• D&AD Awards 2018
    Extended Deadline 28 Feb
  • Extended Deadline
  • 28 February
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In Partnership with Getty

Next Photographer Award 2015 Interview - John Gribben

John Gribben is a self taught photographer from Glasgow. Working as a high school art and design teacher before pursuing his photography passion, at 26 John was shortlisted for the Next Photographer Award in 2015.

We caught up with him in the wake of his nomination to hear the story behind his photo series, Glaikit, and find out if he had any top tips for fledgling photographers.

What are you up to now and what’s next for you?

At the moment? A mix of commissioned work, personal work and collaborations.

Right now I am working on the early stages of a new self-portrait project which is very exciting and I’m also collaborating with an illustrator on a music video. Moving image is a new venture for me so I’m really looking forward to seeing it all come together and pushing myself in a new medium.

Can you tell us the story behind each of your Next Photographer images?

The Images are a part of ‘Glaikit’, a self-portrait series which looks at Glaswegian slang language. It’s an ongoing series that I tend to dip in and out of, as revisiting it with a fresh mind allows me to take it in new directions.

The word ‘glaikit’ is slang for looking glazed over or detached - almost a bit spaced out emotionally. I wanted to try and create images that acted as a visual representation of this whilst taking the word out of context.

The resulting work has a digitally manipulated feel that makes it appear as if it's been edited in post. Really, it’s all camerawork, patience and some colour adjustments here and there. I shot with the flowers covering my face and actually stuck the sprinkles on with a layer of cream, keeping them in place for as long as it took to get the right image.  

How did you get into photography?

"I got into photography when I was volunteering in South Africa. I ended up taking a friend's old camera and shot a lot in and around the area I was living.

There was one particular moment when I took some still life images alongside a portrait of my neighbour. I knew that it was the shot I was looking for as soon as I captured it, and from there I was hooked. I loved being able to piece together a story and communicate a moment through a series of images."

Do you remember the first photo you took, and is there a particular image that stands out throughout your career?

"I think one of the first images that I took was when I was young and got a Polaroid I Zone camera for Christmas – I remember going crazy with the film and the stickers!

My Glaikit portraits for D&AD probably stand out most for now – they're the ones people recognise me for."

How did you find the Mentor side of the award?

"It was great to have people from the industry give you help and guidance. 

I had a meeting with Sarah Thomson at Fallon and through Sarah, I met with Daniel Moorey at Adam&EveDDB which was great. Both gave me really useful insights on my work and how to move forward.

I also met with an Art Producer and a Senior Art Director at Getty images – we kept in touch and are now about to start work on a new project together."

What kind of opportunities have awards opened up for you, if any?

"Being involved in the award was a great way to get my work recognised and exposed.

I was just starting to pursue photography when I was selected, so being shortlisted by D&AD gave me a real 'foot-in-the-door' and allowed me to get meetings with magazines and agencies."

And lastly, any advice for those thinking of entering?

"Enter the work you feel passionate about and that makes you stand out from other entries."

The D&AD Next Photographer Award unearths the best new photographic talent and promotes it back into the industry. The competition is open to new photographers with less than three years professional experience.

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