Scrolling through the Instagram feed of Andrew Edwards (@arclesscurve) is like flipping through the pages of an illustrated fairytale. Magical trees and fog, fall foliage, snowy pathways and hidden forest railways, Andrew captures some of the most beautiful landscapes in and around his hometown in England. As smitten as we are with his photography, we are equally impressed by the manner in which he uses Mextures to add an almost mystical feel to his work. Mixing in blues and browns and bits of gold and fade here and there, Andrew creates an inviting blend of warm and cool tones. Recently we talked to him about, well, pretty much everything. Read along!
Hello, my name is Andrew, and I am married with a lovely family comprised of three beautiful but diverse girls and one adorably daft Labrador dog called Libby. I currently call home Wigan, and I have done so for around 14 years now. Wigan (pronounced Wig-an) is situated in the northwest of England, UK and although Wigan is classed as an Urban town with an industrial past, it has a surprising amount of greenbelt land, around two-thirds, consisting of rural fields, a few woodland areas and the Wigan Flashes.
Life for me is currently filled with the trials and joys of raising my three girls, along with working in a CCTV monitoring concierge role to pay what always seems like never ending bills (I really need to win that lottery). Whilst the job I do has very long hours, I am lucky in that it is shift work and I get a generous four days off in between shift patterns. In that spare time I pursue my other love in life, running, which is where the pics come in. I’m also very fond of Reese’s and red wine. But not together...
Running is what attracted you to photography?
Yeah. I’ll explain. The whole thing with me taking pictures and joining Instagram all came together by a series of events in 2013. Before my current job, I was employed for a long time at a sports retail company that traded online, a regular 9-5 job, of which any running was always confined to evenings. Unfortunately the company closed as a result of the last global recession and with it went my job. After working there for 17 years, I found this period of time in life incredibly difficult and I struggled to find another job. I started running during the daytime and began exploring parts of the greenbelt around Wigan that I hadn’t visited before. It was also around this time I saw a friend post to Facebook via Instagram, which led me to discovering the Instagram app. After seeing very few pictures from the rural part of Wigan, I slowly began taking the odd picture here and there on my iPhone whilst out running and sharing the results online. Not long after this, I found my current job, and the resultant nature of shift work and time off enabled me to carry on with this newly found hobby of “photography” and “instagramming”.
How did you get in to the world of Instagram?
As I mentioned, it came about in 2013 after I saw a friend on Facebook post a picture or reference a picture to their Instagram account. I think curiosity got to me and I ended up in the App Store having a browse over what all the fuss was. It all started from there and I began by following my personal friends that were already using the app. I soon began following a lot of other accounts - a pretty diverse mix at first - city feeds, landscape feeds, food feeds, and I got seriously blown away by what I found. It was amazing to see other parts of the world that I could only dream of. I was both awestruck and mesmerised. At first I posted pics of daily life, like chocolate treats, mugs of tea, odd building pics, generic living stuff. After a while I began taking pics on my iPhone whilst out running, and began to slowly share them online. It took a while before I started to get much interaction on the account and there were times I'd post a pic and get a few likes if I was lucky. But as time progressed, I had a shake up of the account, and deleted stuff off, and began to focus on the nature side of Wigan. From there I started to make more of an effort in being more active in the whole community side and from there I began connecting with more and more Instagrammers from around the world.
With that being said, what is it that keeps you taking pictures?
If I'm honest with myself, I don't think there’s a definitive answer, and I guess its a combination of reasons. The interest seems to have changed over the last two years. Initially I was snap happy and took pictures of anything and everything. At first the running suffered, and became an absolute nightmare; I easily spent more time taking pictures than running. It would go something like, oh there’s a nice tree, stop take ten pictures, all at differing angles, oh I like that sky, stop, take another ten pictures, and so on. I guess after spending some time reading photography tutorials, honing up some basic photo skills and trying to put a lot of what I read in to practice, I've become more comfortable and I guess ultimately a lot more selective in what I prefer to take pictures of. To a certain point, out there amidst nature, taking pictures in the fog, or seeing a sunset, trying to capture the moment or emotion, it’s pure joy. It makes me happy and it’s a good way to escape from the hub drub of life. I think for as long as I keep experiencing these days and moments and the ability to share with others what I see through Instagram, I'll keep taking pictures.
After you’ve taken a picture, how do you typically go about editing it?
A lot depends on how I feel and what I feel like posting and what has already been posted to my gallery. I always try to keep the gallery as mixed as possible, so I avoid posting similar subjects such as back to back sunsets. Usually I'll have a look at the pics and decide which one I want to go with. Sometimes I hold on to certain pics for days, sometimes weeks, before I'm in the mood to have a dabble editing it.
Once I've gotten past my own indecisiveness, I head straight in to Mextures and begin with having a look at how the pic sits once I've applied a few of the formulas I've already created. Since I began editing with Mextures over a year ago I've built up over 100 formulas. So depending on the pic I find there's always something that works. If it's looking good and looks how I want it to feel, I'll play around with adding or subtracting a few textures - usually from the Landscape or Atmospheric packs - before tidying up with some refinements to the temperature, exposure and sharpening. From there it's either straight to Instagram for the inevitable caption deliberation or VSCO if I feel it needs softening up with a filter.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
I was pretty much won over from the very first time I used Mextures over a year ago and I still proudly have my first ever Mextures pic in the gallery. It marked a turning point, from which I started experimenting and taking the editing side a lot more seriously. And whilst I've dabbled with other apps, none for me have even come close to being able to give me the versatility of what Mextures does.
I love that the formulas give me my own customized filters and that I can apply them when time is short, tweak and post. Or, if time allows, the depth is astonishing, and the ability to create is endless. You can take an image, edit it numerous times and each time finish up with a completely different piece depending on how you want to take the pic. Or you can just stick one or two layers on that make some ever so subtle changes to the tone and feel, yet still give a natural pic. Couple all of this with the community aspect, through formula sharing, Mextures features and Mextures Collective rounds, and it feels like much more than just another photo editing app.
Speaking of your formulas, would you mind sharing a few?
BYGONE TIMES - VZAZMFX - A 7-layer sunset formula that utilizes some Winter Skies in soft light to darken the sky, whilst at the same time brings out the colour and light on the ground.
FRIDAY - IXRXJUV - A simple 4-layer formula that softly darkens foggy pics whilst bringing through some of the colours of the surroundings.
FOREST LIGHT - REQPUKI - Bokeh Baby and Sunflower from the Light Leaks pack, combined with a few other textures to really pop and colour those sun kissed forest light rays you sometimes see whilst retaining the natural forest colours.
MOODY MONDAY - IELBKDJ - Self explanatory in the formula name. Transforms relatively plain pics into something more moody.
What has been your favorite photo that you’ve captured so far?
Favourite pic... It's such a difficult one to call and after going through my feed a good few times now, I'll go with this rather whimsical pic taken in June that I have a soft spot for. It has a delicate, calming, serene feel to it and a peaceful mood that really appeals to me.
Who are the people that have most inspired your photography and creative process?
That's such a difficult question to give an answer to. I wouldn't personally class myself as a typical photographer. I'm more inspired by certain themes and moods. Maybe it's an unusual source, but Tim Burton’s vision for the film "Sleepy Holllow" is a good example. Some of the foggy woodland and visual atmospheric moods are really something else. There's definitely been a few pics posted to my gallery on the back of seeing that film.
Instagram itself is an entirely different kettle of fish and I'm constantly in awe of some of the pics I come across. This list could go on forever, but off the top of my head the following spring to mind:
Renee (@_krsmith) - Who I found via Mextures after seeing one of her pics featured in the favourite edits article in the News Section. I adore her work and she's always been supportive and helpful.
Erin (@erinoldfieldart) - I just love how she captures her side of the world. Her captions and emotions have had me hooked and inspired for a long time.
Piri (@iphotography_ch) - You only have to go and take a look at his feed to see why he gives me constant inspiration. He continually raises the bar and is constantly posting phenomenal pics.
Ida (@ikvile) and Katja (@katja_marian) are always inspiringly on point for the Mextures edits and formulas and I'm always inspired by the edits that Francesco (@eleathar) and Kevin (@eppytaff) continually produce.
Finally, props to Carl (@landofnirvana) who I've known on Instagram for a long time and was the first person I ever collaborated with. He’s a genuine all round top guy who has been nothing but supportive and a source of inspiration and advice ever since.
Make sure you check out more of Andrew’s work here!