There's no denying that Neel, also known as @flunkingmonkey, has a lust for life. His content is filled with travel, food, and friends. His use of colour is abundant. And his ethos? 'You don't need a DSLR to make great memories.' Find out more about the London based creator below.
How did you get started?
This is actually a long and complicated story. When Instagram was first released, I didn’t really use it that much and my flatmates at university convinced me I needed to start using it properly. So I started uploading images just of my life; life at university, going out with friends, what I was eating.
After a while I experienced some small growth, people I didn’t even know were starting to follow and like my pictures. I remember thinking at the time this was really weird - why do these people want to know me? Why do they like my image? I came to a bit of an impasse, should I go private or should I just keep posting publicly? I decided just to embrace it and carry on posting. During my final year at university, I started getting a rather large following after one or two of my images hit the popular pages on Instagram. I guess this was because even back then I was travelling every summer and posting weekly updates on what I was up to when I was away and back home.
Since then it’s been pretty erratic. I experienced this huge growth and got to around 30 thousand followers, but then I decided to take a bit of break. I posted about 2 images over 3 months, and lost about 4 thousand followers, these were all the people that were pretty much interacting with my posts initially.
When I started travelling full time it was pretty much like starting from scratch. The majority people that used to follow me had forgotten about me. As I travelled I became more active on Instagram (it is a ‘social’ networking app after all). I would look up other travellers, or images of the places I was going to or thought of going to. I would comment and interact with these images and people - either by direct message or commenting on their blogs. I soon started to see new people following me and engaging with my content the same way I was engaging with theirs and others like them. From this point, I sort of developed this new direction for my account.
Where do you find inspiration?
All around me! I’m one of those types of people who could be walking to grab a coffee, and down the road to the coffee shop I could spot 5 or 6 quirky things I think are cool and probably want to take a picture of.
When it comes to my images I try to be unique as I can and take the image I feel in the moment, I try to be candid when possible and not to force images out.
When I’m looking for travel inspiration, I tend to do open searches on Instagram. I look at a variety of people’s accounts and images so I can really get a feel for a place before I set sail.
How do you decide what to share and what to keep private?
I would say I’m pretty much an open book; the majority of my social accounts are open for public view. I tend to keep funny photos with friends or family-based images off my larger platforms, as not everyone is comfortable being displayed on a large scale. But I tend to take each image as it comes.
Any tips and tricks?
I would say don’t be a blogger for the sake of a trend. The majority of successful bloggers do well at what they do because they all love what they write about and the content that they create. Remember, for a long time we all did it for free.
If you do want to become a blogger or photographer or whatever you would like to do on the social scene, I would say do it with passion and not with a goal in sight. When I started my blog it was for me as a memory of my travels, now it happens to be a lot more than that... But the reason I continue is because it’s my passion I enjoy taking photos, I enjoy writing and I love travelling and living life to the full!
What camera and editing software do you use?
The majority of my images were actually taken on my iPhone 6s, and I would say they look fairly decent (although I am my harshest critic)!
When I began to do more brand work and my interest in photography sparked, I invested in an entry level Canon DSLR – EOS 1300D, which works great for me as I’m still learning, and hope that I can continue to learn.
When it comes to editing my images, I use a variety of software depending on my mood or timeframe. If I’m on the go and want to upload an image I tend to use SnapSeed – an amazing photo editing tool by Google, which is available on both iPhone and Android. When I’m at home and have a bit more time I use Adobe Lightroom.
How would you describe your aesthetics?
The majority of my images are full of colour, which I love. I try to be as colourful as possible, mostly because life can get a little dull sometimes and we all need a bit of escape.
I don’t believe I have one directional aesthetic, my images and colouration move with my moods, situation and circumstance, much like life.
Tell us something no one knows about you.
Well If I told it wouldn’t be unknown anymore! But, I guess not many people know that I blog full time alongside my full time job as a Scientific Advisor.
What’s been your favourite piece of work to date?
The content I produced in Jamaica. It was so vivid and colourful and I had such an amazing time shooting out there.
My favourite brand collaboration would have to be my trip to Eindhoven, me and a group of bloggers were flown out to experience the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It was actually a fantastic trip, I went there not knowing much about the city and came away from it waiting to return.
Best thing about being a creator?
Freedom. The ability to be in control of what I want to take pictures of, what I want to write and share. Seeing people enjoy your work really gives me a sense of fulfilment.
If you could give one piece of advice to the younger you what would it be?
Stop caring so much about what other people think, invest in a camera earlier… And hit the gym more please.
Follow Neel here: @flunkingmonkey