Glen Allsop, Photographer
Interview, 20 October 2021
In conversation with Glen Allsop. The East Hampton, NY-based photographer. Sharing his thoughts on light, why imperfection is underrated and how his passion for cycling and cortados turned into founding East Hampton Cycling Club.
People often talk about good light and how important it is. We’re curious on what you do when the light isn’t going your way. Is there such a thing as bad light in photography?
— I think a large part of being a professional photographer is being professional about dealing with the cards you’re dealt. You have to be a professional problem-solver. Only rarely are you dealt with ‘perfect light’, particularly in a natural light setting. You really have to find light, the best you can, and work with it. If you’ve been shooting long enough then there’s a solution for everything. It’s problem-solving. Sometimes under a lot of pressure, but there’s going to be a solution.
So if the light isn’t going my way, I change my way. I reassess. I might change my angle, my lens, my lighting setup, perhaps even my approach to what we’re shooting – come at it with a different idea until the light IS going my way. We may have the luxury of circling back and shooting it again in different light, we might not. Sometimes you have to shoot through it, that is, just keep shooting it, keep searching, other times you have to stop and take a moment to figure it out.
I don’t think there’s really such thing as ‘bad light’… Instead I’d dare say there’s less-desirable choices made by photographers, whether or not they knew it, and whether or not it was intentional. Is that diplomatic enough?
Why is sharpness overrated?
— HA! Good question. This became more of a personal mantra to me as a reminder that the ‘perfect’ technical execution of a photograph doesn’t necessarily create the best shot. I love those shots that you love but can’t quite put your finger on why it’s so good. I love the idea of a photograph conveying a feeling. So when you’re taking a picture, if you think about conveying a feeling or mood instead of a picture, then the parameters for ‘perfect’ change. Technical imperfections can add to the feeling, the atmosphere of a shot.
Say if you’re shooting a vintage Mercedes wagon cruising around a winding road in the fall, you want to convey what that felt like, which essentially is movement and color, right? You don’t need every inch of the car or for the leaves to be crispy sharp – as long as you have enough facts there for the viewer to comprehend the car, the rest should be about motion. So you drag the shutter a little, swipe and pray you’ve got something. Or that he’ll turn around and give you another chance. But again – ‘sharpness is overrated’ is more of a personal reminder now and again than something to live by 100% of the time. If you’re shooting architecture or watches then sharpness most definitely isn’t overrated.
You’ve recently founded the East Hampton Cycling Club (@easthamptoncyclingclub). Tell us more about the project?
— The East Hampton Cycling Club is the most prestigious cycling club that you’ve never heard of… haha. We are a very small crew of like-minded cyclists across the globe who don’t necessarily ride together. Loosely based in East Hampton, because that’s where the majority of us are, we’re probably not the fastest but we’re definitely not the slowest. We appreciate a good playlist as much as a perfectly poured cortado.
Founded in 2020 with my oldest friend Edward Bertouch, we thought it’d be fun to establish a brand that was fun. Too many cycling brands are way too serious. We love to ride and I love how cycling is one of those communities – similar to cars and watches – that can instantly connect people across different age groups, careers, locations even. Out on the road it doesn’t matter. We can all have a good time together struggling our way up a hill. Similarly a lone rider in California or DC can wear an East Hampton Cycling Club jersey and know that they’re part of something.
I guess we’re more of a brand than a club per se. We dropped a few totes and tees and hats earlier this year, and collab’ed with Rapha to make a cycling jersey. We have more planned for fall and are just taking it one step at a time. Not in a hurry for world domination just yet. Personally I love the challenge of taking photos whilst riding and building imagery around a brand to create a vibe. I haven’t dared venture out with anything bigger than an iPhone, for aero reasons obviously, haha, but sometimes an iPhone is all you need. It comes back to conveying a feeling.
Are there similarities between being on a bike and behind behind the camera?
— I guess you could say it’s GO-GO-GO… non-stop until you stop for coffee! And you should always stop for coffee.