MPA Photographer Spotlight: Paul Bogle

MPA Photographer Spotlight: Paul Bogle

23rd November 2023

This week in our spotlight series we welcome South London-based photographer Paul Allotei Bogle, who was nominated in our Music Moment of the Year category for his mesmerising shot of Stormzy and DAVE.

Paul explains that his skills in “capturing intense and detailed shots that bring out every aspect of the subject in their environment". In this piece, Paul touches upon how it felt to be nominated for this year's awards, his biggest inspiration and much more.



How did it feel to be nominated in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2023?

Being nominated for the MPAs has been the highlight of my photography journey. Words cannot express how I felt when I received the email letting me know I had made the finalists and that I had been invited to the ceremony. Finally, I felt like I was on the right track to be able to quit my two jobs and dedicate my time to my passion.

Why do you think it is important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography?

As an artist, I believe we create our work for the world to enjoy, and to know that others recognise the effort and time we invest in our work is a feeling worth more than any payday. This is because I feel that the majority of creatives do what we do not for the money, but because it's what we love. We would continue to create and pursue our passions for the rest of our lives, even if we didn't earn a penny from it.

Have you seen any benefits to you since being nominated?

Personally since being nominated for the MPAs, the main benefit I have noticed is the respect I have gained among photographers already in the industry and other aspiring photographers, I plan on using my nomination to hopefully gain more photo passes to festivals and shows in aim of strengthen my portfolio in hopes of leading to continuous work.


Getting Started:

How did you fall into music photography specifically?

My journey into music photography first started in 2015 while studying multimedia at college. I used the opportunity to rent cameras at college as an excuse to base all my projects around filming my friends and local artists, mainly in the genres of grime and rap.

Was there a particular image, body of work or photographer that was a major inspiration when starting out?

I find inspiration from many different photographers, not just in the music industry. I follow them on Instagram and have spent hours looking through the many books I own. To name a few, there are Portraits by Gunner Stahl, Go by Nigel Sylvester, Contact High, and Ice Cold by Vikki Tobak.

What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer?

Personally, I believe what makes a good music photographer is someone who can capture the emotions in the atmosphere of the venue, someone who can seize unique moments that cannot be replicated, and the artists or musicians in personal moments that make them relatable.

What advice would you give to someone getting started?

My advice for someone starting out is not to become a photographer with the expectation of becoming rich or famous because you're in for a big surprise. Do it because it's what you love. This journey is not for the faint-hearted and you're going to hear a lot of "no's". The hardest thing is to keep going when you feel stagnant and things are not working out. But I can tell you, if it's truly what you love, you'll find a way to persevere, and in the end, it will work out. Trust me!

How did you go about building a portfolio?

I used to attend local skating events in my area, and I built my first portfolio and following by shooting roughly a year of speculative work and consistently posting it online.


Top Tips:

What are your top tips you can give to any music photographer?

1) Take any opportunity you have to network with other photographers and those in the music industry.

2) Don't be afraid to ask questions of those who have been shooting for longer than you have.

3) Practice and perfect your low-light photography. Don't think you need the latest camera; instead, learn your current camera in depth.

What are some post-processing techniques that can enhance your music photography?

Before delving into music photography, I spent the majority of my free time simply leaving my house with my camera, not knowing where I was going, and shooting street photography. This naturally led me to develop a very candid behind-the-scenes (BTS) photography documentary style, something I believe has helped make my images unique. It has made me very observant at all times, paying attention to moments from the moment I enter a venue.

How do you create a distinctive style and visual identity in your music photography?

Take the elements you appreciate from the work of photographers you admire and incorporate them into your shooting style. However, never merely copy; ensure your work is unique and discover a way to convey your own personality through your photography.



When shooting a live show, how do you prepare? What challenges do you typically face?

My preparation when shooting a live show begins when I arrive at a venue. I strive to always arrive early so that I can explore the venue before the crowd arrives. This allows me to scout for areas from which I can envision capturing great shots. Additionally, I observe the various lighting conditions within the venue to get an idea of the camera settings, which helps expedite my response while shooting.

Do you have a preference of working on location/on tour vs in a studio?

Personally, I enjoy all types of photography, and I do not have a preference. However, I have the most experience shooting behind-the-scenes (BTS), so I feel that I thrive the most when capturing moments of movement.


Creativity / Inspiration:

In your opinion, what distinguishes a remarkable photograph from an ordinary one? What elements do you priorities when framing your shots?

In my opinion, what makes a remarkable photograph is when someone's work makes you pause and contemplate their image. For example, the story behind the image, the time, the place, and the subject – even if it's just for a split second, their images capture your full attention.

Do you think there’s a genre of music that naturally lends itself to photography?

I believe that immersing yourself in anything you are passionate about will enhance your photography. Just being present and able to observe like a fly on the wall, life itself will provide you with the gift of moments.

Who is someone, alive or dead, you’d love to photograph?

Sadly, Virgil Abloh was someone I would have loved to photograph. He was such a visionary, and shooting him while he worked in the studio and documenting his process from bringing an idea to life would have been such an amazing and educational experience.


Working with artists:

How does your approach differ when working with upcoming talent versus established artists?

I would say that when I work with an artist, regardless of their level, I strive to make all artists feel comfortable and capture powerful shots that authentically represent their artistry. However, I acknowledge that established artists have more at stake, so I put a lot more thought into my approach to align with their image and vision. Upcoming artists tend to give me more creative freedom to do my thing, and they are more open to new ideas.

How does the photographic process differ between working with introverts and extroverts?

When working with someone introverted, being an introvert myself, I ensure that I take things slowly and allow for more quiet time. I don't push for constant conversation. On the flip side, when I'm working with someone extroverted, I am prepared for a high-energy atmosphere, more conversation, and a willingness to let them take the lead.

Have you ever been starstruck when photographing someone? How do you overcome that?

I have definitely been starstruck a few times while photographing celebrities. I watch many interviews and podcasts with artists I admire, and one thing they all emphasise is the desire to be treated normally, not placed on a pedestal. Therefore, when photographing non-tertiary individuals, I always aim to treat them with the same respect. I have found that this approach works to my benefit, as they often reciprocate my energy and allow me into their personal space for those emotional shots.


Business / Social Media:

How has social media shaped music photography, both as a craft more generally, as well as your personal work?

I think social media has had a huge impact on music photography it has created a demand for content and as a result of photographers and videographers have never been in demand as much as the times, we are currently in. Social media also provides direct behind-the-scenes access to concerts and artists. Photographers can share their work online directly with their audiences in hope of gaining exposure and opportunities direct from clients.

What are some common mistakes new photographers make when starting out on the business side of things, and how can they be avoided?

I believe a mistake that many new photographers make, and something I definitely did when starting out, is undervaluing their skills. I didn't research what other photographers charged for the same types of services until much later in my journey. But I wish I had started pricing competitively based on my skill level much earlier.

In one word, how would you describe your photography?



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