than I have before. And best of all enjoyed the social side and made new friends.
Sent at 2:07 PM on Monday
me: That’s wonderful. I have had a sift through both of your blogs and noticed that you are quite an accomplished photographer, having had a book published already.
You have a very distinctive style within your photography which I don’t believe is entirely dictated by your surroundings, you have your own stamp which is hard to create. As such it is great to know that you did learn something and are keen to ‘still’ learn, not feeling that your talent has excelled to its limit…
Sent at 2:09 PM on Monday
me: I would like to introduce my readers to both your blogs, being Belgian Streets and Belgrade Streets. You lived in Belgrade prior and now in Belgium since September 2013.
I get a sense of great emotional attachment within your Belgrade blog and as such it has made me want to find out more about it as a place. It seems to have been a place constantly built up from having been brought down by war to the ground and holds its place in History as the oldest European City, this is right I take it?
Sent at 2:11 PM on Monday
Andy: Firstly, you are very kind about my credentials.
As for learning, I don’t think we ever stop learning until the day we die, and if we think that we don’t need to keep learning then we might as well be dead anyway.
As far as photography is concerned, I think you need three things. Passion, skill and luck. I have always been passionate about photography but my technical skills have a long way to go, I shoot my photos from the hip, or maybe from the heart. And I have been lucky, very lucky.
My time in Belgrade was a defining period in many ways. I was very unhappy when I first arrived. By the time I left it had captured my heart. It is an amazingly vibrant place, whether it is the oldest city I don’t know but it is certainly one of the most fascinating, sitting as it does between the cultures of the East and the West. And the scars remain, from the most recent bombings in 1999 back over hundreds of years. And what makes it really special are the people, the way they live as if it really matters.
Sent at 2:16 PM on Monday
me: Yes I can imagine and I see that in your photographs. My little bit of history said that it has been battled over in 115 wars and razed from the ground 44 times whic is quite something.
Your emotional history in your blog is quite evident and as such you have many positive accolades from it, including your book, interviews, mentions etc.
I imagine moving on from Belgrade for whatever reason quite hard, how was it for you being somewhere else now and perhaps looking back on everything you have done and accomplished there?
Sent at 2:19 PM on Monday
Andy: Moving on was very hard. Which was such a turnaround, as I mentioned when I first arrived I was miserable. I think Belgrade changed me, the people changed me in many ways, I saw some very recent history through a different lens. That experience made me rethink a lot of things. And Belgrade is where photography shifted from being a peripheral part of my life to a sustaining force.
What surprised me was the reaction of others to what I was doing. The history, the vibe on the streets, the passion of the people is everywhere. So, I set out to capture not what I saw, but what I felt.
When I moved to Brussels it felt empty and sterile by comparison and I missed so much about Belgrade and those who lived there. So, the blog in Belgium started off in a more clinical way, I wanted to recreate the same feeling. And a year later, it feels like that might be happening.
I think my photos have become more personal and I have become more able to express myself. And meeting like minded people, through Photo101 for example is a part of that.
Sent at 2:24 PM on Monday
me: I can see that, which is wonderful. It would be impossible to re-create the same thing, but life morphs and changes what we do and experience and as you say you are finding something as worthwhile now in your new blog, Belgian Streets.
You mentioned earlier that in your photographs, you are finding it easier to express a more personal side of you, your emotions and or experiences, what do you think has helped you to do that?
Sent at 2:27 PM on Monday
Andy: It is always terrifying to show your real self to the public, for me anyway. Having said that, in my professional work, I have accumulated a lot of experience giving interviews on the TV, radio and to the press. But that always felt safe because it was not “me”.
One of the most amazing things that happened in Belgrade was seeing people actually come out to see my photos at an exhibition, I had to give a speech and was interviewed on the TV. It had a powerful effect on me. That people might be interested in what I had to say, what I felt. And more recently, I have enjoyed some wonderful support and encouragement when I have dared to show what I feel. That is both scary and life affirming at the same time.
Sent at 2:32 PM on Monday
me: Having support from others be it on the internet or in person seems to have the same effect of allowing one to come out of one’s shell and feel safe enough to express parts that one might otherwise kept hidden away. Do you feel that this expression has an end goal, or is it just something that will continue to morph as life goes on? How is it currently helping you, it is cathartic in any way?
Sent at 2:35 PM on Monday
Andy: I have had an interesting life (and it’s not over yet). Both bad and good, made a lot of mistakes, hurt a lot of people, and been hurt.
It is easy to dwell on the negative and become depressed. I think it is all too easy to treat life like a map with defined way points. It is not like that.
To spend your life dwelling on the past or hoping for a better future – and I have done both, that is the way to hell. The support of other people, whatever the source, is a crucial part of life, it is what life is about. And it is not just about receiving but giving. Sadly whilst I have developed the ability to receive, the giving part remains a challenge.
Sent at 2:40 PM on Monday
me: At least you recognise perhaps what you see as your failings, which in the grand scheme of things is a huge learning curve.
I believe also that there is no point living in the past, or even what ‘might’ be the future, because in doing so we miss ‘now’, and what is right in front of us. We might come in to this world alone and depart it the same way, but inbetween life is to be made up of many rich experiences and naturally I think we are inclined to be together rather than insular and isolated.
That is why blogging can be such a great medium for those in many situations to reach out and find other people and or learn and experience reading and seeing new things.
You mention in your blog also that you are a frustrated writer, could you elaborate more on why you feel this way please?
Sent at 2:44 PM on Monday
Andy: For various reasons, I have felt quite repressed and unable to express myself. As a student I ended up studying the sciences, it was what was “expected of me”, I didn’t feel able to say what I wanted.
What I Ioved to do way back then was to write, the lessons I enjoyed the most were Art and Creative Writing.
Instead, I failed to assert myself and studied Chemistry and became an Accountant. Neither of those felt right. The only academic prize I ever won was in my first year at University, a philosophy course dealing with atheism. So, yes, I am frustrated although not a writer.
Sent at 2:48 PM on Monday
me: I think many of a ‘certain’ generation are clouded with having been persuaded in to professions that our parents thought the ‘right’ profession to be in rather than the one we ‘want’ to be in.
It also seemed to be that time was lacking in the ability to make up our minds, there was no time seemingly. It can be a very repressive life also to indulge in the daily grind of something one does not enjoy, a true gift if we get to work in what we really love.
I falter on the words ‘not a writer’ only because I am not sure what officially denotes someone as a writer, it surely is something from the heart.
You have been writing all along with your first blog of which you have a book, so I would say you fall in the category of writer and artist. You were surprised when I tagged your name and photography within this realm, but it clear to me you fit this title very appropriately
What is your choice of writing, if you were given the freedom to do whatever you want without the restrictions of earning a living or where to live, what would you do with your life?
Sent at 2:53 PM on Monday
Andy: I could write a book in answer to that question!
If I had such freedom, I would like to write, maybe a book but I think the story I have to tell would be a long time in the writing. I always thought it would be good to live by the ocean, paint, write, take photographs and sail.
All things I have tried to do and let them slip from my grasp in one way or another. Oh, and read. Books, with real printed pages. And sit on a rock and feel the waves on my toes.
I did that once and it changed my life.
Sent at 2:57 PM on Monday
Andy: And you will have noticed that I didn’t respond to your kind comments, that is because I still find it hard to believe that others want to read what I write or feel my images.
My life has changed as I have realised that we all have something to say. And I need to listen more.
Sent at 3:00 PM on Monday
me: It is all give and take and believe you me, you might not recognize it as you are similarly reserved about your talent, but you do give a lot to others, both in supportive comments to many and friendship
Your ideal life sounds beautiful, I hope that one day you get to experience a bit of this in some way.
You have brought Belgrade to the hearts of many and this is priceless, for me it has been a joyous learning experience as has seeing you morph slowly from the moth to the butterfly, sharing with us your creative and complex mind!
Before I give you my deepest thanks, is there anything else I have not touched on that you would like to share with us?
Sent at 3:03 PM on Monday
Andy: I think you might add the word “disturbed” to your description of my mind. Your comments are very kind, I certainly feel I have received far more than I have ever given.
I look forward to learning and growing with the support of others and learning how to give back.
Thank you for your support and encouragement and helping me along the way.
Sent at 3:05 PM on Monday
me: Thank you back Andy and for being subjected to my completely inadequate interviewing techniques, you might learn from me how not to do it LOL.
I had not realized at the time of asking you that you had been interviewed a fair few times, so perhaps my nerves set in a little.
I look forward to our continuing friendship, blogging experiences and learning curves both shared and individual xx
Sent at 3:06 PM on Monday
Andy: Actually I think you were a great interviewer, plenty better than most professionals who have interviewed me. I also look forward to our continuing friendship and those learning curves…x
and thank you
Andy has also kindly agreed to pick four of his favourite photographs of which you will find below, you will see that he has a ‘look’ about his artwork, his stamp which I myself am still trying to achieve and hopefully one day can emulate.
A bar in Belgrade, I used this shot in photo101 a reminder of the edgy feeling of beauty in the most surprising places
A shot ‘little people’ around the berlin wall, taken at the mini-europe park in Brussel, I include it here because I used it in my weekly photo challenge on the theme of “converge’ towards the end of photo101, the picture itself of people gathering together to celebrate and to face a new future, and that word ‘converge’ have now many complex resonances for me
A picture of razor wire that I used during photo101 in response to the word ‘triumph’ a photo that i used to face some bad memories, an example of how my photos have become more intimate, and elicited a supportive response that surprised me
A shot of a tram in a theme park in Belgrade, the theme park is like a deserted movie set, no one visits it, an example of failed enterprise and red tape, a park set amidst the bleakness of the ‘bloks” in Novi Beograd – and I chose it also because it is now on the front cover of the second edition of my book on sale in Belgrade and online now (gratuitous plug…)
A little birdie also told me that it is Andy’s birthday today, he kept that one quiet and as such I would like to make a toast to him;
If you wish to continue Andy’s birthday and join the Birthday Tea Party please pop here to have some fun!
I really thank all my readers from the bottom of my heart taking the time to read this, I am sure Andy would love feedback here as would I, Justine xx
© Justine Nagaur Eclecticoddsnsods.com