Andrew Mc Gibbon is a photographer and has been making images for a living for seven years. In 2010 he was second runner-up in our Selected Creatives Competition, with his photography showcased Issue 19, the “Cities Alive” issue. In case you missed it, here’s an interview with did with Andrew at the end of 2011.




Who is Andrew McGibbon?

I am a contradiction. The saint, the sinner.

Today, I am at peace, full of hope for tomorrow. Tomorrow I might be clasping at the edge of calm, sinking into the storms that readily rise – a sea of change.
I am full of love and embody holiness, yet capable of harsh judgment and expectation.

I believe that the best way to describe the universe, everything we see and know and don’t know yet, is that of a thought in the mind of God, the ultimate creator. I believe, echoes of the first act of creation resonates within each of us.
I create because that echo is strong in me, ever present, inspiring me and directing me – I could do nothing else.

I believe that we can see the journey of the universe in the eyes of everyone around us, in their faces, it shines so plain to all – we must simply see.

I am a photographer – a son, a husband, and someday a dad.

Was there a moment in your life when you knew: ‘I want to become a photographer’ or was it just a natural outcome?

I would have to say, it was a bit of both. If I look back to my late teens and early twenties, I can see a clear path that was somewhat unveiled for me to follow. Some call it coincidence, some call it the hand of God, whatever it was, it was bigger than me and I followed it without much thought. The path of a river is not very thought out by the river. It flows through the path that the earth has for it, beginning as a little spring and ending as a raging torrent. Nothing will ever truly stop a river (though we like to dam them up, literally and metaphorically) a river will cut its way through or around any obstacle. I like to live like a river.

Having said that, there was time when I knew that the evidence in my life indicated a passion and skill for photography and thought, ‘I want to become a photographer’.

Film or digital?

I shoot digital. Mainly because in the commercial world there is no time anymore for slow turn around. I have also embraced the world of digital compositing in the last few years and enjoy the freedom of creating as many plates as I like and combing them later in post-production. I also like seeing the results immediately.I did learn on film though, I assisted for three years before digital was something commercially viable, so I have many hours experience reloading film cartridges.I hold no sentimental thoughts for it.

Your first roll of film you developed; do you remember what this was?

Well, I don’t know if it was the ‘first’ roll I ever developed but it was definitely one of the first ones, once I had started taking an interest in shooting. It was of a weekend away with my friends at the Umdloti ski boat club. Some of the photos were somewhat questionable, involving a little bit of pot. Only after getting them developed did I realize it wasn’t such a great idea. I feel so sorry for the young and reckless now days, in my day (I know that makes me sound really old!) we could go out, be silly and not wake up to our incriminating photos tagged all over facebook.

How – stylistically and technically– has your photography changed since you began?

Stylistically, I wouldn’t say it’s changed so much as matured. My work has always been described most widely as ‘bright and clean’. I think, even if I’m shooting a mafia torture scene, it will still be bright and clean.

Technically, as mentioned briefly in question three, I have become quite fond of digital composites. To do this, I shoot all the aspects of the photograph, including all human subjects, separately, lighting each one as I want and then put them all together later. Again, I haven’t so much changed to this, just added it – I still really love creating a shot ‘in camera’ especially if there are multiple elements that some together for a split second in time and only ever seen through my lens – a great example of this is my new project “Super Colour”.

You get your inspiration from love, mystery, fairy-tale and 1980’s action films – can you elaborate, and provide some references? Ever thought of moving into video production/directing?

Love and mystery are the easiest to explain as I think most of us want them in our lives and if you don’t want mystery, you probably want to be described as mysterious. I like to make images that cause people to feel something, not just cognitively appreciate the work. The word aesthetic literally means ‘to feel’ an anaesthesiologist helps people not feel pain, I help people feel love and mystery… At least, that’s what inspires me.

As for fairy-tales and 1980’s action films… They are both full of outrageous characters and entirely far-fetched story lines but we love them! We want to be the main character, our heart yearns for it. Girls want to be Cinderella and boys want to be Jean Claude Van Damme… well, you get what I mean, they’re the same.

I will most definitely move into directing. I am busy working with screenplay writer on a pilot episode for a TV series that’s been in my mind for a while. We’re really excited about the concept and the basic synopsis! If we pull it off, it should be a hit. Besides that, I shoot a lot of album covers and will probably move into music video directing. I will always be a photographer though.

I have recently bought a bunch of new gear, including some really fancy lights and I have set up my own studio. (Previously I would hire both lights and studio for ridiculous amounts of money per day, limiting the amount of personal work I could push out). Having access to these things has given me the ability to explore 10 years worth of ideas, which is really key in showing the commercial world what you are able to achieve. So, along with some on-going projects, like ‘Super Colour’, I am working on a new portrait exhibit as well as an adventure series (these will be highly composited images where I’ll get to really explore my 1980’s fairy-tale).

Where are you now? Creatively… whatever that means.
Where are you headed?

Creatively? Literally? I need to go further and bigger, always pushing for the best image. A pretty well known British photographer ‘Rankin’ said, that a photographer’s best picture is the one he has yet to take (I’m paraphrasing but it was something like that), so I guess I’m headed up? I want my images to start featuring well known faces so maybe I’ll hop the boarder from Mexico and head north to LA.

Are you a voyeur?


Any regretted prints?

Besides the incriminating evidence from my youth… No.

Do you feel safe behind the lens?

Very. Sheesh, these questions keep getting easier!

What is on your bedroom walls?

Nothing. (My wife and I are slowly building up our home and there are a bunch of prints we want to make but haven’t yet.)

Finish this sentence:

“In five days time I willhave shot a campaign for a clothing label, a campaign for a new mobile creative platform launching in SA, shot and composited two album covers, gone on a date with my wife, played 9 holes of golf, watered my lemon tree, given love-energy to my Venus fly trap, drank some wine, had a skype meeting with a script writer in Joburg and slept for approximately 43 hours.

What process do you go through when taking producing prints? Any rituals? Favourite songs… weird habits?

While I’m shooting, I love to have electronic music playing, like Röyksopp or Telefon Tel Aviv, something subtle yet energetic, soothing and hypnotic. While I’m editing, I prefer folk music like Bon Iver or Jose Gonzalez. When we’re on set, I make my assistant layout all the gear really neatly, in a straight line if possible, I guess this helps me feel like I am in control of the shoot and that it will help the outcome.

Oh yes, a nice big Cuban cigar while shooting in studio sets the vibe so nicely!

Is life moving too fast?

I guess in some ways, I never have enough time to get everything done… Especially on the post production side of things. I’m always multi-tasking when on my mac. In other ways, it can’t move any slower… Durban has its limits, but I’ll say more on that later on.


You’re a frequent user of the social media Facebook and Twitter on your blog. Is it important, you think, to connect with your fans and public by using social media?

Totally, it’s all about being known. You can be the best photographer in the world but if no one knows you then you count for nothing. Facebook, twitter and my blog are ways to keep people interested in what I’m busy with and let them know when there is new work on the website. At least 90 percent of my clients have come through the web in one way or another. It’s also a really great way to get feedback from the public on your work and the fact that someone would call themselves my fan is totally awesome!

Tell us something I haven’t thought of asking.

I will travel and work for money.

You value imagination and emotion over rationality while you’re creating. If you did it the opposite way, what would happen, you think?

Well, I photograph people, so if I had to approach that with only my rational mind, the images would probably be lifeless, flat and uninteresting. If I were to approach a totally different subject matter and even use a different medium I would then be in the realm of conceptual art, I appreciate conceptual art but have never felt much for it. I guess I do things this way because it’s just who I am, I couldn’t do it any other way, if I tried, I would probably fail.

You’re born in Johannesburg, but you’re living in Durban now. Is there any chance you’ll leave South Africa for your work?

Yes. I really love my clients and I don’t want to devalue them at all but if we could we would probably leave tomorrow.
My wife is from Belo Horizonte, Brazil and has always lived the city life and I would LOVE to be in a city where there is room for my photography to grow. New York , LA, Berlin, Singapore, London are all places we would go. Unfortunately neither of our passports counts for much globally so the door for us is not yet open.

Cape Town is a very viable option for the near future but I guess fear holds us back for now. It has taken so long to build up client here and the though of starting from scratch is daunting.

What’s next?

Following onfrom the previous thought, I am slowly making contacts in Cape Town, and I will continue to push for work down there while being based up here. And, going back to the beginning, there is something bigger than me unveiling the steps of my life and I have a peace and ease that when the time is right, the door will open and we’ll walk on through. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be exciting.

Thanks Andrew, take it easy, love your work.

In Issue 19 of one small seed, Andrew McGibbon as one of the winners of Selected Creatives. Click here to see who the winners were for our latest Selected Creatives, and keep posted to one small seed network to see who has made it in for voting in Selected Creatives 06.


Interview by: Saskia van Diermen

Photography: Andrew McGibbon