If you’ve rued your inability to take eye-catching photos, gnashed your teeth at a dearth of Instagram followers, or just yearned to be discovered for your social media skills, Tommy Clarke should be your idol. The 30-year-old Londoner is currently one of Britain’s hottest young photographers. He’s shot a campaign for Vodafone and this week launched his very own clothing line – modelled by none other than David Gandy – for M&S.
He shares some of his travel photography secrets...
“The secret of a successful image, particularly on social media, is that it needs to be something people haven’t seen before,” says Clarke. “Not necessarily a new place – just a new way of looking at a place they’ve already seen.” Aspirational Instagrammers following well-trodden photographic paths, take heed. It’s something Doidge can agree on – since he stumbled across Clarke’s work by accident. “I was just flicking through Instagram, looking for inspiration, and Tommy’s pictures immediately caught my eye,” he says. “The images are so flat and abstract that you’re not really sure what they are at first, and that draws you in. His composition is clever and the colours are amazing.”
To stand out from the crowd on social media, Clarke recommends going easy on Instagram filters. “I don’t use them at all,” he says. “There’s so much natural beauty in the world that it’s a shame to start messing about with it. With Instagram posts, less is often more.”
So what are Clarke’s top tips for Instagram success?
Play the angles
“Experimenting with angles is the easiest way to make something familiar look different. Even the simplest things can work well – like flipping a beach image by 90 degrees so the coastline comes down the right hand side of the picture rather than the bottom.”
Look for colour
“Keep your eyes open for little pops of vibrant colour. An empty beach with one bright red towel in the corner, for example, is a fantastic shot.”
Use the rule of thirds
“Draw two equally spaced lines down the vertical axis and two across the horizontal axis, like a noughts and crosses board. Where those imaginary lines cross you’ll get four points. When you’re framing a picture, you should always try to put something of interest on one or more of those points. If you place things off centre, not bang in the middle of the picture, it massively helps the aesthetics and naturally draws the eye into the photo.”
Filter out the filters
“Don’t become over-reliant on filters. There are incredible colours everywhere – you just have to look harder for them rather than adding them on your phone later.”
Look for texture
“Texture can really make an image – and water is one of the easiest ways to achieve it. The ocean in particular is full of energy, shades and layers, and immediately improves any picture, particularly when contrasted with the texture of sand.”
Take bad photos
“Take as many bad shots as you can. Just shoot, shoot, shoot. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes, to see what you don’t like. If I’m up in a helicopter for an hour, I’ll take around 500 photos and only 25 will make the edit. The key thing is to give yourself multiple options. The beauty of digital is that if it isn’t brilliant, you can just delete it and it hasn’t cost you anything.”