British Photographer Vicky Grout On Making It In A Male-Dominated Industry

Vicky Grout image for the O2 Sessions campaign

Earlier this month we spoke with the wonderful Niloufar Nourbakhah, the Iranian musician who is blazing a trail in male-dominated classical music. Another inspirational woman making her mark in the world of music is young Grime photographer Vicky Grout.

A phenomenon born in London, Grime features fast-paced rapping over electronic bass-heavy dance music – launching British MCs such as Stormzy and Skepta – who were then brought to global attention through collaborations with Drake. 

Grime may be a world away from classical music, but in both genres male artists prevail. On the 2018 line up for London’s three-day Wireless Festival (which hosts some of Grime’s hottest stars) only three acts were female. Then there’s the world of photography. At the 2017 World Press Exhibit, in Barcelona, only 5 of 46 photographers on show were women. 

Photographer Vicky Grout started out simply as a fan capturing the atmosphere at a live show but is now a big name on the Grime scene in her own right. It was a shot of Skepta, subsequently used as his album cover, that was her breakthrough moment.

“It’s exciting to document something which is underground or up and coming” she says. “My pictures have got us both [Skepta] noticed, so I feel like we’re helping each other out.”

Vicky Grout image for the O2 Sessions campaign

Her photographs of Grime’s most prolific artists have featured in the likes of Time Out London, Fader and Clash magazines, proving that talent and determination can pay off even without expensive training – she passes along her knowledge and more of her story in a photography tutorial

Vicky Grout has become a true role model for both hopeful future photographers and entrepreneurial young women trying to pursue their passion and make it in a man’s world. 

“It was all so unintentional. I was a raver and a fan with a camera,” she tells us, “I was just going to raves with my friends and took photos and put them on my blog. This was pre-Instagram and pre-social media as it is today.”

A photograph from Vicky has become a badge of recognition for Grime artists, with more and more up-and-coming MCs employing her to portray them in her signature grainy, old-school style.  “This was a hobby first” admits Vicky, who originally wanted to be a graphic designer. “Making this a career was never my intention.” 

Back in 2016, at only 19, Vicky was marked as one to watch as she was featured in complex.com’s ‘30 under 30’ for music industry creatives. “I love music, I loved that type of music, those were the shows I’d go to” she continues “So I think it’s important that it’s a full-on passion.” 

Vicky Grout image for the O2 Sessions campaign

Vicky is using her platform to help out other women. Looking through the portraits on her website it’s immediately apparent how many women she actively promote. From established Manchester-based singer IAMDDB to the emerging talent of London rapper Flohio, Vicky is helping to showcase some of the best young female talent in music.

Much of what holds women back in their chosen fields is a lack of self-confidence –sometimes called imposter syndrome. Vicky counters this with a practical attitude: “Make sure you get your work out there. I know so many artists who torture themselves over their work and never put anything out – and nobody sees it. Don’t be overly critical of yourself and your work.”

Vicky has recently collaborated with mobile network operator O2 to produce O2 Sessions: a photography tutorial based at capturing high quality portrait photos on mobile phones. She shares some essential tips for stunning portraits:

  1. Get to a stage where you’re shooting fully manually. You don’t have to right at the beginning, but that should be the aim.
  2. Practise on your friends. The more you practise, the more you’ll get to know your personal style.
  3. Look for inspiration from other people’s work. Don’t compare yourself with them, but just look at things you like and would like to try yourself.
Vicky Grout image for the O2 Sessions campaign

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