One of the original Instagrammers, Neil Andrews discusses how the social media platform shaped his photographs – and how his Olympus gear helps him capture them

Some photographers specialise in wildlife, landscapes or fine art portraits. Others, such as Neil Andrews, find their inspiration in more offbeat quarters. 

“What I really enjoy about photography is that it is a vast subject,” says the London-based pro, “and for me it’s Santa Claus, it’s the seaside, it’s the underground and it’s cityscapes.”

Through his colourful Instagram channels – namely @mumhad1ofthose, which has over 106,000 followers – he gets to indulge each of those inspirations. Although, if push comes to shove, he admits that he’d choose the seaside.

“There is so much to photograph. You have seascapes and landscapes, you have people, you have kitsch, and it’s easier to fly a drone by the seaside. Also I get to still photograph cities by the sea.”

Andrews’ unconventional approach to photography is born of his long involvement with Instagram. He was one of one of the platform’s early adopters, joining what is now the world’s dominant photography portal in 2011 when it was just 7 months old. It wasn’t until the London Olympics, however, that he started truly falling in love with the app’s potential.

“It was an inspiring time to be in this city and I wanted to show my pictures of what I was experiencing to my friends,” he recalls. “It really encouraged my interest in photography. If it wasn’t for Instagram, seeing people’s photos on the feed and meeting people in the community in London, I do not feel that my photography would have the breadth it has.”

Christmas comes early His signature Santa shots led Andrews to create the @santaclauslondon Instagram handle.

“If it wasn’t for Instagram, I do not feel that my photography would have the breadth it has”

Great British seaside Shapes and shadows at the seaside in Littlehampton.

Unsurprisingly, as an urban and outdoor photographer, Andrews stopped using bulky DSLR gear in 2018. “My whole kitbag had become a bit unwieldy and I decided to look for something simpler and lighter to use. Olympus fitted into this category nicely,” he says. “The real advantage for me is that the system is much lighter and smaller.”

He currently uses the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark ll, most often with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm and 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lenses, along with the 25mm M.Zuiko f/1.8 Premium lens. And this smaller system is more than up to the demands of professional shooting. “I do you think that you can use micro 4/3 cameras for professional work,” Andrews states, confidently. “I am being approached because of the quality of my photography and not the equipment that I use.”

Swedish tunnel vision Tunnels and subways, like this one from Stockholm, are a constant fixture on @mumhad1ofthose.

At the end of the day, that quality is what sets a photographer apart. His advice to aspiring shooters, whether they’re Instagrammers or working pros, is simple. “Take photographs of the things that you love, no matter what camera you are using. Learn a few simple techniques, look to other photographers past and present to inspire you, and you will take better photographs and therefore create better memories.”