The Photography of Tobi Shinobi | Grailify
The Photography of Tobi Shinobi

The Photography of Tobi Shinobi

It's a world full of unexpected symmetries in the rough urban landscape and also a world full of sneakers. And of course Tobi has graced us with many more shots than we could fit on the pages of our print edition. As a special bonus, here are a few extra images from the London-based photographer - including a few sneaker shots, of course - and a few insights into his creative process. And while you're at it, you should also follow him on Instagram @tobishinobi.

Hi Tobi, what made you want to explore the world with your camera?
One day a friend showed me Instagram and another friend gave me a discount at Sony. I left the office, got something to eat and took about 100 photos during my lunch break. Instagram gave me a platform to share my work, get inspired and get instant feedback.

You have a unique visual language and your photos are incredibly composed. Was this style always there or did it take time to develop?
The person I am and the person I have become in recent years shapes my photography in that I like clear perspectives, balance, sameness and diversity, which translates into symmetry and geometry in my work. I like clarity and image quality, so I do my utmost to ensure that my techniques reinforce this in my shots. The style comes from within me, so it's always been there, although I've refined it over time, as I want to evolve creatively as an artist.

For all the photography nerds out there: What is your favourite camera that you use every day and why did you choose it? And what lenses do you use and why?
For me, it's all about maximising my chances of success. That's why I need to take a whole range of equipment with me to be prepared for as many eventualities as possible. To achieve this, I work with mirrorless cameras, which are lighter and smaller and allow me to take more lenses with me. I currently use the Sony a7r2: for the size and weight, there is nothing more flexible for my needs. Given my style, I love a great wide angle, but I have a 10-18mm f4, 14-24mm f2.8, 16-35mm f4, 21mm f1.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 25mm f2, 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4.

You are also a global ambassador for Sony. How did that come about and what do you like about the Sony camera ecosystem?
After getting a discount from a friend, I got the Sony Nex 5n. It was a small but powerful camera that gave me great results. In fact, it was so small that I could literally take it anywhere. I would estimate that I left it at home for about 10 days in the first 18 months I had it. Being able to shoot all the time was great for learning. When Sony announced the new range of full-frame mirrorless cameras, I knew I would stick with them because of the small form factor.

What makes a good photo for you? What qualities do you look for as a viewer?
Personally, I like a good composition and something that captivates you almost immediately. The photo doesn't have to be technically perfect to be great, but it helps if the photographer takes the time to establish focus and avoid distracting features that could detract from the message they are trying to convey. Whether it's a portrait, a street, architecture or an event, it doesn't matter - a good photo just captivates you.

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Keep photographing! Photograph what you love and love what you photograph. Spend more money on travel than on equipment.

Thanks for the interview, Tobi, and have a good trip.

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