Five Questions with Photographer Andrew Buchanan

Buchanan Photograph of Kitchen

Andrew Buchanan's work.

This week we would like you to meet one of our Individual Creator Members, Photographer Andrew Buchanan

1. What was the inspiration behind becoming a photographer? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
I’m an architectural, interior, aerial, and landscape design photographer and I photograph designed and built spaces – architecture, interiors, and outdoor spaces like parks, plazas, campuses, infrastructure, etc. I’ve always been fascinated with the building process and as a history major in college, I fell in love with tracing the progress of human history through our buildings. Also, my grandfather was an engineer and I briefly considered a career in architecture before I nearly failed calculus in college! I love the challenge of compressing the three dimensions of built structures in to the two dimensions of images, in a way that’s visually elegant and also communicates the hard work and design intent of the designer.

2. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
That anyone with a digital camera and some HDR software can do it. Admittedly, good-quality digital cameras and computers have removed some of the technical barriers to entry in the past 5-10 years. Finicky transparency film, calculating multiple exposures with different sets of lights on or off, worrying about exposure reciprocity failure, paying attention with a critical eye to every single detail lest a stray cord or outlet cover ruin the whole shot with no easy retouching available – those are all things of the past. But photography is so much more than just the technical, and I think that sometimes people forget that. 

3. Have you experienced copyright infringement and if so how has it affected you personally and financially?
Absolutely, dozens if not hundreds of times per month. Using a reverse image search I can find my images all over the place. I pursue all the ones I can because not only do I deserve to be paid for the uses of my images, but my clients who do properly license and pay for great, original photography deserve to not have others get away with stealing the same thing. Sometimes the sheer number of instances feels completely overwhelming and impossible to stop – like bailing the ocean with a bucket – but I keep pursuing them because it feels wrong to let stealing go unpunished.

4. What is your best piece of advice that you would give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?
Spend some time to read and understand what it is, what powers it gives us, what’s required of us to effectively enforce it (like registration), but also what it’s not. The copyright system is dated and clunky and not set up very well for the benefit of small, individual creators. It’s unnecessarily cumbersome to register our images and enforce our rights. Still, the law gives us what really is our only leverage against much larger corporations and entities. Don’t be intimidated by the law or the process, just educate yourself and then take advantage of the power of copyright when necessary.

5. If there was one aspect of the copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?
Easy again – remove the registration requirement, or at least greatly simplify it by eliminating the distinction b/w published and un-published, groups, co-authors, etc., etc. It’s simply mind-boggling. It’s like a Rube Goldberg machine that’s been added on to again and again by blind engineers using instructions in 14 languages. There simply has to be a better way than requiring the filling out of a form and the deposit of a copy of EVERY SINGLE IMAGE made by EVERY SINGLE PHOTOGRAPHER in order to enjoy the fullest protection of copyright law.

Andrew Buchanan is an architectural, interior, aerial, and land design photographer in Seattle, Photographing the Spaces Where We Live, Work, and Play.® Andrew works with architects, landscape architects, engineering firms, large construction companies, hotels, and developers who need compelling, graphic photos of their best finished projects. Andrew is currently celebrating his 20th year in business. 

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Creator Spotlight series! Please email us at And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!

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