Last week we caught up with Siobhan Ferguson, better known for her Instagram handles @prettycitylondon, @prettycities or @siobhaise. A former banker with little photography experience, Siobhan has managed to create three of the most successful Instagram accounts in Europe, with a combined following of 368, 000 followers. To get to know the woman behind the feed we headed down to our Turquoise Island shop on Westbourne Grove for a morning of coffee, photography and flowers.
Tell us a bit about you/ what do you do?
I am originally from Ireland living in West London with my husband and three young boys. I am a former Banker but now work as a social media photographer. I discovered my love for photography around 5 years ago after joining Instagram. Save for a couple of short photography courses I am largely self- taught. I run three Instagram hubs my own feed @siobhaise where I typically share lifestyle shots from my everyday adventures around the pretty neighbourhoods of London. My most popular account is @prettycitylondon, a curated collection of London centric shots all with a pretty classic London vibe. There I showcase other peoples photos as tagged to prettycitylondon.@theprettycities is an extension of the latter to incorporate pretty cities from all over the world.
What is a typical day for you?
‘Mom duties aside’ – my days vary tremendously. My youngest boy is only two so I have child cover for him three half days a week. It’s then I work on my photography. Each day is different. I create content and collaborate for many brands in London so I am often working on those projects. Most of the clients I work with have lifestyle feeds so they like to use my London content be it a pretty street scene, a visit to a museum, brunch in a lovely neighborhood cafe or afternoon tea in a luxurious hotel. Often I gather content by just exploring the neighborhoods of London. I often get to travel with my work and I am just back from an exciting trip to Tuscany. I am currently working on launching a website for Prettycity London so that has been taking up much of my time of late.
How did you get into the world of photography?
I started sharing snapshots of London on Instagram soon after it launched. I was instantly hooked and it truly is a constant source of inspiration. I built up a loyal following and in the last year or so Brands have started t reach out for me to create content for the social feeds.
What camera do you use?
Up until last week I used 100% iPhone but I have just bought an Olympus Pen.. I haven’t fully transitioned yet but so far loving it. Its so light and its interchangeable lenses give you a little room to play. I still reach for my Iphone all the time.
What are your favourite photography spots in London?
Ooh there are so many- honestly North, South, East and West London all have wonderful photo pockets but if I had to chose two it would have to be firstly Notting Hill. I visit time and time again and never tire of it. It is the perfect “pretty city’ neighbourhood. It has everything from flawless pastel houses to well placed bikes. Of course it is also home to Wild at Heart one of my favourite corners of London. Secondly I think it would have to be Hampstead. I love the fact that visiting there makes me feel like I have escaped to the country. It also has some of the best English pubs and cafes and I absolutely love to visit Kenwood House.
Have you always been a fan of Wild at Heart?
oh yes I was lucky to live in Notting Hill for a short while around 12/ 13 years ago it was then I discovered it. I used to walk past every day on my way to work always lingering a little to long admiring the simply stunning bouquets. I fell hard for Wild at Heart when I started photographing London- the concession store at Liberty in Central London is my all time favourite spot to capture.
What kind of flowers do you like to photograph?
Ooh I definitely prefer the paler more antique colour palette and I love peonies in Spring and hydrangea in late summer/ Autumn with Roses being a winner all year round.
Advice when photographing flowers?
I guess the best advice I ever got was to avoid red and deep pinks – they absorb all the light – I tend to chose pale pink hues instead. After that I guess I try and find the best natural light. What flowers do you like to have in your own home? I do always try and have fresh flowers in my home, even if a small selection from my garden – I am a huge fan of eucylyptus leaves I love their tone. After that it depends on the season. My favourite would be spring time peonies.
Tips fort the perfect Instagram?
I think finding a cohesive tone to my imagery helped me create a better feed. I try and mix up the subjects but keep the edits similar. I try and engage my followers with more meaningful captions, simple things which help give the pictures more depth. I plan my gallery ahead and try not to over post, only sharing the photos I feel are my absolute best but most of all I have fun with it all.
Any exciting projects ahead?
I am heading to Copenhagen in a couple of weeks and very excited about that. I am also preparing a little interview with New York Magazine which will be published mid November. I am very excited to be working on my website to add more dialogue to the images I share on Instagram. This is in early planning stages with a view to launching by the end of the year.