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Randal Ford’s tips for photographers

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by David Em
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Randal Ford is a photographer based in Austin, Texas. Learn from his experience to jumpstart your photography career.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Highland cow.

Interview with Randal Ford

Randal Ford is a photographer based in Austin, Texas. He’s well known for his work in the Animal Kingdom book, Texas Monthly, and with different brands.

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If you only had one lens, what would it be and why?

It would be a toss-up between a 35mm 1.4 or a 50mm 1.4 lens. I use these two lenses for 95% of my work.

I think I would lean towards the 35mm because of the diversity. You could create portraits with the lens and more environmental landscapes.

What drew you to your style of photography?

Richard Avedon has been a huge inspiration and influence on my work.

His composition and timeless lighting are close to perfection. The simplicity of the work is also a huge draw for me.

Recently, the works of Peter Lindberg has really been pulling me in close.

Can you tell us how the Animal Kingdom book came about?

10 years ago, renowned designer, DJ Stout of Pentagram, commissioned me to photograph a series of Dairy Cows in front of bright, poppy backgrounds.

On a cold, rainy November day we traveled to a small Dairy Farm and set up our studio lights and colored backgrounds.

That day, we brought to life the personalities of dairy cows in the form of animal portraiture. And I saw the potential of translating my people portraiture into animal portraiture.

That series of cows started the animal portrait collection that I have pursued.

For the next 5 years, I slowly added more animals into my portrait collection and eventually found myself with a body of work that I could approach a publisher with.

What’s the best piece of photography advice you’ve been given?

Make pictures, the rest will work itself out.

What’s one thing an aspiring photographer should focus on if they want to make photography a career?

Put commerce on the same plane as art. In other words, make the business aspect of photography equally as important as the art aspect.

Randal Ford

Write a business plan before you do this and really consider how viable it is. Get honest criticism and feedback to see if this is a path you want to go down. It’s a rewarding path but a very challenging one.

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Featured image courtesy of Randal Ford.

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