Welcome to the blog Aaron....
Tell us a little more about yourself and how McCracken Photography came to be.
Aaron McCracken Photography started in April 2017 following the closure of Harrison Photography where I had worked for over 20 years. I originally came from a background in local newspapers in Banbridge and Lisburn. But when I joined Harrison's in 1995 I really began to hone my craft of press and PR photography. John Harrison (The owner of Harrison Photography) was a great mentor and friend. Through those years with the team at Harrison's we covered several Presidential visits to Northern Ireland and almost every member of the Royal family. It was only in recent years with Prince William and Harry coming to the province that I have been able to say that I have photographed every senior member of the Royal family at one time or another. My most recent investment in new camera equipment has meant that I can now shoot completely silently. This is particularly useful when trying to stay as discrete as possible during VIP visits. I hope that this will also be particularly useful for stage and production photography as well as during conferences and speeches.
Tell us a little about who you work with day to day at McCracken Photography....
It's not all canapés and glamour, the most of my work is with local businesses and charity organisations. From Translink to Mencap, the Grand Opera House to the Housing Executive and the MAC to the Ulster University. The goal with all these clients still remains the same as it did when I started, to create dynamic and interesting pictures which grab the attention of picture editors and social media consumers alike.
Who is the most famous person you have photographed/worked with?
Over the years I've had the great privilege to photograph people like President Clinton and even Her Majesty the Queen in some very private and exclusive gatherings. I must admit though, being a bit of a car nut, I particularly enjoyed meeting Sir Jackie Stewart and Eddie Irvine. I haven't quite managed to grab a frame of Lewis Hamilton, but I hope one day I can tick that one off the bucket list.
While on the subject of bucket lists there is one very famous Belfast personality I would like to photograph close up. The Harland and Wolff cranes have always eluded me, I have always just missed the opportunity to go up to the top of the cranes. So if anyone ever has the opportunity for a photo shoot on top of Samson or Goliath I would be very keen to have a chat!!
McCracken Photography supports the arts sector through in-kind means, what benefits are there to your business?
Working with the arts sector has been a real eye opener on so many occasions. As a photographer and in a semi artistic profession you would expect me to say that, but it is so easy to get stuck in a routine or pattern of thinking which just gets stale. But working with the Arts Sector provides an opportunity to tap into the energy of some very creative people and feed off their ideas to broaden my outlook and enhance my own work.
Albert Einstein, who I share my birthday with, is credited with saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." Working with the Arts Sector for me is the perfect antidote to "insanity" in the business world.
What is your most memorable moment from working within cultural sector?
Memorable moments for me in the arts sector are very often linked to the great photos I have been able to take while promoting their performances. From circus acrobats in the Waterfront hall, which was one of my first and still one of my favourite pictures, to the lead from a ballet production of Dracula with the dramatic red cloak on the background of the Waterfront ceiling, even getting to cover the panto launch with my childhood hero Basil Brush!. More recently while working with the cast from Hansel and Gretel in the MAC we arranged to bring them to a real sweet shop where I got some wonderful images of them 'in character' surrounded by colourful sweets. Perhaps the most surprising was when I was asked to cover a reception just after a production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'. It's probably not a play which I would have gone to see but I was invited to watch the performance before the reception began. I have to admit that I was blown away by the play and I really enjoyed it.
Photography is a creative industry and there are lots of famous photographs and photographers. Putting you on the spot - if you had to choose a photographer from any time whose work you admire, who would it be and why.
In terms of Photographers who's work I really admire, I would have to give credit to some of the great talent we have right here in Ireland. Both in Belfast and Dublin. In particular Cathal McNaughton who is from here but has gone on to now be the Reuters Photo editor for India where he recently won the Pulitzer prize for his and his team's exposure of the violence faced by Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar https://www.irishnews.com/lifestyle/2018/05/12/news/pulitzer-prizewinner-cathal-mcnaughton-recalls-mentoring-he-got-at-the-irish-news-1326641/.
It always amazes me just how a photographer can arrive at a story and manage to see and capture images that would completely bypass most of us. For me that is what sets apart the really great photographers. Especially now when smart phones have made photography so accessible. The best photographers can see a picture in the midst of a scene that everyone else would miss. Above all, the best images are the ones that you just can't help but stop and look at, they draw you in and transport you, just for a moment, to somewhere else.
McCracken Photography is an Arts & Business NI business member. See who else is a member at www.ArtsandBusinessNI.org.uk
Enjoy a selection of Aaron's photography in the media gallery below and check out http://www.mccracken.photography/ for further information you can find McCracken Photography at the following social media destinations:
Thank you Aaron, it's been a pleasure as always.
Arts & Business is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.