'Better Perspectives': An Interview With Ben Shmulevitch

Last month we introduced you to Better Perspectives; a collaboration between travel firm Expedia and eight up-and-coming London photographers. We've interviewed a couple of those involved to find out more about their work and favourite London landmarks. First up is Ben Shmulevitch, an Edinburgh College of Art graduate who enjoys exploring London's diversity of character.

You can find out more about Better Perspectives here.


Buckingham Palace - Seeing the Sightseers

Buckingham Palace - Seeing the Sightseers

What and where did you study? I studied Graphic Design at Edinburgh College of Art. Throughout I often sought to combine photography with editorial design and typography. I feel learning about the wider context of how images can be used taught me to take a more considered approach to capturing photographs.

What do you enjoy most about London, and what does the capital mean to you? London is an incredibly diverse crossroad for people and culture, and to me that’s what makes it such an interesting place to be. It’s a big city but I think of it more as a cluster of urban microcosms sitting side-by-side. The atmosphere and characteristics of London boroughs can be so different that you could explore the city for years and still find surprises. In that sense I think it’s a city you learn to enjoy the more you explore it, as opposed to say, the overt drama of New York or the romanticism of Paris.

What have you learnt from being part of Better Perspectives? Have you enjoyed the project? What I enjoyed about the Better Perspectives project was the challenge — it’s not easy to find other ways to look at Buckingham Palace without exclusive access. I feel a photographer should always adopt a more observant view of what’s around them, but for this project I really had to look beyond the most obvious viewpoints.

Buckingham Palace - Seeing the Sightseers

Buckingham Palace - Seeing the Sightseers

Why did you choose to photograph Buckingham Palace as an iconic landmark? The building is grand though certainly not the most interesting example of London architecture. I wanted to photograph a site that I knew would bring a constant stream of visitors ticking off another site on their ‘bucket list’.

How have you approached your subject and captured it in your own way? I wanted to spend some time observing how visitors interacted with the landmark. I found it quite entertaining seeing the different behaviours of people stopping at famous landmarks. Taking ‘selfies’ is the most commonplace reaction of course, along with half-heartedly snapping a photo of the gates more as an act of obligation than intrigue.

What, in your opinion, does the future hold for young creatives in London? I think London is and to some extent always will be a European creative hub — the city is home to a huge amount of influential creative institutions and people that attract talent. I do however think there is a danger that the rising cost of living and aggressive urban development will push out young and non-commercial creatives. I hope the city’s emerging design and art communities will receive adequate support and not just the large, prestigious institutions.

 
Buckingham Palace - Seeing the Sightseers

Buckingham Palace - Seeing the Sightseers

 

Can you tell us about your work? What themes do you explore and what does a typical series look like for you? I like to shoot with a photojournalistic approach when I can, regardless of whether it’s travel, editorial or food photography. Some photographers like to interact with who or what they’re shooting to bring about an intriguing perspective but I tend to read the situation and try capture a scene unobtrusively by letting it develop on its own.

Do you use social media to share your work? What are your thoughts on doing so? I probably don’t use social media as much as I could to share what I do — I think the self-inflicted pressure to gain exposure can be too stressful! However I do use Instagram — it feels like the most immediate way to share images with a far-reaching audience.

Do you think Brexit and the future of the UK will affect your work? The lasting impact from Brexit is yet to be seen, but I find it hard to imagine that it won’t affect and influence artists and makers for years to come. We’ve already seen some interesting work come about and I think it’s important that we continue to see an introspective exploration of the topic from creative practitioners. In terms of what it means for the UK’s creative industry — I think signalling that the UK is more isolated from Europe and the world could leave us poorer culturally as well as economically.