As we launch our latest competition in partnership with Professional Photography magazine we interviewed the previous winner of the competition, Lily Bungay.
Have a read for some hints and tips to get you inspired to apply for this months theme “Youth”. Read more here: https://photovoice.org/photovoice-competition/
How did you get started in Photography?
After studying Marketing at University, I got a job working for Nikon UK in their marketing team. Whilst there, I looked after all of the equipment that we would send out to the photo magazines to review. At first, I had no real interest in photography, but I guess years of being surrounded by incredible photographers and stunning images did its work on me and one day I suddenly thought to myself – I have some of the industry’s best equipment at my fingertips, I need to make the most of this! I began taking home a different camera and lens each weekend and just playing about, getting to know the equipment and experimenting with different techniques. I would mostly just wander around London taking pictures of anything and everything that I saw.
A little while later I took a trip to India and for the first time, took a proper camera with me. Starting off in Mumbai, I travelled down the country to South India and would spend all day, every day photographing the people around me. It’s not difficult to take a good picture in India as the country is so visually stunning, but that trip really set something in motion for me. Once I’d returned, I asked one of Nikon’s ambassadors, Mark Seymour, if I could assist him on a couple of weddings to gain some on the job experience. Mark predominantly shoots big, beautiful Jewish weddings and I walked away feeling hungry for more.
Fast forward a few years and I am shooting a few weddings a year. I set up a street photography collective with friends and I am regularly shooting events and content for start-up brands for their social media.
How would you describe your work and your practice?
I guess I would describe my work as capturing the beauty and humour in everyday moments of life. I am hugely inspired by the photographer Martin Parr who chronicles the peculiarities of our society, such as his fascination with British coastline resorts. There’s something weird and wonderful about the banality of life and that’s what I look forward to shooting every time I go out with my camera. Eventually I’d like my work to act as record which someone could look through in 50-100 years time and think, oh so that’s how people looked and behaved in London back then.
Whether I’m shooting weddings, street stuff or live music, my goal is to remain unseen or as discreet as possible. Sometimes I might be photographing someone on the street and they catch me, then pose and smile right at the camera. Although I’ll take their picture again, I’ll never use that posed image. I’m looking for genuine, non-curated moments and for that reason I suppose my practice could be described as reportage.
Tell us a bit more about your winning image and the series that it is from
There’s this British tradition of Pearly Kings and Queens which goes back 150 years. The Kings and Queens represent their local area of London and they wear suits covered in shiny buttons. Each year they parade around London with Morris Dancers and all manner of street performers. I was out with friends taking pictures of the parade, finding it difficult to get in as close as I wanted, so I decided to take a wander and see what was going on in the crowd around me. As the crowd thinned, I spotted the scene of three perfectly random strangers chatting, brought together as a result of the festivities. I loved this moment; a young woman, a policeman and an old guy in a top-hat with a cane, because each character is a treat for the eyes and for me this sums up modern society in London.
The image comes from a series of images I shot in London in one year as part of a street photography collective that I belong to. We head out twice a month to shoot all over the city, capturing London life as it happens.
What do you think the future for your photography will be?
I’ve don’t possess any formal qualifications in photography and I’d like to build upon the reportage nature of my practice and explore further education in Photojournalism, possibly studying for a Masters here in London. The idea of telling meaningful stories through imagery is something which really interests me. Eventually however, I’d like to be running photography workshops as a form of therapy for children and adults with mental health issues.
Are there any other up and coming photographers that you think people should know about?
I could, and do, spend way too much time on Instagram pouring over other photographer’s images. But there are three up-and-coming photographers which I particularly admire the work of:
@laura_eksmith – For always amusing pictures of Londoners which are punctuated with bold flashes of colour. She somehow manages to capture the perfect moment or angle, such as a shot of a little girl at Winter Wonderland, perfectly covering her dads face with the hot pink hair of the giant troll she’s just won.
@paulcreativ – Paul is an outstanding filmmaker and his images are as equally atmospheric. He takes pictures of people and places with a distinct style that just makes you want to climb into the image. His shots of a typewriter on the streets in NYC are some of my favourite.
@blaowphotography – Alex takes pictures of people. All kinds of people. On stage and on the streets and his images are full of energy and have this grungy feel to them.
How did you hear about PhotoVoice and how do you think your work relates our vision and mission?
I’m a big traveler and really enjoy teaching photography and after a recent trip away, I started thinking more about how I could possibly combine the two in the future. I was researching people who teach photography around the world, those that work with NGO’s and disadvantaged communities, when I discovered a number of photographers who were doing just this, all of whom had trained with PhotoVoice. That’s when I began looking into the work of PhotoVoice and noticed the competition. What really excites me about the mission of PhotoVoice is that it is all about opening doors, enabling people around the world to communicate their own stories through photography. It’s this facilitatory nature of the medium; which opens up dialogues and can inspire positive change in people that I am hoping to explore further with my own practice.
Feeling inspired? Make sure to check out the new competition: https://photovoice.org/photovoice-competition/
Image Copyright Lily Bungay