If you go to a grime rave in London there are a couple things that are guaranteed to happen.
One of those is stumbling into Vicky Grout – usually in the front row, rapping to every single word and constantly shooting pictures. Even with her face hidden behind the camera most of the night, you can’t miss her.
Originally born in Poland, Vicky and her family moved to London when she was three and stayed here ever since. Although she’s become synonymous with grime photography, the more familiar you become with her work the more you realise that her focus is portraying everything that’s happening in London culture right now, rather than simply documenting artists. It’s clear that London is a key part of her story.
Where does your passion for photography stem from?
I can’t remember the exact moment I wanted to start shooting. I’ve always liked taking photos. I think the moment when I really wanted to create something through photography was when I found my parents’ old family camera, an Olympus MJU 2. I was 14 and just started shooting non-stop.
I’ve always thought of your photos as representative of what’s going on in London at the moment. I guess growing up in London had a big influence on you?
Yeah definitely, I love London and I love everything that comes out of it. I feel like there’s so much talent and creativity that’s come out of this city over the past few years and I’m proud of that – I try to embody the city’s character in my work, whether it’s through my live shots or my portraits.
“I tend to have a lot of energy and so does Grime music so I think the two of us go together quite nicely”
What is it about grime artists that sparked this urge to shoot them as much as possible?
I started taking photos at grime events when I started raving really, aged 17. I wasn’t even shooting properly these times, I just wanted to document it for myself I guess. I tend to have a lot of energy and so does grime music so I think the two of us go together quite nicely. I especially like shooting MCs because they always seem so passionate, and shooting on film especially. It’s really satisfying when you capture an artist in the right moment.
Some of these photos feel pretty intimate. Have you developed close friendships with these guys while shooting?
I feel like I had already built some sort of relationship with a lot of the artists just from being at all the shows, before I was shooting properly even. Shooting and working alongside certain artists has definitely made our friendships tighter, I would consider AJ Tracey, Faze Miyake and Spooky my big bros.
I find this photos of Jammer and the dog fascinating. What was going on that day? And whose dog is that?
We were shooting some photos for the Boiler Room x LOTM jackets that day, I was shooting some group images when this guy walks past with the biggest dog I’ve seen in my life. Naturally Jammer asked if the dog could star in the photo.
Your photos of Skepta from the ‘Shutdown’ video really stood out when I first saw them. What was it like to be on that set?
That was a pretty special day. It was sick to see how Skepta works on set and how the whole video was made in general. That was my first time shooting BTS for anything, so it was a pretty good one to start off with. There was so many people on set as well, I felt like a little ant running around.
You’ve taken photos of so many people over the last year or so. Which MC is your favourite to shoot?
Probably AJ Tracey, I think that because me and him are friends anyway it just made the day a lot more fun. Not to mention that his are some of my favourite press shots I’ve done.
I think that a lot of the time I try to capture the person naturally, it’s usually the shots that might have been an accident or the person wasn’t ready that tend to be the best because you get a bit of their personality showing through.