Andrew Burton

Andrew Burton

Based
New York City, United States
Born
Milwaukee, United States
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 5D Mark II
“Photography has the rare ability to convey the visceral feeling of an event and a moment in time. My goal is to do that.”

Beat

My focus is news, which includes social movements, politics, the economy, breaking news and feature stories. However, I started in sports photography; I was an assistant during the Beijing Olympics and shot the winter Olympics in Vancouver.

One Shot

. NEW YORK. REUTERS/Andrew Burton
A protestor affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement smokes a cigarette while sitting on a police car.
“I took this picture while covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. On this morning, police raided Zuccotti park, the space where protestors had been encamped for just over two months, with incredible force. At times of upheaval, I find it equally important to document the mayhem, and the quieter moments. And while I photographed many outbursts between the two sides that morning, I was also drawn to this man, who was taking a break from the madness to smoke a cigarette while sitting on a police car. It was both an act of protest by sitting on the car, and an act of peace - he was sitting out the clashes for a few moments, catching his breath.”

Profile

My mum had a nice film SLR when I was growing up. I asked to use it whenever she had it out - family vacations, get-togethers, birthdays. I would blow an entire roll of film taking the same photo of the sunset, 24, 36 times over - much to her chagrin.

In high school, I always wanted to take the photography course, but it was a popular class, and I wasn't able to enroll until my senior year. I fell in love pretty quickly.

When I went to college, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in, though I knew I wanted it to be something visual: graphic design, or video, or photography. I took a few introductory courses in those subjects, and realised I was most drawn to photography. With photography, I loved - I still love - the idea of it being only you, a camera, and the news, documenting history in real time.

Technically, my first assignment would have been a "test assignment" for Oregon State University's student paper, “The Daily Barometer”. The assignment went terribly: I had never used a DSLR before, and didn't know how to control it. The paper emailed me the next day and told me I wasn't cut out for the job. But I really wanted the position. I emailed them back and told them that their decision was ridiculous, I would be shooting for them, no question about it. They wrote me back and told me, "ok, you've got an assignment tomorrow."

Watching the Egyptian people rise up was an amazing experience; I was watching 30 years of frustration collectively boil over and take control of a country.

As a member of the millennial generation, I think I've been most intrigued by Occupy Wall Street as an assignment. In my opinion, most generations in the past have had a cause to stand up and fight for, but, from my observations, the millennials seem more interested in the latest iPhone than in the numerous wars the United States has been involved in. So when Occupy started, I was interested to follow it. I have to admit, I was disappointed to see it fizzle out so quickly.

Social movements, revolutions, conflict, people taking control of their own destiny…. All of these assignments excite me. It's amazing to watch people come together for a single cause, to move forth with a single conviction and goal, to watch history unfold in the chaos.

The audience I have in mind when I take pictures is anyone who isn't there, who needs or wants or desires to understand what the action of the day and the greater environment of the scene feels like and looks like.

Photography has the rare ability to convey the visceral feeling of an event and a moment in time. My goal is to do that.

With editors: be honest and follow instructions. You can be the best photographer in the world, but if you can't obey a simple order - like being on time to an assignment, or making a deadline, or writing with a certain caption style, they're never going to hire you again. And if they think, for one moment, you're trying to pull the wool over their eyes, they have no reason to hire you.

With subjects: again, be open and honest. Your subjects are only going to allow you into their lives and allow you to photograph them if you're clear about why you're taking their photos.

I respect the photographers who, year in and year out, are documenting the world's events and giving a visual voice to humanity. Reuters has a great line-up - Goran Tomasevic, Finbarr O'Reilly, Adrees Latif, Damir Sagolj, just to name a few. I hope I can follow in their footsteps.

Behind the Scenes

. New York, United States. Scott Houston
Andrew Burton covers the Occupy Wall Street protests.