Member Spotlight: Andrew Ford

Based in Royston, England, Andrew Ford has been a member of Visual Education since early 2019. But he’s been a keen photographer for the best part of fifty years.
It all started when he was a boy, captivated by the slides his father had captured on his travels around the world. “By the time I was in my mid-teens, I was hooked,” says Andrew, who names Ansel Adams as another photographer who inspired him in the early days.

From degree days to digital

After earning a degree in photographic science in London, Andrew went on to develop photo and video systems for police use. These systems were used for surveillance at football stadiums at the height of the hooliganism problem in the 1980s.

Andrew also trained police officers to operate these systems, meaning he has some experience of the challenges of teaching photography!

When Andrew changed jobs and lost access to a dark room, he drifted away from photography slightly. But when he saw a Nikon digital camera for the first time, his enthusiasm returned.

Andrew Ford watch image
Andrew's winning image in the Commercial category of the Guild of Photographers Awards 2021. © Andrew Ford

These days, Andrew considers himself semi-professional, working with local businesses and schools on their promotional materials as and when the right jobs come along.

As they did for many photographers around the world, those jobs became scarce during the pandemic. On the plus side, lockdown allowed Andrew to spend more time in his home studio (once his dining room), working on his favourite kind of photography: product work.

Andrew Ford home studio
Andrew converted his dining room at home into a photography studio

Making things look expensive

Specifically, Andrew loves photographing “little things that aren’t very expensive – but that I can make look expensive."

For Andrew, the pleasure comes in refining his lighting techniques to give the appearance of luxury and exclusivity to products that in fact cost next to nothing.

When not shooting for clients or working in his studio on product images, Andrew loves to get out and do some street photography. For that, he loves his old Fuji X-E2 with a 35mm F1.4 lens.

Andrew loves new gear, too, but is insistent that you don’t need to break the bank to progress as a photographer.

“You don’t need to spend £20,000 on a camera unless you need the resolution because you’re going to blow your photos up to an enormous size,” he says.

Andrew Ford security camera

© Andrew Ford

Geared up

Andrew's go-to cameras in the studio are his Fuji X-T2 and X-T3, with a Fuji 80mm macro lens proving crucial for his product work.

He’s also proud of his collection of older models, some of which date back to the late 1970s. These include a Canon A-1 and an Olympus OM-10D.

Andrew Ford pen

Elsewhere in Andrew’s studio you’ll find four Elincrom flash lights, plus a couple of D-Lite RX Ones. Some pieces of black perspex (acrylic) and LEE 216 diffusion material are always close to hand.

Rounding out his collection is an array of ‘stuff’ that he likes to have around when it’s time to improvise a solution. This includes piping, sand, gaffer tape, bits of cardboard, and more – all part of Andrew’s philosophy of “Make it work with what you’ve got.”

Connected to his iMac (soon to be upgraded) is a Loupedeck and a Wacom tablet, which he uses in place of a mouse even when he’s not retouching. He uses both Photoshop and Lightroom, and is about to start using Blender.

Beside his computer is a brand-new printer: an Epson SC-P900. This was his prize from Epson as the winner of the Guild of Photographers 2021 Photographer of the Year Award.

Andrew Ford pen

© Andrew Ford

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Award-winning work

Andrew has been submitting his work to the Guild’s Image of the Month competition since 2016. He’s achieved some success in the past, but 2021 was his best year so far. He was named both winner and runner-up in the Commercial Image of the Year category. In fact, six of the 10 images picked as finalists in that category were Andrew’s!

On top of that, he was the winner in the Open category, too. These incredible achievements earned him an even more impressive accolade: the Guild’s Photographer of the Year.

“It came as a shock!” Andrew says, adding that “these achievements are definitely the result of using Visual Education. The lighting techniques I use, I learnt from your platform. I owe you a huge thank you.”

Andrew Ford ratchet driver

© Andrew Ford

Love of learning

It was happening upon one of Karl’s YouTube videos that first led Andrew to become a member of Visual Education back in 2019. Though he was already an accomplished photographer, Andrew recognised the importance of honing his technique and deepening his knowledge.

“If you stop learning, you lose interest,” he says. “And seeing how Karl solves problems is really helpful.”

Andrew particularly loves the product photography section, and it was the classes on watch photography that really got him  hooked.

He appreciates that Karl is honest and transparent about the work that goes into achieving pro-level images. Sometimes, for example, you need to composite multiple shots to get the lighting effect you want. Where other photographers conceal that work, Karl shows you how to do it yourself.


Luxury Watch Product Photography

Karl demonstrates simple, effective techniques to help you capture stunning, professional-quality, ad-style watch photography.
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Andrew Ford watch

© Andrew Ford

Remarkable range

Another thing Andrew enjoys is the range of subject matter – the fact that the platform covers everything from the basics to advanced techniques. “It’s quite a trick to pull off, and the platform does it very well,” he says. Crucially, he adds, “it’s all pitched at an understandable level.”

In fact, when his son begins his GCSE photography studies in September, Andrew will be directing him towards Visual Education as a valuable resource.

“I just think the platform’s brilliant,” he says. “I’ve watched a lot of people try to teach photography, and most of them come up short. Karl doesn’t.”

Andrew Ford wooden pen and journal
© Andrew Ford

To 3D and beyond

Looking ahead, Andrew is keen to try his hand at food photography. He’s also eager to get to grips with Blender, and is excited to dive in to our new series of Blender 3D classes.

Great to have you on board, Andrew!

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