- Words Notion Staff
Street culture snapper Vicky Grout shares all about her profound love of music, before judging this year's Abbey Road Studios' Music Photography Awards.
You might have caught photographer Vicky Grout deep in the rave, with one hand clasped to a camera and gun fingers flying in the other. The Polish-British creative became synonymous with grime during its revival period when Skepta was shutting down Shoreditch Car Park and Drake was inking his left shoulder with a Boy Better Know tattoo. It was one of those ‘you really had to be there’ eras and Vicky was, capturing the scene’s stars in their most candid forms.
Ever since, the multifaceted shooter has stamped her unique style of analogue portraiture on British culture. From Little Simz to Nines and Mahalia to Kano, this decade’s foundational music voices have all been snapped by Vicky, whose photos live in the present and still evoke a sense of wistful nostalgia. Few photographers epitomise the intersection between music and photography more than her, which is why she’s one of this year’s judges for Abbey Road Studios’ Music Photography Awards.
Back for a second year, the competition is the first of its kind. Recognising the art of music photography, the initiative is free to enter and holds a long-term vision of supporting the creative scene. Of course, part of Abbey Roads’ allure is down to the famous photo taken by Iain MacMillan of The Beatles, for their album which shares the studio’s name. Thousands of tourists come each year to recreate that picture, immortalising the moment in pop music history.
As she prepares to judge this year’s competition, Vicky Grout shares all about her love of music, starstruck moments and why authenticity is the key to success. Tap in below.
Your passion for photography started at around 13 years old, when you began going to gigs. Were there any memorable performances that you captured?
One of the earliest ever shows I brought my camera to was Azealia Banks at O2 Shepherd’s Bush in 2012. I remember sneaking my point-and-shoot in and taking some snaps from the front row, I wasn’t even in the pit! It’s safe to say that the pictures didn’t come out very well.
And when you started raving, what was it about the energy of dance music culture that resonated with you?
It’s almost indescribable, but the dopamine hit I get from hearing a crazy tune in the rave is unmatched. There’s also a real sense of community within dance music culture, and especially the UK underground rave scene, that makes it feel like a family.
What music are you bumping on your playlist currently? Anything that you could recommend our readers?
Currently, I’ve got “I Remember” by DRS, Tyler Daley & Calibre, “Maddest Hoes” by Nippa, and “Big Bewts” by Duckwrth on loop.
In terms of photography, with so many years in the game, how do you try to keep your aesthetic fresh and interesting both for yourself and your audience?
I always like to try new things, whether I take inspiration from somewhere or decide to switch it up entirely. Whether it be shooting in a studio or on location, using different lighting techniques, or even different types of film and analogue cameras, this can all have a different effect on the image.
Where are some areas you find inspiration? And are they ever unexpected?
I take inspiration from many places, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously. Other photographers always inspire me and encourage me to keep things fresh. I am also heavily influenced by the artists I love and fashion.
This year, you’ll be on the official judging panel for Abbey Road Studios’ Music Photography Awards. What will you be looking out for when judging the categories?
I’ll be looking out for authenticity, originality, and the ability to convey someone’s true character.
Why do you think it’s important that the music industry recognises photography’s contribution towards it?
Whether we realise it or not, photography has played a huge part in the music industry, whether it’s to help create an artist’s image or to give insight into their life that we may not usually get access to.
Have you ever had any starstruck moments in your time as a photographer? Are there any artists you’ve been nervous to shoot?
I’ve definitely had some starstruck moments throughout my career: Bryson Tiller, Thundercat and Doja Cat, all of whom were amazing to work with.
What’s an Instagram photography account that you’re currently obsessed with?
I am currently obsessed with @philipdanielducasse’s work. He is able to photograph musicians and people in a way that looks like literal art.