If you've had questions about the people behind all these pictures, this is the series for you! We talk to some of our independent photographers from all corners of the globe as well as the people behind some of the best stock photo and illustration collections in the world.
Today we're speaking with Andrew Kolb, a professional photographer born in England but now based out of Toronto, Canada. His stock photography focusses on still-life, running the gamut from food to historical ephemera, like war medals, love letters, used passports and family photos as well as quirky slice of life shots. His portfolio also includes very emotive, mostly non-traditional portraits which are sometimes hand-colored. There’s often a unique intersection of photography and painting in his work. His influences include the paintings of Albrecht Dürer, David Hockney and Andy Warhol as well as the photography of Tony Ray-Jones, Josef Kudelka and August Sander. He produces high end corporate portraits for clients such as Macquarie Private Wealth, RichardsonGMP, TD Securities, Foss National Leasing and others. He has been on Masterfile’s roster since 1999.
You'll see his images featured throughout the interview below (including his handwritten response to our questions!) but we've also picked some our favorite images from his portfolio in this new theme gallery.
How did you get started in photography?
My father was a photographer during WWII. Occasionally he would let me fiddle with his camera. Not long after that, it went from being a toy to a tool.
What was your first camera?
The first camera I bought with my own money was a Yashica TL Electro rangefinder… I did have access to my brother’s Exacta as well.
Who or what inspires your work?
Other (established) photographers… (Richard) Avedon, (Diane) Arbus, Tony Ray Jones... more recently, Jonas Fredwall Karlsson, Annie Leibowitz.
What’s your favourite subject matter?
Describe your style?
In my personal work, I am a symmetry nut.. usually nothing is off centre. Humour, sarcasm, and quirkiness are words that can describe my work.. In my professional work, simplicity, honesty and a certain “Go to Hell” attitude about subject, equipment etc.
What’s the longest you’ve waited for a shot?
5 seconds… Very impatient. If it’s not there, oh well!
Longest time to get the perfect studio shot?
5 minutes for tabletop work… Less is more. And my still life images do not show any evidence of being overworked and/or too complicated to look at. BTW, working in a studio only increases your overhead and has nothing to do with the quality of your image. It does, however, boost your ego, if indeed it needs boosting.
What gear do you use?
I’m a Nikon fan… Always used it. 16MP D7000 w/16-85 and SB910 flash.
When travelling, what gear do you take?
Same as above and usually a film camera… More importantly, I stuff it all into an old Danish School Bag. Very useful.
You still use a film camera?
Yes, I use a FRANKA SOLIDA II IZO folding camera… it belonged to my father and it was the same one I played with as a kid.. Made in Germany (U.S. Zone) is stamped on the back. Schneider Lens, very sharp!
What is your favourite MUST HAVE item?
Danish School Bag and more recently, iPhone 6 Plus.
What was your first Photography job?
I shot for a local newsletter which dealt with the disco scene in Toronto. Unpaid, of course!
Most Bizarre Job?
Made portrait of (unmentionable) Toronto client for her lover in Italy.
What’s the craziest thing you did?
Put on funny hats and silly glasses and put toys on my head to photograph kids.
Do you work alone or in a team?
Presently, alone… In the past, 1 assistant.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you do?
Carpentry—anything to do with wood.
Do you have a favourite season to shoot in?
I DETEST WINTER!!!
Favourite place to shoot?
What are your “go to” props?
Anything that happens to be lying around.
Where do you find your models?
Generally, they find me, but in a stretch, I will ask anyone.
What are your personal projects?
Photo wise… Rescanning old b+w negatives from 1980 to 2000. Personal work…Started painting again this year. Haven’t painted since university in the 1980s. Painting on recycled wood (fence boards, shelves, etc.) Subject matter involves propaganda, cartoons and postage stamps.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
Cycling. TV. Scotch. Baking.
Love typewriter type and Times New Roman, but I just discovered a typeface that I have no clue as to name. (see attached)
iPhone 6 app called TinType…. Makes everything you shoot look like an old battered polaroid pos/neg.
Favorite TV Show?
All tied for 1st place: Modern Family, Lilyhammer, Sopranos, Saxondale, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sacrificio de Mujer.
All tied for 1st place: Local Hero, Withnail and I, Blow Up, A Mighty Wind, Scent of a Woman, Death in Venice.
Favorite Musician/ Band?
Bands: Cream, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Los Lobos.
Musician: David Bowie.
Favorite Fine Artist?
Photographer: Richard Avedon, Robert Frank.
Painter: Lucien Freud, Andy Warhol
What are you reading now?
Re-reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Also a big fan of PD James.
Anything else to know?
I am an extremely lazy photographer but someone has given me a bit of talent and a creative mind.
Favorite Mantra or Saying?
Have a good time, all the time. (Spinal Tap).