with Coloring Dragons.com
it comes to having a good eye for a picture, few have one as well honed
as Andy Craddock, a photographer by trade, he’s turned an art
form into a passion. Enker manages to convince him to spare a few minutes
to sit down on the couch and talk to Coloring Dragons about himself,
his art, and his passion.
Andy I want to thank you for agreeing to talk to us today. Your portfolio
is amazing and it’s great to have you here. I’ll start with
the basics. For those who don’t know you, can you give us a basic
summary of who you are and what you do?
Hi Ben! Thank you
for the compliment. Me? I’m just a guy trying to turn a passion
into a career. I’m a photographer that whilst doing commercial
work also has to work to please himself. I have eclectic tastes and
a bizarre sense of humour and would love to think that shows in my work.
bio says that you are from the United Kingdom (like me) are you English
or do you just reside here?
Born and bred in the
UK. Pretty much a Sarf London boy with designs on moving to the surfing
coasts of Cornwall when I’m rich and famous.
You’re playing through Pokemon Pearl on the DS according
to your latest DeviantART Journal, how are you finding it? Do you play
Pokémon Pearl has to be the most rounded of all the Pokémon
games to date. Over 100 hours in and still addicted. Gotta catch ‘em
all you know! I’m a bit of a video games addict. I collect consoles
and am always on the look out for rarities. At the moment I have a Wii,
a 360, a US PS2 (for Final Fantasy games) and a Japanese PS3 fighting
for space under my TV. Under beds and on top of cupboards I have Dreamcasts,
Snes’s, Neo Geo’s, PC Engines, most of the hand helds ever
released and everything by Sega, Nintendo, Atari and Sony going back
to the start of industry. Mmmm… The new ‘Nights’ game
for the Wii… *lusts*
I often get the impression from your journals that you’re
a laid-back and fun loving kind of guy, peppering them with jokes and
film quotes. Would you say that sums you up? How would you describe
Definitely laid back. Life is way too short for bad karma. It’s
always difficult to describe oneself. It’s very subjective as
we don’t tend to see ourselves as others see us. I’d like
to think that I’m seen as one of the good guys but that’s
for someone else to say. I think that during my life I’ve lived
for myself and the people I love and that you either ‘get’
me and like me or don’t and don’t.
Onto a more serious question, can you remember the first time
you used a camera?
Hmmm… Dredges the recesses of his memory. That would have
been some 35 odd years ago. I can remember my first photograph. A grainy
B&W of a blurry goose shot on 110. It must have been the goose that
was blurry and not my lack of skill haha.
ENKER: Do you prefer traditional
photography or digital?
Definitely digital. I like the immediacy of it. I can go on a
shoot and come back in the evening and see what I’ve taken straight
away. Now digital has the same resolution as film I can’t see
why anyone would shoot film other than to experiment with old cameras.
I only shoot film on my 1940s Leica.
In your opinion, what makes a good
In other peoples work? A photo that moves or amuses me in some
way. The lighting could be up the spout and the composition could break
all the rules but if it has content I like it’s a good photo in
On average how long does it take to set up a shoot?
As long as it takes to move my studio around… Seriously,
a lot of what I do is on the spur of the moment. I have had shoots that
have taken weeks to arrange all the models, props and locations to all
be there on the same day and I have had shoots where I’ve been
on the phone to a model in the morning and arranged a shoot for that
afternoon… I like impulsive more than I like fixed. I like the
pressure and spontaneity of those kind of anything goes shoots.
Do you scout your own locations for your shoots?
Eight out of ten times I do. Especially with the church work.
Sometimes a model has a location she wants to shoot in that’s
pre-arranged and often a commercial client has a location but for my
own work I tend to either use my studio or a location I know would work
for the look I’m after.
Your bio says that you have little professional training, but
that you have been tutored by someone over the internet. Care to expand
upon that a little for me?
Of course, he deserves all the promotion I can give him. The guy
that really made a difference to my work and inspired me was RJ Carroll.
He trained as a tog in the US Navy and learnt the conventions that I
never did. Through deviantART he became my Bro and is due to stay with
me in the UK for a few weeks later this month (August). His constant
criticism and tips have really helped. It is a truism that to break
rules you have to know them and the mentoring I have been given rattles
through my head on every shoot. (keep those fingers and toes in shot…
Don’t cut arms off at the wrist) And on and on…
Do you approach the people who pose for you or do they come to
It’s a half and half mixture. I have accounts on modelling
sites like One Model Place and Model Mayhem that I use to contact and
be contacted at. I also use sites like MySpace. If I’m after a
very specific look it would be fair to say that I do the contacting…
I actually shoot anyone though so am happy to be contacted. I generally
like people that have something that appeals to me rather than the masses.
I like to shoot people that have something a little different about
them… Amputees and dwarves apply here! I like the girl next door
type rather than the super model.
Talk us through the process you normally follow when on a shoot
and when developing your photos.
God, have I got enough space? On a shoot I try to strike up a
rapport with the model. I have a very laid back approach and would rather
let the model move in their own way rather than strictly pose them.
I like to think that shoots with me are enjoyable rather than work and
that the personality of the model shows through. I shoot a lot of images
rather than a few specific ones and often find that the outtakes are
as appealing as the shots I sought. Laughter is a great icebreaker.
Laughter and lots of fag/coffee breaks are the key! Developing film
I leave to the professionals… Digital, I do all my post-processing
in Photoshop. I try not to over post though. Models are real people
and shouldn’t look like plastic.
You use Photoshop as a common tool in your works. Would you say
that photography is coming into a digital age?
Photography ‘is’ in the digital age. Photoshop
is a digital darkroom pure and simple as that. If used properly, everything
that could be done of old such as cross-processing, burning, over exposure
etc can be done digitally and so much more on top. Goodbye messy chemicals
and hello bright and spangley PC!
You always say that you’re simply portraying the models
as they really are in your photos. How much input do you give them before
the shoot and do they contribute?
I really do portray the models as themselves! Some of my regulars,
Missy and Phoenix Blood for example, work with me because we can collaborate
and produce some great stuff together. They are my muses, my best friends
and often my sanity. Other models come to the shoot as themselves and
I let them be themselves. They portray themselves as they want to be
portrayed. Very occasionally do I have long drawn out discussions pre-shoot.
If a model is a glamour model and I want to shoot her in a fetish style
I’ll spring it on her with as little time as possible for her
to worry. I like the rabbit caught in the headlights look!
Do you feel that each picture you take tells a story?
Nope! I’d like to think that each model shoot shows some
kind of emotion that was there during the day or that each of my one-offs
shows a little how I was thinking at the time but story? No.
Pinky art seems to be the comic relief side of what you do. A
respite from the models and the serious edge some photos have. Do you
enjoy doing this and are you a closet anime fan?
I love the Pinky stuff! To take a craze/convention that already
existed and turn it on it’s head… What isn’t to love?
The Japanese and current Pinky fans are still doing the same old stuff.
Pinky in Rome, Pinky in Paris… Only in my gallery will you find
Pinky Seal Clubbing and Pinky Bukkake. Haha… Closet Anime fan…
nothing closet about it my friend. Tried and tested anime fan. Hayao
Miyazaki is the MAN! I’ve been following anime since Akira was
released and the only way to get it in the UK was on dodgy video copies
with no subbing or dubbing. (Kinda showing my age!)
What was the first camera you ever owned and do you still have
it there somewhere?
That’s asking… The first camera I can remember owning
was an Olympus Trip 35mm. (Ask your parents!) It was good enough for
David Bailey according to the ads. I don’t have it now…
What camera do mostly you use now?
A Canon 1Ds Mark II. I <3 Canon!
Your photos feature a lot of nudity, which most of us consider
completely natural as artists. Do you get a lot of negative mail about
I get some negative mail, not a great deal but always on content
and never on technique. Most people are accepting of ‘artistic
nude’ but are still prudish about ‘porn’. I shoot
porn for a living amongst other things so I have no problem with it
of course. Badly shot porn I have a problem with but only aesthetically.
What is your standing on the art/porn debate?
I honestly don’t think there’s much of a difference
between art and porn. Badly shot porn is made for masturbation…
well shot artistic nudes can still be masturbated over if the model
appeals to the viewer. Well shot porn can be very artistic, see the
works of Petter Hegre, Bob Coulter or Richard Kern. My personal standing
is that art is subjective. The saying that light is the thing that separates
artistic nude from porn is poppycock. It’s composition, lighting,
location, model and feel… It all comes down to the viewer in the
If you could say one thing to the people out there who moan about
it, what would it be?
Get a life and look at the architectural galleries instead of
coming here to complain about something you didn’t want to look
at in the first place.
What is your opinion on so-called ‘fine’ or ‘modern’
To be honest I like what I like. I like Degas, his capture of the human
form was superb. I also like the work of Jack Vettriano again for his
capture of form. I spend time walking the galleries in London and my
opinion regarding art whether fine or modern is the same as my opinion
on photography; if it moves me in some way I like it. If it doesn’t
I don’t. I’m a simple guy at heart.
And the Turner Prize?
C’mon, what’s not to like about a shed that turned
into a boat and then back into a shed? Or the room where the lights
went on and off in five second intervals? Perhaps it’s just me
but I think some of the reasoning behind this art is pretentious. Wander
around the Tate Modern and everything seems to have a reason for being
and creation that runs deeper than the average Joe would ever care about.
Why not say… “I did it because I liked the idea of it”?
When I shot the Pinky Bukkake photo I had no motivation other than to
amuse myself. Myself and hopefully others. The idea came to me while
surfing Wikipedia for Japanese fetish and made me laugh so much I had
to shoot it. (Pun intended). When you look at the photo now, there is
no message about world peace or hidden motivation driven by an essay
regarding a cure for cancer, it is what it is… A Pinky covered
in what might or might not be ejaculate.
Your Deviantart Gallery showcases other artists that you have
found, do you spend a lot of time searching out other artists you like
to advertise them in this way or do they come to you?
I showcase work that I think needs to be seen by the people who
watch me that might not watch the gallery I showcase. Generally I showcase
the work of people that have befriended me or supported me during my
time on deviantART. I sometimes come across something I find mind-blowing
and need to show people but on the whole I give back the support I’m
given. I find surfing dA a chore sometimes. There is as much dross as
there is art. Perhaps I could start a dross showcase? Name and Shame!
Seriously… we all start at the bottom as did I and I hope I give
back as much as I got.
Other than photography, what art styles do you like?
Yuri floats my boat! Why can’t there be as much Yuri as
Yaoi on dA? I like some of the anime artists, I think that MySpace pics
(where you hold a camera above your head and try to look as emo/attractive
as possible) will one day become an art form and have their own gallery.
I like some digital art. I like traditional art. Anything goes in my
What advice would you give to people starting out?
Practice! Whatever your style, whatever your bag, practice. Practice,
post your work onto forums and online communities for feed back and
be respectful when criticised. You are not the best artist in the world
and people do know better. Accept that and learn and then practise some
I’ll end on something lighter, favourite food?
Comfort food… I love massive portions of Chilli Con Carne,
Spaghetti Bolognese, Sausages Egg and Chips. Chinese, Thai, Italian,
Sushi, BBQ Pork Buns from Chinatown bakeries, McDonalds, KFC. Should
I stop yet? It’s little wonder that I’m overweight!
And how are you getting on with Pokemon Pearl? What’s your
team line-up at the moment?
Just peachy! The ‘Elites’ are beaten and I’m
on a mission to level up and ‘catch ‘em all’. I’m
on a legendary and shiny hunt right now. My team at the moment are;
Kazza the Kadabra lv 100, Bettie the Bibarel lv 81, Sarah the Staraptor
lv 70, Katie the Kricketune lv 65 (deliberately kept low level for false
swipe and sing), Seth the Steelix lv34 (that needs some work) and Quan
the Quagsire that has a bunch of HM’s and is my utility Pokémon.
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me today Andy, it’s
been greatly appreciated. Feel free to drop by Coloring Dragons anytime,
we’d be glad to see you.