The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 6, 2013

Backyard is young photographer's hunting ground

By John Cross

---- — When most people peer through their cameras, they are inclined to see the big picture.

But when Andrew Murray looks through his, likely as not, he’s looking for the small details.

In keeping with a photographer’s credo that creating an interesting image is all about sorting through the visual chaff to find the visual wheat, the 17-year-old, who will be a senior at Loyola High School this fall, has developed a keen eye for creating striking photographs of the things most people wouldn’t give a second glance.

“For me, photography is all about being able to show every day things in ways that other people might not notice,” he said.

His favorite subjects are the usual staples of nature photographers — birds, flowers, landscapes, bugs.


“A lot of people say they don’t like bugs,” he said. “But then they’ll see one of my photographs of one and say ‘hey, that’s pretty interesting.'”

Murray said his interest in photography was piqued as an eighth-grader. “I started out with a video camera,” he said.

He would pull still images from the video clips and eventually became fascinated with the power of the still image, how the nuances of light, form and composition came together to create a mood or message.

He swapped the video camera for an inexpensive point-and-shoot, eventually saving enough to spring for the sophisticated digital SLR he now uses.

The image-maker is mostly self-taught.

“I’ve read a lot of books about photography, found out a lot of information about it on the Internet,” he said.

Armed with a complement of three lenses, his favorite photo hunting ground is his own backyard.

“You really don’t have to travel very far to make good photographs,” he said. “I’ve probably taken 90 percent of my photographs in our backyard.”

And as is the case with so many things, patience is a virtue when trying to capture the decisive moment when the elements of a photograph come together.

“I wanted to photograph a monarch butterfly coming out of its chrysalis ... I had to wait for five hours before it finally happened,” he said.

He estimates he has taken at least 35,000 photographs since he became serious about the medium.

Photography as a career? Realistically, he understands that freelance nature photographer can be a tough way to make a living.

At 17, he figures it’s a bit too early to make that kind of decision.

And as interested as he is in photography, he anticipates his other creative passion — music — will be the leading force when he begins to investigate college possibilities.

Nevertheless, he has received a measure of recognition for his photographs.

He has managed to sell a few.

And his work has been featured on Twin Cities Public Television’s Capture Minnesota project, a monthly photo gallery at TPT’s website featuring the work of state photographers (

Two of his photographs have been selected for Editor’s Choice Awards while several others received honorable mention.

So far, his photos haven’t made the cut to be included in “Capture Minnesota,” compilations of 200 photographs selected through viewers’ votes published in book form.

But the possibility of being included in the glossy, high-quality publication gives him something to shoot for each time he presses the shutter button.

More of Murray's work can be seen at


John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by email at