Thursday, 26 June 2014

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Having shot everyone from LeBron James for

British GQ 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 moment… 

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 São Paulo before the

opening match was a bit hairy with the

police repeatedly firing tear-gas and rubber bullets into

the crowd. Another incident was when I went to an area in São Paulo

known as Cracolândia [crackland] a six-block area where all of the

crack addicts live. 

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? 
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

you 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

in England!

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? 
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 Asia @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 @VIIphoto,, @sebastianpalmerphotography

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