Photographer Josh Andrus grew up in a blue collar family from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he thought he’d spend his career working on cars in an auto body shop, but ended up making the decision to study classical music— not what you expected, right? Growing up he played in thrash metal bands, much different from his father’s career working on the railroads, or his mother’s, which was taking care of the rich elderly. When he decided to go to school for music, he already had the creative juices flowing. He was constantly experimenting with his music and how far he could push it, introducing many weird, out of the box things such as different time signatures.
He studied at Edinboro University, in North Pennsylvania near Eerie. His major was classical music, where he worked on classical guitar. While there, he was spending time with many different artists, spending the bulk of his time in animation and film labs. His interests completely shifted to this other medium of art, and his concentration switched over to media. Much of his early work made here is still relevant to the work he is making now, as it was rich in compositing and the subject matter was the sprawling landscape of his home state.
Upon graduating he moved to New York City to work for several years, where he worked in the fashion and editorial shooting worlds. He was the studio manager for a photographer in SoHo, assisted for FotoCare, and assisted a bunch of big name photographers. But because of his nature, Josh can’t stay put in one place for too long, so he took off to Amsterdam after his stint in NYC. He moved to Holland for a year, and shot a bunch of travel work. He built a huge body of work of scenic landscapes all across Europe, but focused less on portraits during this period of time. When he returned to the United States and settled in San Francisco, he began working with environmental portraiture; blending the landscapes he adored with his subjects. After staying awhile in San Francisco, Josh took off again for Boston, where he has now been for the past 6 years.
The fact that he has moved around so much and traveled plenty has had a huge influence on Josh’s work. When your environment is changing, you’re staying more present, especially for those with a visual brain who are constantly studying the world around them. It’s easy to get complacent and stuck in the back of your head doing the same thing every day, but when you have a camera, you can become more present in the moment, with the ability to seize it and capture it forever. Josh’s approach to his work is very much routed in this way, as it is all very reportage style, even if it’s set up or composited.
Most of his work now is in corporate advertising or editorial. He has fallen into a quite lucky groove, where he hasn’t been given too much rigid corporate work, but rather assignments on the highly stylized end. Either way, he’s always looking at deconstructing and reconstructing a scene, no matter the subject matter. Many of his portraits today are composited, just like the early work he was compositing in the darkroom in college. He always likes to include and window or a portal in his work, somewhere where he can drop in a beautiful sky or texture from his expansive library of imagery. This extra element helps his work stand apart from other corporate portraiture, giving it a tinge of a fine art painting that augments the reality of it all.
When it comes to his personal work and the work he creates for commission, Josh is adamant that the passion for both is the same. When looking through his book, the different between the two is negligible; indistinguishable to tell when is personal and what was work for hire. He can only do what he does, and the approach to personal projects is the same for commercial work. Everything ends up being personal work for him, as his heart and soul goes into everything he does.
He’s currently been working on and planning to work on a mix of both personal work and commissions. He has continually been working on a project with National Grid on hero’s of communities in the Tri-State Area. The reason why it is continuing on, is because he keeps finding more and more subjects to take part of the series. He will be traveling to Iceland in a few weeks to produce a body of work for himself that holds much mystery, as he’s never been to the country before. Having spent time in Norway and Sweden before, he is extremely inspired by the Scandinavian culture, and hopes to get all the more satisfaction out of visiting Iceland— and we can’t wait to see what he brings back.