An Interview with British Grime Photographer Vicky Grout | Grailify
An Interview with British Grime Photographer Vicky Grout

An Interview with British Grime Photographer Vicky Grout

Skepta. Stormzy. Novelist. The list goes on and on. Without the lens of Vicky Grout, you probably wouldn't see the second wave of British grime the way you do. At just 20 years old, the London-based photographer has made a name for herself by befriending some of the genre's most celebrated artists and capturing their raw energy with a distinctive visual vocabulary. Vicky has since ventured into the realms of street and fashion photography.

Hi Vicky, thanks for taking the time. What have you been up to lately? Please tell us about your current projects.
I've been working on a few personal projects lately, dealing with topics close to my heart, which I will be publishing soon. I am also responsible for the photography of PUSH magazine.
Khi in Copenhagen, 2017

Elf Kid in South East London for Complex UK, 2016

How did you get into photography in the first place? Is there a story about "my first camera"?
I've always liked photos and pictures, but I think I started taking pictures when I was 13/14 years old, when I found my family's old holiday camera - an Olympus Stylus Epic - and took it to concerts to take snapshots of friends.

In terms of photography, are there people who inspire you or who you look up to?
I have so many! But some of my favourite photographers are:
Ashley Verse - Ashley has been involved in the grime scene since day one and is one of the few who authentically document the movement.

Ronan McKenzie - Ronan photographs people in such a wonderful way that you can really feel a connection between her and her subjects.

Tyler Mitchell - Tyler's analogue work has always inspired me; there is something very artistic about his work that makes it so beautiful to look at.

Bossman Birdie in North London, 2017
Did you only do photography yourself or did you also study it? When did you realise that this was the path you wanted to take as a career?
All DIY! There was no option to study photography at either my school or college, so I taught myself through trial and error, looking at other people's work to see what I liked and didn't like. I actually wanted to study graphic design, but the summer before I graduated I got commissions for rave photos I went to and portraits of friends, so I never decided to do it.

But it was definitely worth it, wasn't it? In the last few years you've turned your hobby into a profession. Does it sometimes bother you that the professional side takes the fun out of photography itself?
Every now and then there will be a job that doesn't match 100% with your passion, but that's something that happens in every creative career, especially when you're starting out.
Karl in East London, 2016

Reeko Squeeze for Patta x ALCH, 2017

Tatitana in East London, 2017

Cookie in London, 2016

You still shoot a lot with analogue equipment. Why did you decide to go this way and what advantages do you see for your workflow and aesthetic?
Yes, when I first started shooting I shot exclusively on film and it wasn't until I started working full-time that I started shooting digitally because it was more cost effective. However, over time I realised that I far prefer the look and feel of film, and no matter how much I played around with my digital images in post-processing to make them look analogue, it just wasn't the same. For me, film has a certain character that you can't easily - if ever - replicate. Also, I love the excitement of not really knowing how the images will turn out and waiting for the scans to come back.

What's your favourite equipment you're using at the moment?
Lately I've been shooting a lot with a Pentax 67, which is quite a big piece of equipment (especially because I'm very short), but it makes beautiful portraits.
Yumi for TM Sportswear, 2017

Smartphones and ever-advancing technology have changed the way people approach and use photography. Does this also change the way you use this medium?
If I'm honest, I don't tend to take too many photos with my phone! I used to take a lot of photos, but now I usually have a camera in my hand - even if it's just a simple camera - and forget about my phone. It's something I definitely want to do more often, because I think it's nice for others to sometimes get a behind-the-scenes look at some of my shoots, because it shows a different side that you might not otherwise see - unless you were there.

"Being there" is certainly something that was particularly important in the early stages of your career as well. As someone closely associated with the grime movement, how has exposure to this culture influenced your work?
I've always loved music, and by photographing it I can get even closer to it. One thing I've learned because I'm so deeply rooted in the grime movement is how artists can turn a struggle into something positive and inspiring. This has also motivated me to address social issues with my work and to use the voice I have to draw attention to problems in our society.
Brandon in Peckham, 2017

Goldlink in London, 2017

It's always nice to see how creativity is used for something like this! Are there any projects you would still like to realise? Let's say a dream job as a photographer - what would that look like?
I would definitely love to have the opportunity to travel around the world doing documentary and street photography in amazing places. That and photograph Chance the Rapper!

Your hometown of London is internationally known for its thriving music, fashion and creative scene. What influence does the city have on your personal style and taste?
My biggest passion is music first and foremost. Music has always been a big part of my life, and being able to photograph and document it is definitely what drives me. The amount of incredible artists that have come out of not only the UK but London in recent years is insane.

What do you love most about London, and what do you hate most about the city?
What I love most about London is the creativity and the panache. What I hate most are the crowds and the rudeness.
Legz & Bear in Tottenham, 2017

But now for a lighter topic: Which sneakers are currently among your favourites?
They are my triple black Nike Air Max 97s, my baby blue adidas Campus, my grey Nike Uptempos, my Basement x Nike Dunks and my VaporMax.
Abra Cadabra in Tottenham, 2017
Kay in Soho, 2017

Great selection! What are your all-time favourite sneakers?
They change all the time, but right now it's a tie between the Silver Bullet 97s and the Basement Dunks.

Your last words?
Don't be an asshole!

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