Richard Gray is a professional photographer from West London, UK whose mobile photography work has been featured in exhibitions such as the Head On festival and Mobile Masters and published in The Sunday Times (as part of the prize for winning the Terry O’Neill award). Richards big-camera photography (mainly music) has been published by Vogue, NME, The Observer and many others.
Richards Instagram feed is a varied mix of subjects and styles which provide an excellent resource of inspiration. With such a wealth of experience under his belt it is no wonder Richard has been known to put on mobile photography workshops, share iPhone Photography Tips and deliver talks at events such as the 2014 Eyeem Festival and Awards in Berlin.
Tell us about your introduction to iPhone photography
Like many people, my eyes to the possibilities in mobile photography were opened by three things: discovering various editing apps; the sharing platforms; its ubiquity. It really re-awakened my passion for photography because it meant I could do photography more often and could edit photos more easily and more often.
Describe your style and approach to your photography and the apps you use
My style is all over the place. Every blog about being successful in photography says “have a distinctive style”. I guess I’ll never be that successful. Apps-wise my favourites are VSCO, Snapseed, Slow Shutter, Handy Photo, Hipstamatic, Decim8.
My approach with mobile photography is quite different to my big camera work, which usually has very specific commercial objectives. Again, since I’m free to do anything with mobile, I tend to take all sorts of photos and use a variety of styles, apps and approaches.
What inspires you to take photos?
I don’t really know. Many things I guess. A lot of them are probably sub-conscious. If photography could be put into words, it wouldn’t be photography. But what I do know is when I get a good photo, I get a little glow of satisfaction and sometimes I laugh. That’s what I’m looking for a satisfaction glow and a laugh.
You professionally run a some Instagram feeds, what’s the story behind them?
The first is for a music venue, Islington Assembly Hall @islington_ah. I’m the house photographer there so it made sense for me to manage the Instagram. I can take the photos on my DSLR and post them on Instagram (via an Eyefi SD card) straightaway so people at an event can see photos immediately. I love doing it because it gives my music photos a real purpose in life. The other account is for the Terry O’Neill mobile award, which I won last year. The basic idea is to encourage more people to enter the competition this year – I’m sure I only won last year because there were so few entries! Deadline is November 30!
Do you have any takeaways or observations from observing the photos people post onto Instagram?
People get annoyed if you tell them how they could improve their photos on Instagram. It’s a shame really because it means there’s very little critical dialogue there. The prevalence of Followocracy (a term I invented and blogged about, meaning a system where your influence and earning-capability increases with your follower numbers) on Instagram means there is very little sensible discussion about photography. So, I don’t really want to criticise anyone’s photos thanks!
As mobile photography evolves have you observed any changes in the way this facet of photography is influencing and developing into the world of DSLR photography?
I’m definitely seeing a lot more heavy editing in DSLR photography, which probably comes from the influence of mobile. Otherwise, I think mobile has carved out a new place for itself within photography, without taking anything from DSLR. A lot of street and highly creative image creation is completely new to photography thanks to mobile.
You are a founding member of the Click London mobile photography group, tell us a bit about the group.
We filled a gap in the community by providing a transparent completely not-for-profit photo group. I also think we put on quirkier photography meetups than others because we’re not commercial – we can organise anything we want because we’re not trying to make a profit. It also means we are a bit disorganised and have gone through quite a lot of changes recently.
Do you have any future plans for Click London?
We’re organising a 1-year birthday exhibition very soon. Follow @click_london on Twitter or sign up to the Meetup page for more details. Otherwise the aim is to organise meetups that allow members to get interesting pictures.
In the past you have run some iPhone photography workshops. What are the key components beginners to mobile photography need to learn in order to take decent photos with their phones?
How much time have you got? If I had to narrow it down to two things I would say subject and composition. These two things apply to all photography of course. For mobile photography specifically, I would say a comprehensive knowledge of editing apps will help you produce good work.
Tell us about three of your favourite photos and the stories behind them
This was one of most enjoyable days shooting I’ve ever had. It was for a commission by Sport England and not only were the kids a joy to shoot but there was such beautiful light that day.
Excitement: The Person Opposite.
This was part of the series that won the Terry O’Neill award. I couldn’t believe my luck when these two people sat opposite me on the tube. There’s some incredible street photography produced by mobile photographers that just wouldn’t have been possible on any other device.
One of those photos you’re not sure why you like it. I think it’s because I got a good composition, good light, some nice lines.