Philipp Pley: a very London photographer

We meet an auditor who balances his stressy job with snapping the capital

Image of London by night from the Tate by Philipp Pley


hilipp Pley has a big love for the capital: he moved here from South Africa three years ago after landing a job in finance – and has been taking photos in his spare time ever since. With a loose theme of sunsets, buses and traffic, he’s accumulated over 35k followers on Instagram.

More recently, he’s branched out to other parts of the world: climbing mountains to capture the surreal landscape of the northernmost part of Norway, trying out new techniques in Paris and helping document an event for animal conservation in India. We grab Philipp for a chat to get the lowdown.

How do you stay inspired?
The best way is to be out and about and near something; you’re not going to find it staying home. No two sundowns or weather days are the same.

What’s your top tip?
As you grow and progress you figure out what works for you. I started off taking six hundred snaps a day and then had to pick out the best, now I take around thirty. I know what I’m after: less spray and pray, more focus.


Talk us through your next challenge.
My YouTube channel: I’m telling a story and teaching viewers. It’s about growing beyond posting photos – not just showing the final product but linking to the thought process behind it. It’s my passion project where I can be more expressive. I’ve also done a few weddings, they’re another learning opportunity. I want to evolve beyond Instagram so as not to put all my eggs in one basket: I attribute a lot of my success to it but I’m not hedging my whole bet on it.

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Three of Philipp’s favourites

Image of London by night from the Tate by Philipp Pley
London by night from Southbank. Photo: Philipp Pley

“I took this from the top of Tate Modern using a tripod. They’re banned up there: security came over and screamed at me. I’m ethically 100% ok with that, I don’t see it as a problem – you just have to go for it. Sometimes asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission.”

Regent Street’s Christmas Lights. Photo: Philipp Pley

“I’ve been working with the entity that runs Regent Street, who invited me to a rooftop that overlooks the street. London does Christmas lights better than any other city and it’s my favourite time of year to photograph, because the entire city changes temporarily and is extremely vibrant and colourful which I love.”

An aerial shot of King's Cross by Philipp Pley
King’s Cross. Photo: Philipp Pley

“My first cover – and for this very publication’s September issue, in fact. I took the shot from the office of one of my clients, a location not open to the public. It’s great to find exposures that people don’t typically have. It’s very much in tune with my theme; it may seem clichéd, but you have to do what you like.”

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Follow Philipp on Instagram @philipp_pley, watch his YouTube channel here. More info.

Main image: Philipp Pley

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