Page 1

Words: Phil Dawson Photographs: Andrew Zuckerman


t first glance you would not picture Andrew Zuckerman as a band photographer, but that is exactly where he started out at the age of 14. Four years later he was enrolling at SVA (New York’s School of Visual Arts) and in 1999 he received his Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. After leaving SVA he assisted artist Christopher Astley before setting-up his own studio apartment to focus solely on photography. “My first job was working for Vogue. I would shoot still lifes of bags and shoes. The Vogue art directors were really specific. We had to have a perfectly white background and it had to be beautifully done.” Clearly that experience stuck with Zuckerman and had a profound effect on what is now his trademark style - a subject emphasised by a stark white background. He continued his work in advertising by working with Adidas, IBM, Puma and American Express. Andrew went on to form production company Late Night & Weekends with good friend and creative partner Alex Vlack, later working on spots and stills for brands Puma and Gap. The duo also produced High Falls - an award-winning short-film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard - and Still Bill - the 2009 documentary film about soul singer Bill Withers. Apple were next in line for Zuckerman’s talents, and his ultra simplistic look worked perfectly with the Apple brand. He has worked on campaigns for the iPad, iPhone, Mac Book Air, iPad 2 and hugely a successful short promoting FaceTime for the iPhone 4. Throughout his career he has picked up numerous awards, including the British

Design and Art Direction (D&AD) Yellow Pencil for photography, which he regards as his proudest. This was awarded for work on his Expansion series, which explores the big bang theory. The series features eggs, oysters, water balloons and flowers all being shot with a high-powered air rifle. Zuckerman’s Hasselblad H2 with Leaf Aptus 75S digital back would capture the action at it’s most explosive, by freezing the scene with high-speed flash at 1/6000th of a second. “The sound of the gun is actually what takes the image,” he explains. With the gun mounted 6ft from the object and the pellet travelling at 1000ft/sec achieving a good shot would take a fair amount of patience and “a lot of trial and error.”

Water Balloon / Expansion

will be forever famed for the sleek and stylish studio aesthetic found in his books Creature, Wisdom, Bird and Music. Andrew has discussed his unique style in the past, saying

“These images are an attempt to reveal an underlying consciousness that all living things share” In addition to his studio work, Andrew also has a strikingly beautiful array of architectural, landscape and industrial images. He has photographed Kenya, Japan, China and Johannesburg, portraying and defining each place in a way that still boasts his love for isolating the subject. Despite the clear quality of these photographs, Zuckerman

“I try to create an arena that’s really clean and clear so that my subject or my collective subjects are easily understood and not clouded by style or extraneous information. I tend to elevate my subjects by reducing the elements around them. I’m interested in the bare essence of the subject.” The first project that saw this concept in action came in 2007 and was titled Creature. It features 175 different species from all over the world, from lions to parrots, and bears to geckos, all in breath-taking detail. This remains his largest project to date, spanning five years from inception to publication, and continues to grow, even now. In his epilogue to the book, he gives an indication of what makes him so passionate and what he looks to portray when photographing creatures, “The resulting portraits explore not just the forms, textures, and movements of the creatures, but, more importantly, their characters. These images are an attempt to reveal an underlying consciousness that all living things share.” Despite the [15]

Chimpanzee / Creature / 2007

beautiful simplicity of every image in the Creature series, a great deal of time and hard work was spent on bringing the project to fruition. Many of the images show rare, protected and dangerous species, which required photographing as close to home as possible. A total of 13 cases of equipment were transported across the globe by Zuckerman’s four man team, something which they are now quite accustomed to after the packed schedule they tackled when working on Wisdom, Zuckerman’s second large project. During the print process for Creature, Andrew was contacted and asked to contribute a photograph and interview to a book featuring elders talking about

“We had trips where we did eight shoots in eight days in five countries. It was an insane project” their experiences. He recalls “I thought about it and I wasn’t really interested in doing one. I wanted to do the whole book.” The idea had spiked his curiosity and he “was addicted to the idea of completing the whole project.” Talking about what drives him when working on projects, like Wisdom,

Zuckerman believes he needs two key elements for success - curiosity and rigour. When they “get together, something happens.” he says.

Macaw / Bird / 2009



Andrew’s team were pushed hard in the nine months it took to photograph and film the 51 participants of the Wisdom project, who included the likes of Chuck Close, Frank Gehry, Judi Dench, Clint Eastwood and Desmond Tutu. “We had trips where we did eight shoots in eight days in five countries. It was an insane project.” he recalls. They even flew to South Africa to meet with Mandela for three minutes, but were not allowed to use lights. Somehow, Andrew and his team managed to get the image, make it seamlessly fit the series and wind up on the cover of Time magazine for Mandela’s 90th birthday. Following the success of Wisdom, Zuckerman began work on Bird, which was to be another hyper-detailed series of 2D taxidermy. The project, released in 2009, featured over 70 species of birds and once again gave us an insight into a world we are rarely able to appreciate. Andrew spends a lot of time researching his subjects and approached Bird with the

idea of revealing the unseen. “these images provide an experience where we can spend time looking at the physical make-up of the bird.” he suggests. His bird photographs are an homage to the watercolours of ornithologist John James Audubon. Both he, and Zuckerman managed to capture the true magnificence of birds, but in their own respective eras. The most recent release to come from Zuckerman’s New York studio is Music - a project following the same concept as Wisdom, featuring artists, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lenny Kravitz, Iggy Pop and Ravi

Flower / 2012

Shankar sharing their thoughts on the subjects of performance, collaboration, inspiration and success. The project was released in 2010 as a book, film and iPad application. The portraits were typically simple. There’s not an instrument in sight, but that’s not a surprise given the concept-driven style Zuckerman likes to produce. With Music, he wanted to “break down the concerns musicians have in an effort to demystify the process and create a deeper understanding of the medium.”, essentially attempting to define what music is to the people who make it. Yet again he succeeds in isolating huge personalities and showing them as equals through a simple portrait. Looking to the future, recent tweets from Zuckerman would suggest a November 2012 release of Flower - a hyper-real project featuring photographs of some of the worlds most interesting and beautiful flowers. Find more at

Iggy Pop / Music / 2010

Esther Mahlangu / Wisdom / 2008 WWW.PHOTOGRAPHYMAG.CO.UK


Phil's Mag  

Phil Dawson's Case Study

Phil's Mag  

Phil Dawson's Case Study