I have decided to do a short piece on Andrew Murdock who is a professional photographer living and working in Maryland in the USA but who is British born and whose work I have literally known all my life as he is my own big brother.
The reason I have decided to include Andrew is because I respect his work as an artist in his own right and have also realised his profession is very relevant to the questions of this course too – so for now I take a step back and review his work as an art student rather than as his sister.
Andrew was born in Andover, Hampshire before moving to Plymouth shortly before I was born as our Dad was in the military and after he left when we were 7 and 9 we all moved to Lincolnshire for the rest of our childhood. Both our paternal grandfather and also our Dad had a huge interest in photography and were keen amateurs and hence Andrew took it up too as a hobby but showing great talent – many an afternoon the bathroom became a dark room throughout our teenage years and our late Mum’s favourite photo of me was taken by Andrew and looking back showed his great skill with portraits early on.
However after leaving school Andrew settled into a career in computer sales for a number of years and lead to a somewhat nomadic life working in the UK and abroad including the USA. After a nasty accident whilst training for a triathlon whilst working in Hong Kong Andrew moved permanently to the USA, eventually settling in Frederick in Maryland where he finally a few years ago he decided to take the risk and make his living as a professional photographer. Andrew’s other life long interests are sport and music and his life in Frederick and work has enabled him to indulge both. That risk has paid off and now I speak as a sister because I am incredibly proud that he is doing something that he is so passionate in the same way that at the age I am now I am happily sat doing this research as part of my own degree in textiles.
Andrew is now primarily a commercial and editorial photographer and works mainly on magazines doing lifestyle and human interest stories alongside a lot of portrait photographs for professional and private clients. He also does landscape photography which he says is more for fun and his own enjoyment but he also sells through http://www.fineartamerica.com as well as his website (www.natural-artistry.com) where his landscapes (and all other work) can be viewed..
So why now do I choose to research my own brother? because when thinking about the political, economic and social issues that affect artists I also questioned privately how they would affect Andrew or other photographers. I directly asked him and he said these factors don’t because of the nature of his work but I beg to differ from a student’s point of view – the very nature of commercial and editorial work means it is governed by local politics and economics even if you are not fully aware of it. Also Andrew has done articles on the homeless in his community as well as with those affected by alzheimers due to his fiancee’s work – like Robert Lenkiewicz he see the homeless as outcasts or ‘undesirables’ in communities or bunches of rags but as humans with stories to tell and lives lead who have just fallen on hard times. By doing the human interest or lifestyle stories Andrew is very directly affected by social issues and involved in them. The social issues also affect the nature of his work because he does so much portrait photography too – on his website his work can be seen and what is fascinating to me (but not as his sister) is the fact that he captures not a flat photo but he captures that his subjects life or soul somehow and this reminds me very much of Robert Lenkiewicz and his paintings. Further alot of his work involves photographing music bands or doing advertising photography which again are areas directly affected by politics, economics and social factors because music tends to focus on one or more of these in the lyrics and obviously advertising is economics on its own.
I then realised that Andrew’s profession was relevant to the second question in this part of the course too – his profession is part of the digital art world and some of his work very directly falls under this category (thinking in particular his landscapes but also some of his work with dancers and similar). Since the very early days of photography it has developed at an incredible rate and is now such a part of life that we take it for granted and has many different genres. I do think it is looked down upon when compared to painting etc as an art form in its own right because it is not a fine art but rather a creative one – perhaps this is because in historical art terms it is a very young art.
Thinking briefly ahead to the next question too with regard to what advances are being made photography is one which is still developing as technological advances are being made continuously. I have no doubt Andrew will embrace those advances because he is still an expert in computer technology and enjoys it too.
At this point the question comes do I like my brother’s work just because he is my brother or is it because I genuinely admire him? very much the latter because we have lived in separate countries for a number of years now I have been able to watch his development as a photographer from afar. From an art point of view the landscapes he photographs are incredibly done and I do know from his blog and posts on facebook have taken meant many long treks in all conditions and frequently with incredibly early starts to the day – he captures not just the scenery but the movement and the atmosphere of the location too. Andrew will put in the hours necessary to get that perfect shot that captures the soul of the landscape. His commercial and editorial work and work with bands is also top level as the photographs capture either what his clients request or the atmosphere and somehow the essence of the band to the point you feel you are there listening to them too.
Robert Lenkiewicz and other skilled portrait artists do not just paint a picture that is representative of someone’s face but they capture that life, their soul, their story and as stated above Andrew has a knack of doing this with his camera that you can see most clearly in the black and white photographs he takes but also in his colour shots too. His work is not flat or soulless but has life to it. What I didn’t know was the level of the skill of his sketching – I have not seen my brother draw since our teens but he was very good then but there is one photograph of him I have seen where he is sat at his desk sketching out a story board and he could very easily make a living from those sketches alone as they have a raw beauty about them.
Although we are brother and sister it is very easy for me to see Andrew’s work objectively. Andrew almost certainly realizes that the people and the surroundings he photographs all are effected by the political, economic and social factors that are a part of every day living but much more so when you work in any of the arts whether fine art or applied arts or the digital arts.
Andrew may not be a big ‘name’ in his profession but he has gained a solid and respected reputation and is happy with what he is doing whilst continuing to learn and study and develop as a photographer.
Natural Artistry (date unknown). Natural Artistry [online]. [Date Accessed: 2016]. Available from: http://www.natural-artistry.com/