With over 102,000 followers on Instagram, Nige Levanterman chats with Focus LDN about photography, Instagram, the rewards of being at the top of your game and why The Spring Collection will be his first professional exhibition.
FL: What do you do?
Nige: Photography is not my full time job it is my hobby. I photograph landscapes and urban scenes, not portraits; I don’t find them interesting. I like the challenge of finding a unique angle in an urban environment, even of something that is frequently photographed, like Big Ben for instance.
At what age did you discover this interest in photography?
I have always had a camera and many years ago I use to develop my own 35mm black and whites, but then I drifted away from photography for many years. In 2013 I bought my first DSLR and I found Instagram and the two just took off from there.
What is it about Instagram’s platform that appeals to you?
It is a good mechanism for sharing your photographs to the world, and getting feedback.
And you have done better than most on the app, do you have any secrets?
I’ve had many a conversation with people who have been on Instagram for just as long as me, and they either have more or less followers, but nobody knows the equation. If we could pinpoint it, we would all have a lot more followers, but even for the likes of myself with over 100,000 I still can’t figure it out. Followers are quite fickle, they will unfollow you instantly if you put a photo up that they don’t like, or that isn’t themed to your gallery. So you can either let it take over your direction or not, and I don’t like it to do that; I have lost around 30,000 followers by not going with what they want.
Is there a direct correlation with each picture then?
People like colour, I like black and white, you can also do videos which I have done quite a few of; they are not as popular. Definitely colour. People love London and travel, not photos of your dog, or your friends, or portraits, or even a standard picture of Big Ben, it needs to be a fresh view.
You have won a number of awards and accolades for your photography, even being flown across the world by companies to take pictures. What would you say was your biggest or best?
I don’t go out looking for these free trips, being approached by large corporate organisations is quite an achievement. By far the best trip was with Visit Dubai, the Dubai tourist board, which flew me to Dubai for six days and just spoilt me senseless, they wanted me to share with the rest of the world what there is to do in Dubai rather than just the sky scrapers, so we did jeep rides through the desert, hot air ballooning for sunrise, flew in a sea plane, and it was all for free. All I had to do was take pictures, which I would have done anyway; everyone was a winner.
It’s still surprising to get awards and you know, it is nice to see others enjoy your work. That’s it.
The Spring Collection is the first exhibition you have deicide to exhibit your photographs in. Why have you not done it before?
Purely because I came along to Focus LDN’s Winter Exhibition on the chance of seeing Sarah Fosse’s work, and when I came along I saw paintings and photographs. I went around the room, looked at every item and had a chat with the artists. I could see that they were as passionate as I was about not only painting, but photography. I just thought galleries were for art not photography. I came away from it feeling like it was something worth exploring.
What camera do you use?
I started off with a lower range Canon, so after I got more serious I bought a Canon 5DSR which is top of the range, but I also have GoPro’s and things like that. Then I went out and bought another expensive Canon, because I do time lapses and I found that when I was doing a time lapse of the sunrise that was an hour, or an hour and a half long, then I couldn’t take pictures whilst that sun was rising, so I thought I need another camera to take pictures. I was missing shots; if you get up at five in the morning to take pictures the last thing you want to do is miss shots. So yes, I am full committed now to Canon.
What is it about Canon which is better than the competitors?
Well when I first got a camera it was between Cannn or Nikon, and I preferred the Canon interface. I didn’t know a thing then, but it has been with me ever since, and now I am going to be on the Canon stage at The Photography Show in Birmingham this March speaking for Canon, it has been amazing to get noticed by them and invited to speak.
Any goodies from them?
Not yet! But it was an honour to be asked, let’s just see how it goes.
Do you have any tips for any amateur photographers out there?
Find your own style, don’t just to imitate someone else’s. Someone will probably notice your style before you have even noticed it yourself, that is what happened with me.
What are your hopes for the future?
I quite like it as a hobby. I can’t see it going full time, but hey, never say never. I work in software at the moment, it is not photography related and I quite like that contrast.
So you can keep your passion a passion and not think about the money side of things?
Nige will be exhibiting his work this February 28th - 4th March in our Spring Collection at the Menier Gallery.