Holly-Marie Cato

Holly-Marie Cato

How did you get started in photography?

I’ve always been taking photos; I was probably around six years old when I received my first camera. It was a small plastic film camera by Fisher Price. It had two viewfinders; one for each eye, like staring through binoculars, and two handles for my pudgy, small fingers to grip on to. I can’t say a lot of what I took was good. I’m sure the majority were blurry photos of my family and friends half obscured by my fingers. But the love was already there. 

What role has your iPhone and Instagram played in it?

The iPhone was a game changer; it allowed me to take photos everywhere I went. For the first time, I began actively taking photos like I did as a child, but instead of working my way through rolls and rolls of film that were never going to be developed, this was instant. I knew what I captured and I was able to edit and share those photos with the world, or at least the few hundred people that followed me on Instagram. 

Instagram became my visual diary, a log of places I had been to and singular moments I had captured. It helped me fall in love with photography in an all-consuming way I never had before.

How has London influenced your perspective? 

I started my Instagram account while at university in Leicester. A lot of my friends had Instagram but I knew of no one using it for anything other than taking selfies, so I was constantly looking at London-based instgrammers for inspiration. Living outside of London gave me such an appreciation for my home city. So when I moved back, I was so excited to explore, to share my perspective of London and to meet talented Londoners who operated on instagram too. I think these people have shaped and influenced my style of photography more than the city itself. 

Where are your favorite places to go in London? 

My favorite place is where the light is; I love dynamic, natural light and have witnessed some of the best in Holborn. Besides that, it would have to be East. I grew up in East London, it holds so many memories for me and not just from childhood. I’ve experienced some of my favorite sunrises with friends in East London. 

What are you inspired by? 

I’m most inspired by people. I’ve met so most talented people through this app. I’ve made close friends and I’ve formed family. I’m most inspired by instagrammers like @ecolephoto who relentlessly pursues photography

with a hunger I’ve not witnessed before. @vincentchapters who challenges my perception of photography daily, while introducing me to countless other artists, directors, musicians and creative people that have left me inspired. @knockoclock and @imaginationdetonation, who I met at the start of my instagram journey in London; guys who inspired me to take portraits of people on my iPhone, who taught me that people ultimately make an image of London unique. Now, my favorite type of photography is one that deals with people -- portraits and documentary style photography -- and I owe that all to the people I’ve encountered.

What are your favorite Underground stations? 

King’s Cross, St. Pancras is undoubtedly one of my favorite stations. It’s huge and though I travel through the station every week, I still manage to lose my way. I love the sci-fi vibe King’s Cross has. The continuous stream of artificial lights that run along its hanging ceiling and the cold, almost metallic, curved walls make you feel as though you’ve entered a spaceship. 

Tottenham Court Road is a second favorite. I travel here a lot for church. It’s an old outdated station, most of which is covered from curved floor to ceiling

in zany pale yellow and green tiles. But it has a few surprises. 

Despite its rundown nature, Tottenham Court Road has so much character. Parts of the station are undergoing renovation work. I just hope they do not modernize it too much, so that some if its quirkiness remains. 

How does light play into your work? 

I feel a lot more aware of light because of photography. I’m constantly looking at how light falls and interact with the surface of things and I

want to find ways of capturing it. There’s a hashtag, #chasingharshlight used for those moments when harsh light falls on to buildings, casting dramatic shadows across a street. If I see that, I’ve got to go and capture it -- that’s the stuff that excites me the most. Likewise, I love taking portraits in overcast light. The difference between an average photo and a brilliant one is light and good lighting conditions motivate me to go out and take photos.

Interview by Jack Sommer

Kevin De Los Santos