Art Producers Speak: Greg Funnell

- - Art Producers Speak

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Greg Funnell, who I think has great skill in keeping things looking fresh and enticing, be it through his commercial or journalistic work.

This was shot as part of a travel commission I did for a UK airline – it involved shooting a story on local surf spots in Morocco.

This was shot as part of a travel commission I did for a UK airline – it involved shooting a story on local surf spots in Morocco.

Havana, Cuba. This was from a personal story I did in Cuba a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of the revolution.

Havana, Cuba. This was from a personal story I did in Cuba a few years ago on the 50th anniversary of the revolution.

This was an outtake from an assignment I had following round the US punk band Cerebral Ballzy as they terrorized central London with their skateboards.

This was an outtake from an assignment I had following round the US punk band Cerebral Ballzy as they terrorized central London with their skateboards.

Shot again for an airline magazine – this time in Turkey, it was a fantastic assignment with enough time to really get stuck in and create a great set of images for the client.

Shot again for an airline magazine – this time in Turkey, it was a fantastic assignment with enough time to really get stuck in and create a great set of images for the client.

This was an editorial assignment documenting a surfer who was taking part in a cold water surfing competition in Thurso, Scotland.

This was an editorial assignment documenting a surfer who was taking part in a cold water surfing competition in Thurso, Scotland.

This was shot for the Red Bulletin, the magazine published by Red Bull. I photographed the BMX rider Kris Kyle up in Glasgow. This was an instant where I shot something for myself (the Polaroid shots) alongside what the client wanted, and ended up loving it and running it themselves.

This was shot for the Red Bulletin, the magazine published by Red Bull. I photographed the BMX rider Kris Kyle up in Glasgow. This was an instant where I shot something for myself (the Polaroid shots) alongside what the client wanted, and ended up loving it and running it themselves.

This a portrait of the rapper Nas. One of those situations where you’ve got 2 minutes to get the shot and subject who doesn’t want to play ball. I shot it in available light back stage – amazingly it was good enough quality to run on the cover of the magazine.

This a portrait of the rapper Nas. One of those situations where you’ve got 2 minutes to get the shot and subject who doesn’t want to play ball. I shot it in available light back stage – amazingly it was good enough quality to run on the cover of the magazine.

From the project “Las Vegas: The underbelly of the American Dream” that I shot as a collaboration with the photographer Adam Patterson. This couple Ned and D, lived in the storm drains underneath the city itself.

From the project “Las Vegas: The underbelly of the American Dream” that I shot as a collaboration with the photographer Adam Patterson. This couple Ned and D, lived in the storm drains underneath the city itself.

This was photo accompanying a short film I shot and produced for an NGO in Malawi last year.

This was photo accompanying a short film I shot and produced for an NGO in Malawi last year.

Street scene, Rajasthan, India. This image is a one from my widelux project that I’m hoping to publish in the near future.

Street scene, Rajasthan, India. This image is a one from my widelux project that I’m hoping to publish in the near future.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been going now for about 8 years

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m self taught. At university I studied History and War Studies (Kings College London). But I think I knew from day one that when I finished I was going to try and make it in photography I just had no idea how. For a couple of years previous to going to university I’d been an avid user of my schools forgotten darkroom. My interest in drawing, painting and all things visual had led me naturally into photography when I was about 16. From the moment I saw my first image appear in the developer I think I was hooked.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
When I was in my teens I worked part-time in the local library. I came across Don McCullin’s work from Vietnam and it opened a whole new world to me. It matched two of my passions, history and photography, and I was blown away by how much the still image could effect and fascinate me. I started collecting photography books and devoured as much as I could. At this time my main influencers were photojournalists, people like Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, Larry Towell etc. And even though my visual references have opened up I still think you can see the photojournalist influence in my work – the need to be close to the subject, to try and get the viewer really immersed in the subject. This has worked really well for my commercial work in the travel and lifestyle industries because I think it brings an intimacy and intensity to my images.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I’m a keen user of Instagram (@gregfunnell), I keep a blog (www.focus52.blogspot.com) and I use tumblr (www.gregfunnell.tumblr.com). These all help to encourage me to be continually shooting and generating content on a daily basis. But I’m constantly planning or thinking about longer terms projects or ideas. I’ve just secured my first studio and I’m quite excited about testing again more regularly and also just having a space to invite people into. I never grow tired of shooting portraits.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It’s always a delicate balance on jobs. I find the creatives I’ve worked with for the longest generally trust me to do my thing and get the job done – I think I’m seen as a safe pair of hands and one that that client will easily be able to get along with. I feel sorry for the creatives when they get stuck in the middle with difficult clients. From my end I try and keep the client as sweet and (if it’s possible) shoot both what they want and my spin on it so that they have the choice. It’s always about trying to find the middle ground but without compromising too much.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I tend to shoot editorial commissions mostly – there are a few magazines that I just love working for as they really allow me a lot of creative freedom. I’m also aiming to do more self-publishing this year – I’m just waiting to find the right designer to collaborate with.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
You have to shoot for yourself – don’t try and be what others want you to be. There’s obviously something to be said for being savvy about what’s popular, but ultimately you need to be producing work that you believe in and that shows your vision.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try put aside time each year to go off and shoot my own thing. I think you have to be making time to you shoot solely for yourself, you have to believe in the work first in order for others to also believe in it. I’m currently shooting some personal work with a camera called a Widelux, which is swing lens film camera, I’m doing it purely for my own creative need but I hope to continue shooting this as long term project, and it’s slowly starting to generate interest which is nice.

All that being said I did work on a collaboration with another photographer a couple of years ago on a story in Las Vegas on the subject of the American Dream. That was really exciting, and it helped that he was a good mate of mine. We have a similar vision but we each bought something to the table. Some people didn’t get it – and kept asking ‘who took this picture’ – they couldn’t understand when we responded that we weren’t sure or couldn’t remember. Our vision was in such unison that the work held together really well – and I think that’s rare. I’d love to give that another go and shoot another series somewhere in the US.

How often are you shooting new work?
I’m generally shooting a couple of times a week, mainly on assignments. My aim this year though is to force myself to step away from my desk more often and be shooting more side projects.

Greg studied History and War Studies at Kings College London before moving into photography. He’s since spent the last 8 years working for titles that include The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, Financial Times Magazine and the Washington Post. Shooting everything from commissioned celebrity portraits, to travel assignments and in-depth documentary features. He also works with NGOs on development projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America for the likes of Save the Children, ActionAid and WWF. Alongside this he also works in the commercial and advertising sector producing content for clients on international campaigns, especially in the travel, lifestyle and adventure industries.

Although primarily known for his photography he also increasingly gets asked to work with moving imagery, having directed and produced work for NGOs, corporate and commercial clients.

When he’s not producing content he guest lectures at Universities across the UK.

You can find him on twitter and instagram @gregfunnell

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

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