British photographer Ben Allan just loves wandering around with his camera, generally following his nose and just looking up and seeing what catches his eye. Always having been drawn to architecture, Ben photographs in a way that is graphical and abstract, being very much led by grids, thinking about lines and edges within compositions before anything else. Nearly always shooting in black and white, for Ben there is something about the removal of colour that seems to heighten the lines, grids and patterns in his photographs.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
I was born in Bristol, UK, but have been living in London for the past five years or so. A few of my friends were interested in photography growing up, so I played around with their cameras a bit. I properly got into it when my parents bought me an entry-level DSLR for my 18th birthday.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
I'm someone that needs new things to stay excited...the stretches of Covid lockdown where I've not been able to explore new places definitely stifled my motivation and creativity a bit.
Some of my favourite photographers are: Alan Schaller (B&W street photography and he has a good podcast), Jered and Ashley Gruber (cycling photography), Fred Mortagne (combines skating and architecture), Francois Prost (architecture and other things), Nathan Brookes (architecture), Jamie Windsor (brilliant YouTube videos). I see cool things every time I open Instagram.
What do you want to express through your photography? What are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
I love graphical elements - lines, patterns, and shapes. That's why I'm generally drawn to buildings. You can make a building seem so interesting with the right shot. I wouldn't say there's a bigger idea I'm expressing through my photography - it's simply what I think looks cool!
Where is your most favourite place to go photograph?
Anywhere with lots of tall buildings! Buildings aside, Barcelona sticks in my mind as a great place to photograph.
What happens when you go out with your camera? Do people respond positively to you, or do you sometimes get negative reactions? If yes, how do you handle it?
If people are in my photos, it's generally pretty incidental or they are far enough away, so I've never had any trouble. Once a skateboarder told me to stop because he had an 'official' photographer with him. It was just his mate, which made me laugh.
When you take pictures, do you usually have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just "come to you", or is it both?
I generally let things come to me. I love walking around and seeing what catches my eye. I tend to think an entire area might be cool to explore, more than having exact locations or specific shots in my head.
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? (What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?)
I use my iPhone 11 more and more every day - the image quality is crazy for the size. Otherwise I have a Canon 80D, so nothing super fancy. I tend to use prime lenses. I love my 24mm f2.8 as it's so light and forces you to move yourself to get the right shot, not just zoom in.
What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
I need to set up a proper print shop online (please message me currently on Instagram if you after one of my prints). Seeing your work in real life is great. A gallery show is a dream of mine.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
Nothing special to mention. Just looking forward to lockdown ending and seeing some new places and finding some inspiration there.
“When I am not out photographing, I like to…
...cycle and waft."