PhotoShelter photographer Andy Biggs is passionate about African Safaris and animal imagery, and it shows in his work. Biggs recently landed a big deal with Banana Republic; they’re using his images in stores, on billboards and in window displays as part of their Summer 2008 advertising campaign. The images are all black&white, and are calm and classy; this is a thinking-man’s safari. Biggs was lovely and cooperative and answered all my questions about his work, and gave me the dirt on the Banana Republic deal.
Tell me how you got started shooting safari images, and nature images in general; has it been a long-time career for you, have you been able to make a living from it?
My wife and I took a month and a half long trip to East Africa a number of years ago, and I fell in love immediately. I had finally found what I was passionate about. I had not earned a dime with my photography at that point, but when we returned home I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my photography: capture images that stir the soul from a new found place for me. I do have a business background, and I have been mindful to bring business discipline into a creative career. I try to spend my time working on things that benefit the business, whether marketing, sales or relationships with other companies or photographers.
I began my photographic career leading a workshop or two in Africa each year, and now it has turned into a business where I am leading up to six or seven photographic safaris and workshops in a year, augmented by other photographers that help me out with a few more.
Whenever people think about anything safari or African, I want them to think about my photography and my photographic safaris.
How did this Banana Republic deal come about; was it like anything you’d been involved with before (have you made a lot of corporate sales, or more editorial, or neither)?
The process has been extremely simple, really. I was contacted through my website to see if I would be interested in licensing my photographs out to Banana Republic for their summer 2008 campaign. We went through a few rounds of image selections, using Photoshelter and
a few private galleries I had set up just for them. This allowed stakeholders on both coasts to view and select images that fit their specific needs. Once I had a better idea about what they wanted to portray, I was able to expand the collection of images and pull from my 50,000 image archive. Once the images were selected, I pulled my agent in to negotiate the terms of the deal. It couldn’t have been a better process.
Biggs at an in-store signing of his work. Photo by Stan Jirman.
African wildlife photography is a very unique niche in the stock photography marketplace, and I feel proud to have my name and my photography associated with Banana Republic. They are using 13 of my images in many different ways, but the most visible is their use in store fronts and interior decor in all of their stores around the globe.
photo by Stan Jirman
What was the experience of dealing with the Banana Republic folks, and
what has it done for your career? What’s the licensing on
I am definitely getting more interest in my photographs, and a
result my print sales have been great as of late. I have also been
approached by some big name companies for sponsorship, which is a
win-win for both parties.
Banana Republic has licensed a selection of my images for exclusive
use, worldwide, with no restrictions for 4 months. I am evaluating
additional inquiries for these images, and hope to have some more deals
lined up in the years ahead. I will start working on a portrait project
in Africa in 2009, and I look forward to spending more time creating a
new body of work.
Banana Republic Billboard, NYC
What’s an image from your archive that was a real triumph to capture? Are there any fan favorites (ie: do giraffes sell better than lions?)
Well, I always try to communicate three different things in my images: timelessness, remoteness and hope. So the challenge is finding these three things at the same time. I am most proud of my Elephants and Clouds image, as we followed a small family of elephants around for a few hours. Trying to line up these beautiful animals with the big, puffy clouds, as well as have a clean background was a challenge. I don’t like to stress out the wildlife, so hanging back and using a longer lens allows me to have the animals more relaxed.
The less aggressive animals have done much better for me from a sales standpoint, such as zebras, giraffes, elephants and any young animal. Lion and cheetah cubs are always favorites.
Two Giraffe Heads II, Lake Manyara, 2007
Portrait of a Lioness, Serengeti, 2006
Where is a place where you’ve never shot that you’d like to go?
I cannot wait to visit Antarctica in 2010, when I will be leading a workshop on a private charter ship. I cannot wait to experience something completely different than what I see in Africa.
For more Andy Biggs musings, check out his blog.
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