Having shot everyone from LeBron James for
BritishÂ GQÂ to the men of the Harlequins Rugby
team, it’s safe to say that award-winning photographer Sebastian
Palmer is one of the top sports snappers in the game. Now, he’s out
in Brazil working on an iPhone-only project to document the FIFA
World Cup on Instagram – not to mention interviewing locals
in each host city in order to cover the Cup from every possible
angle. Here, he tells us the Instagram photographers to follow, the
only photo-editing app you’ll ever need and what it’s really like
in Brazil at the momentâ¦Â
GQ: How has using your iPhone
changed how you approach your projects as a photographer?
Sebastian Palmer: It’s very different. In fact it’s
liberating. Also, you don’t have the hassle of carrying around a
lot of equipment. Only having a phone means you blend in to the
crowd and don’t intimidate people as a ‘professional
What’s the atmosphere like in Brazil at the
At the beginning, things were tense but as the tournament has
progressed there has been more of a party atmosphere. People are
enjoying themselves and when Brazil plays, it’s just like
Have you found yourself in any tricky
situations in Brazil while shooting?
The demonstration that took place in SÃ£o Paulo before the
opening match was a bit hairy with the
policeÂ repeatedlyÂ firing tear-gas and rubber bullets into
the crowd. Another incident was when I went to an area in SÃ£o Paulo
known as CracolÃ¢ndia [crackland] a six-block area where all of the
crack addicts live.Â
How do you go about finding your
I am always planning where to go, searching what is
happening in the city and places where I can find a story. I try to
visit as many different and diverse places as possible. Then, once
I get there, things are more spontaneous and I look for interesting
characters and people that catch my eye.
How difficult is it to take a true candid
shot of someone?Â
Like with anything, If you’re in the right place, at the
right time, it’s not that difficult to take a true candid shot but
youÂ always have to be looking around aware. But, when shooting
with an iPhone you have to be really close to your subject so
people are alerted by your presence. I’ve never had someone make me
delete a photo though but I have had some confrontations but only
What’s the best thing you’ve learnt this
To retrain my brain on how to shoot and to enjoy
photography in a different way. Also, not to be afraid to take a
shot because you might offend someone.
What’s the general reaction been to Brazil
hosting the World Cup, according to the locals?Â
Now that the Cup is underway, the majority of people I
talk to all acknowledge that Brazil was not ready to host and
shouldn’t have, as the money should have been spent in areas
seriously lacking such as education and health, but now that it is
happening, they just want to enjoy it. After all they are a
football crazed nation.
What are the best photo-editing apps?
I use VSCO to capture my shots.
What are your top tips and tricks on
Usually I prefer to edit my photos through VSCO because
they have more editing options than Instagram but if I am using
Instagram, x-pro II or Lo-fi are my favourite filters.
Who are you supporting?
Obviously it was England but now that they’re out I’m
rooting for Costa Rica [underdog spirit] or Brazil [because if I
don"t, my girlfriend will kill me.]
Who else do you like to follow on
1. Associated Press chief photographer for AsiaÂ @dguttenfelder who mainly puts up iPhone photos
of North Korea.
2. Associate photo editor at New York Time Magazine @stace_a_lace takes a series of photos
documenting various styles and shapes of women’s
3. South African documentary photographer @peturb
4. Photojournalist from Magnum @michaelchristopherbrown covers Africa and war
5. And, finally, photojournalist agency @VIIphotoÂ
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