Dublin street photographer reveals his top tips for Instagram success and taking great photos 1 year ago

Dublin street photographer reveals his top tips for Instagram success and taking great photos

Brought to you by Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

Capturing Dublin street life through a lens.

Freddy Kelly, AKA Raw Dublin, has become one of Dublin’s most talked about street photographers and his stunning images of the city have helped him grow an Instagram following of over 19,000 people. Not bad for a man who only started to take photography seriously two years ago!

He is the first collaborator in the upcoming #BlackBushStories event series, which will see talented Irish innovators discuss the secrets to their craft over three nights in Dublin this summer. Freddy is the first creator up on 20 June, and he’ll be offering the audience tips and advice on how to take amazing photos at the 'Black Bush and Photography' event in Drury Buildings. There'll be interactive tasks to get the audience involved, and whiskey lovers can also try some specially-created Black Bush drinks on the night.

We spoke to Freddy ahead of the event to discuss photography, Instagram and what people can expect from his #BlackBushStories evening.

How did you get into photography?

I actually got into photography by chance. My girlfriend bought me a tripod for Christmas and eight months later I eventually took it from its box, grabbed my camera from the attic and flew into town to take a few photos of the Samuel Beckett Bridge from the East Link Toll Bridge. Not really knowing anything about the camera or settings, I used YouTube videos and searched various links to my camera model.

What type of camera do you use?

I started with a Canon 50D and a kit 18-200mm lens. Then I bought a few other lenses as and when I needed them. When it began to get more serious and I had a lot of people looking to buy prints, I upgraded to my current camera, the Canon 5D Mark 4.

How important was Instagram in terms of getting your work out there?

Massive. It was so important. I didn’t have a clue how to use it. I literally spent hours upon hours connecting with other people with a similar interest in photography. Chatting to them and getting inspired by their work, locations and composition.

What is it about your photographs that you think appeals to people?

I think that they get a feeling that they are there or maybe a memory from a time they were there. They may have their own story about that memory or be excited about a future trip here. I have had many people from all over the world contact me to thank me and tell me that the only reason they actually booked their flights and travelled to Dublin and Ireland was because of the photos I have shared. It’s a nice feeling to hear that. 

What do you want to achieve when you’re taking a photo?

I want to make you feel like you are there. I want you to feel how I felt when I took it. The moment of that click, never to be repeated exactly the same ever again. A specific moment in time. A memory. A recorded memory. Life.

Do you research places to photograph or do you take a more organic approach?

A bit of both actually. I use Instagram to research hashtags of locations and see what’s trending. Especially if I am not shooting in my home town. If I am in Dublin, I know most of the hotspots now. Originally, I used inspiration from the guys who were killing the street game in Dublin like Greg @Gregda and Guiseppe @Antppe. These guys gave me so many ideas and lit the creative spark in my mind. I am still inspired by these guys and many more amazing photographers in Dublin, Ireland and across the globe.

What is your favourite thing to photograph?

I love to photograph reflections. It’s kind of become an obsession. I love the way it looks. It’s like a miracle that this dirty little puddle can produce such a clear reflection for your subject. Definitely my favourite.

What’s the most important thing to remember when taking a photograph?

I would say always have your camera ready, whether you use a phone or an actual camera. The best camera you will ever have is the one you are carrying. If you don’t have it on you to capture the moment, you will only have the mental image and unfortunately we haven’t found a way to download those memories into digital format. Well, not yet anyway.

How important is it to get the right shot or can post-production improve any image?

I think there are a few things which are key and yes, post-production can improve any image, but there are a number of things to watch out for. Most importantly, lighting. Without it, your image will be dark and noisy. Secondly, how you frame your shot.

I always use the rule of thirds. If you are not familiar with this let me try to explain it for you. Imagine you split your image into nine equal-sized areas. Where the lines cross is where you want to be placing the focal point or the main part of your image. After this, I would say make sure you capture enough of the scene so that you can crop in later and line up the crossover points of the lines in the rule of thirds we spoke about.

What do you think is the secret to a good Instagram photo?

I think a good Instagram photo needs to appeal visually and fast. You need to grab attention immediately as the feed is going to be full of content from other photographers and creators. I usually post now in portrait format as landscape seems to get lost in the feed. Portrait format will take up the full screen on a phone and will be much more visually appealing and take longer to scroll past for your viewers.

Have you any tips on how to grow your following or create a popular account on Instagram?

This is quite simple. You have to connect. You have to respond to all messages and comments. Not just with a thanks but with your character and personality. You must comment on other people’s content and offer them compliments on their work. Finally, you must tag the biggest share pages in your town, city, country or even the big global pages. This is where you will get further reach when they feature your image.

How has your Instagram fame changed your life?

It’s been really fun. I have had so many doors open, with opportunities for me to do commercial work and it’s great practice and allows me to build up my portfolio. I have been lucky enough to work with some major brands and I have many projects over the coming weeks and months.

I get invited to events, openings, launches and premieres. I get deliveries every second week with gifts and new products to try out. I would love to do it full-time. That’s my number one goal in 2018/2019. To pack in the nine to five and start living the life I want, doing the job I want and working for myself.

How do you balance the photography with your other work?

It’s not easy. I am tired coming home from work every evening but I love photography so I don’t see the four to six hours I spend shooting as work. It’s my passion. I want to be out. It’s like my yoga. It allows me to get exercise, clear my head and be creative.

What advice would you offer to someone who wanted to do street photography?

You only need three things. A camera, streets and a passion for capturing a moment in time. Get out and try it. No better way to learn than getting out and practising. I’m planning on doing classes soon so watch this space.

What can people expect from your Black Bush and Photography event?

If you are attending, you will learn about my story, an insight into the craft of Bushmills Whiskey and leave with an understanding of how to compose and edit content similar to what I create using the likes of Snapseed or Lightroom. There will be some cool interactive tasks that will allow you to get involved and capture your own images on the night. There may be a prize for the best. If anyone asks, you didn’t hear this from me. Looking forward to seeing you on 20 June!

To register for ‘Black Bush and Photography’ and for more information on a social media photography competition Bushmills Irish Whiskey is running, visit the website. To join in the conversation and keep up to date with the #BlackBushStories series, follow Bushmills Irish Whiskey on social media.

Tickets for the event will be allocated on a ballot basis and registration is now open. Please drink responsibly.

Brought to you by Bushmills Irish Whiskey.