Manchester-based photographer Nick Glackin is pushing the boundaries of modern footwear photography little by little. His clever images of miniature figures interacting with sneakers started as fun idea for a competition and has now led to him working with big sportswear brands such as Nike and Adidas. Read our interview with Nick below and follow our Instagram account where he will be posting some of his favourite images for you.
Tell us about how your photography journey began.
It actually began with Instagram maybe just over 3 years ago, my friend convinced me to join and share some images. At the start I was very reluctant, I didn’t think that many people would be interested in my interest of shoes. From there I discovered a whole community of people who shared similar passions. From there it has been a very natural learning and progression curve, I have learned so much and happy to say that I am still learning.
Was your focus always on shoes or was there a moment when you decided this would be your main subject
It has always been shoes, I have a bit of an obsession with sneakers/trainers and have collected them on and off for about 15 years, so it was natural for me to just snap away at them and it helps that I find it fun too. Having a quite a few pairs means you always have a new subject if you want one.
How did your idea of incorporating miniature figures into shoe photos come about?
It started 3 years ago, for the first Air Max Day celebration, organised by Nike. There was competition to go to the first Sneakerball, which was a huge celebration of all things Air Max, this was held in Paris at the Pompidou Centre, which was the inspiration behind the concept of the visible air unit on the Air Max 87, or the Air Max 1 as it is more widely known. The competition was to come up with a creative image of any Air Max shoe. I wanted to convey that the Air Max was a big shoe in anyones world, so I started messing around with the model figures to provide that feeling of scale and magnitude, yet still tie into the theme or concept of the shoe.
Did this original idea help you get more work as a photographer?
Definitely, it certainly got me noticed by a few big sportswear brands, who I am very happy to say I have managed to get involved with over the past few years.
Has Instagram been an important part of your career?
Indeed it has, although I wouldn’t say I have a photography career as such, Instagram is the only platform I use for sharing my images (I know I should look at more outlets). It is more of a hobby for me, which has allowed me to interact with several large sportswear and streetwear brands, who I have always admired. My actual day job is a little more distant from the creative world of photography, engineering based, so being able to play around and get creative with footwear imagery is a very nice distraction to have.
What advice would you give to photographers who want to raise awareness of their work?
I’m probably not the best person to be offering advice on this aspect, as I have had a very natural and fortunate progression over the last few years. But from what I have learned over that period, I would say get to know the Media Agencies in your area/surrounding cities (I have found sportswear companies often use media agencies more than directly engaging with individuals), or even nationally, for the field of photography you want to pursue, create an online portfolio, (something that I keep getting advised to do, yet haven’t myself!!) and promote yourself through those channels.
What do you think are the biggest difficulties young photographers face today in trying to build a career?
Gaining recognition from your peers or the people/companies you want to notice you. Since the birth of Instagram and similar social platforms, so many people are now clambering to become photographers, so the battle to get your work noticed is amplified so much due to the high volume of people wanting to make a career from it. I don’t really class myself as a photographer (other than a recreational one), so I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been lucky enough to have been involved in the projects I have been so far.
Aside from shoes, what are some other things you like to shoot?
Mostly my family, I have 2 very young children that I like to capture as much as possible. Time is very precious due to work commitments, so I like to spend as much time with my family as I can, I would love to be able to have time to get into street photography, but I don’t think I have the eye for that type of photography, I want to learn though!
Where do you get inspiration from?
Specifically for the footwear images, that comes directly from the shoes themselves or the design concepts behind them. Anything from the history, the back story, the colours, the materials and textures, I try to make sure I stay connected with some of those features for each image.
What are your goals for the future in photography?
I’d love to pursue it in a more dedicated fashion, but having a young family and a demanding job makes that a very difficult and risky decision to make. At the moment I have a happy balance where I can get involved in photography projects with brands and still ensure I maintain my full commitments to my family and my employer. I can’t complain or ask for any more than that.
Written by: Amie Galbraith