A love of travelling, camping and four wheel driving has led to plenty of photo opportunities for talented photographer Andrew Hardman, but he also very much loves the New England area and its scenic beauty. Andrew is always keen to try new things, learn new techniques and hone his skill behind the lens, so he can provide his clients with the best possible outcome …
Hi Andrew. What led you to live in/set up base in Armidale?
I have lived all my life in Armidale; my family has a long and extensive history in the area. I went to school at The Armidale School (TAS) from Year 2 to Year 11, until I left school and joined the family business.
At this time I completed my mechanics trade, and at the same time I was a serving member of the Australian Army, where I served with 12th 16th Hunter River Lancers.
I met my wife here and have now started our family here. I love the outdoors and four-wheel driving. Throughout the New England there are so many different areas to explore; I am still not sure if I have seen half of the amazing area out there yet.
What do you most love about the New England area?
The New England area is so amazing for different adventures. In every direction you go, there is something new to explore and things to take photos of, whether it’s landscapes, waterfalls, gardens or animals in their natural habitat.
I also do a lot of storm chasing in the summer months, and the New England area does not let me down with different backdrops. I also love all the colours for photo opportunities to capture in autumn. Wow! I just love it.
What’s your back story “behind the lens” … where did the interest in photography begin for you?
I would have to say I got the bug for photography when I was at school, where I learnt with a film SLR camera and did all my own darkroom processing. It gave me a very good understanding of the principles of photography. Back then you could not just look at the back of the camera and go delete – better take another one. You had one go, and then it was to the darkroom to see your results.
Learning this way has definitely given me a better appreciation of the art behind photography. These days it has got a lot easier, but also harder. You can check your work right there and then, but I still push myself to get it just right now. The things you can do now with effects and processes are endless, and I am constantly learning new things and techniques.
I discovered you on social media through your stark, amazingly beautiful photos of Australia in the throes of drought. Where have your travels taken you around this vast country of ours in the past year or so?
Unfortunately, with a young family and work commitments I haven’t been able to travel as far over the past few years; however, with the vast landscapes in and around New England you don’t actually have to travel far.
I do, however, do a lot of camping, which has taken me to all different parts of NSW. I would have to say one of my most favourite spots is the “Big Hill”, which is on the Old Kempsey Road. I have seen lots of changes over the past year down there, with the drought affecting all areas. The main change that amazed me was the Macleay River, where I could walk across the width of the river and not get wet. I have never seen it that low before.
Another favourite place is Copmanhurst, near Grafton. It’s a great camping spot with heaps of historical spots, including hand built tunnels. I will definitely be going back there for sure, with the considerable range of things to photograph.
What impact has viewing our dry landscape with a photographer’s eye had on you?
The impact of the drought has been one of amazement at just how quickly the landscape changes when there is very little rain. A visual thing I have noticed, which I have never seen before, is the gum trees starting to die.
The resilience of the farmers … they put on a strong face, but gee it must be hard to see your stock wasting away to skin and bone right in front of you.
In the past few years I have got in to aerial drone photography, which has given me a perspective that I just never had before, including being able to see whole properties in one photo.
Some of your photos show a great talent for “light painting”. Please explain what this is and how the process works.
Light painting is a form of photography done at night using long exposures and different lights. It was a process that I stumbled across when I was searching the internet one night. I found a video of a guy using light to highlight a subject in a photo. The outcome was just awesome. It got me hooked.
I was out every night trying to learn the best settings and lights to use, as I’ve learnt all lights have different effects. I have worked to develop at least fifteen different lights and fire sources, which I can use to “paint” a photograph.
When you’re not travelling, what else inspires you to pick up the camera and start capturing images?
My little girl. It always amazes me, the expressions and innocence of children. They see the world with a sense of awe and amazement and often it’s over the littlest things, or things we take for granted. These expressions are always great to try to capture on camera, so I can keep a copy of these memories. Although it can be a challenging task, it is always worth the effort.
You’ve captured some beautiful wedding photos. What are some of your favourite wedding shoots/memories, and why do you like them?
I would have to say one of the best wedding shoots I did was at West Kunderang Recreational Retreat in the Oxley Wild River National Park. It is such an amazing spot – it’s so peaceful, and the landscape is just breathtaking.
It was a long day, but well worth the outcome. Mick and Emma love their four-wheel driving and camping, so it was a perfect spot for their special day and to reflect them as a couple.
What/who is something you’d like to photograph that you haven’t managed yet (and why)?
I would love to do a four wheel driving trip to Cape York. This trip would encompass so many of my hobbies in one adventure. This is one of the things that I have on my bucket list, which I will eventually do; however, ensuring we have all the time to do this and not rush is one of the biggest considerations. The massive array of countryside and scenery is a photographer’s dream.
Where can we contact you/see more of your work/book you for a shoot?
I have both a Facebook and Instagram page. You just need to search for Andrew Hardman Photography. Alternatively, you can email me at email@example.com or call me on 0402 764 857.
I’m always interested in new work, challenges and providing my clients the best outcome based on their individual needs and what they are really looking for as part of the photo shoot.
Interview: Jo Robinson.