In the twentieth edition of our special features celebrating our favourite south coast based Instagram users, we catch up with Andrew Malbon (@fivearchitects).
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Originally from the North-West of England I arrived in Portsmouth to study architecture at the Polytechnic in the late 1980’s & have lived in & worked around Portsmouth ever since. I am currently working with a group of hugely talented & committed people in Portsmouth City Council’s architect’s team, as well as acting as an occasional visiting tutor at the University School of Architecture.
Can you tell me more about your photographic experience; is this something that you’ve studied or maybe a hobby that you’ve developed?
No formal training in photography, it’s always been a hobby and I have been interested in image making since receiving my first camera as a teenager. My architectural education introduced me to the formal ideas of composition, line, texture, detail & contrast.
Do you have a favoured camera or device that you use for your Instagram photography?
Having taken the leap into digital seriously about 6 years ago I’ve been using a couple of cameras, a Leica rangefinder & I’ve recently acquired a Fuji XT1 which I’m getting to grips with, slowly.
You regularly participate in Free Art Friday. Can you tell me about how you got involved with that?
I started the @fivearchitects project a couple of years ago inspired by My Dog Sighs & encouraged by my friends in our studio to give a more defined purpose to my photography & it’s evolved into a regular (but infrequent) series of Free Art Friday drops & the odd exhibition, usually hosted by my friends in The Tea Tray.
Do you ever receive much feedback from those who have found your photos?
Probably the best reaction I’ve had from a free art drop was to the ‘bait diggers‘ photograph. This is an image of something that I’d never seen before, very low tide & a small group of guys (let’s say a father, an uncle & a young lad), were digging for some sort of worms, I had the 21mm lens on the camera so had to get really close to them to record the image & had a chat whilst I was there.
It made for a nice atmospheric photograph so was duly printed & dropped in the Teatray; the lady who picked it up (Anna) was so pleased as she had cherished childhood memories of doing exactly that with her father she had abandoned her friend in another café & run to find the print -she wasn’t letting go of it either!
I’ve recently acquired a Fuji XT1 which I’m getting to grips with, slowly.
My architectural education introduced me to the formal ideas of composition, line, texture, detail & contrast.
Exploring the theme of local, the south coast has a wide variety of climatic conditions, buildings and landscapes. Are there any places or environments that are personal to you or that you love to photograph?
I love the city & am fascinated by the island & exploring how people engage with the coast in different ways; the Camber with the working fishing fleet; the Cathedral & of course the glorious brutalist structures around the city centre. I’m a regular visitor to the area around the Hayling Island ferry, (most Saturday mornings in between various dance lessons). I find the changing tides, the slowly decaying structures & the glorious light irresistible.
Would you say that you take photos more for yourself or for others?
Generally I take photographs for myself. I started to record the City more formally with a vague idea about a producing a portfolio of images as a response to a challenge from a friend who was living abroad & wanted a record of this unique place (she has since moved three times & still hasn’t got her book yet – but she’s patient).
Portsmouth is lucky to have a huge number of very talented photographers using all sorts of different media, techniques & equipment.
Are there any other photographers who either influence you or that you would encourage our readers to also check out?
Portsmouth is lucky to have a huge number of very talented photographers using all sorts of different media, techniques & equipment. Anyone who has featured in the Strong Island calendar is well worth checking out. I particularly enjoy the work of the group of people below & have been lucky enough to become good friends with a few of them:
David Tuckwell (@davetbythesea), his ability to produce sublime sophisticated images of the coast is inspirational. Christine Matchett (@christinematchett) has an exceptional eye for photographing the natural world. Charlotte (@charlotte4b) has a wonderful eye for detail and composition. Howard Hurd (@Howardhurd) has a great eye for a photo and I love his use of all sorts of vintage photography equipment. I love Johnny Black’s (@johnnyblackuk) feel for the city and Grzegorz Kopacz (@g3rzegorz) is just a magician with a smartphone.
From the wider Instagram world, Martin Parr (@martinparrstudio) has an extraordinary eye for recording the everyday. Sarah Lee (@Sarahmlee47) is a Leica ambassador; her work is absorbing & immediate. Finally from our vibrant artist community; Sadie Tierney (@sadie_tierney), My Dog Sighs (@MyDogSighs) & Fark (@farkfk) are wonderful people, generous with help & encouragement as well as being superb inspirational artists.