We’re always jealous of people who can combine art and travel, which is why we couldn’t help but fall in love with Rich McCor’s incredible cut-outs. His Instagram account, @paperboyo, has seen a huge success since he started adding his quirky cardboard designs to worldwide landmarks in June 2015. We caught up with the 29-year-old this week to find out how he’s enjoying his social stardom:
How has being a successful Instagrammer changed your life?
The biggest change is that success on Instagram has opened the door to a plethora of opportunities. Just over a year ago I was cramming in my photography around my job, and now I’m on the cusp of leaving my job to make Instagram a full-time career. It’s been an incredible 12 montha watching interest in my photos take off, and as a result I’ve been fortunate enough to be approached by tourism boards and brands to collaborate with them which has led to amazing experiences. I had a moment earlier this year when I was flying down the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, just above the Colorado River at sunrise, and I thought to myself: “How the heck did I manage to luck out like this?”
What inspires you?
I rarely go looking for inspiration because that usually just gets frustrating, and without meaning to sound lofty, I think it’s better to wait for inspiration to come to you. For me, I find that’s achieved by being observant, interested in my surroundings and ultimately having a desire to want to be creative. Once there’s a cacophony of all those things in my head, my mind somehow manages to occasionally conjure up a moment of genius (although that doesn’t happen nearly as often as I wish it did).
Are you a self-taught photographer?
Mostly, yes. I did briefly studied photography at university as part of my course but I never really immersed myself in it. It’s only been since I’ve developed a real passion for it that I’ve had the patience to really figure out the technical side to get the best out of a camera.
What equipment do you take with you on a shoot?
I like keeping things light, I’ll take a tripod, my Canon 6D and two lenses: a wide-angle and a zoom. If I take anymore than that with me then it weighs me down.
Did you ever think this idea would take off, or was it just purely for fun?
When people started taking an interest in my Instagram, I had a vague hope that maybe I’d get to 10k followers on Instagram and then that would be it. There was definitely no strategy to turn it into anything more than a hobby, but I think anyone who does something purely for the love of it will eventually be rewarded by some means.
How do you make your cut-outs so neat?! We’ve tried having a go in the office, and the results have been disastrous.
Yeah, I can appreciate that – I have a whole pile of disastrous cut-outs in my room! It’s down to patience mostly, cutting has become my meditation. I’ll put some tunes on and spend an evening on the cutting board. It takes time for sure, but if I didn’t love what I was doing I wouldn’t have put nearly as much energy into it.
What’s your favourite image and why?
The UFO in Copenhagen above the Cirkelbroen. I love it because it was one of my very early ones, and because it’s possibly one of the simplest ones too. I remember smiling to myself when I looked through the viewfinder and then showing a random passerby the photo because I was so happy with it.
What’s your least favourite image and why?
The London Eye Bicycle. I love the concept and it’s one of the most popular ones on my Instagram, but it was taken before I had a strong following and I now spend a lot more time on getting the details right in my designs. The thing that bugs me with this one is that the back wheel doesn’t match the size of the London eye (which formed the front wheel). I’ve since re-shot it on a clearer day and with the wheels matching in size, so perhaps I’ll post the new photo sometime to ease my OCD.
Do you have a go-to cut out?
I have a cut out of a whale tail that I take with me on most trips. It’s become like an in-joke on my Instagram that this whale follows me around the world and appears in surprising places.
Which destination has worked best with your cut-outs?
Las Vegas. I never doubted it would be the perfect playground for my style, in fact I ended up coming up with loads of ideas I didn’t get around to capturing, so there’s enough to warrant going back for another trip and getting more snaps. It definitely helped that the Vegas tourist board treated me like a rock star that week because I had the biggest grin on my face the whole time I was there and the good vibes translated into my photos.
People love you – but which travel Instagrammers do you love?
One of the very first Instagram accounts I followed was @abstractsunday. His account introduced me to a whole world of creative imagery and every one of his posts made me smile but also made me annoyed in equal measure. I smile at his creativity and genius, and then become annoyed that he’s so blessed with brilliant ideas. I also love @asenseofhuber and @tanaka_tatsuya who are both brilliant creative minds. Here in London I love keeping up to date with @Londonviewpoints, it’s run by a guy called Michael who is full of energy and will do whatever it takes to get an awesome vantage of the city.
What tips would you give to budding photographers?
My three main tips are: – Don’t get hung up on gear. I used to think that I could only take great photos with the best cameras and the best lenses, but that’s definitely not the case. You can learn the rules of great photography on a camera phone. – Go and make mistakes. In making mistakes I found my own style of photography when I realised I was taking the same photos everyone else was taking. – Join an Instameet. Every now and then Instagrammers will arrange Instameets, it’s a chance to meet like-minded people and learn photography skills from them.
We’d love a sneak-peak into what you’ve got coming up next – where are you planning to use your next cut out?
My next big trip is to Dubai in October. I’m really looking forward to it, the Dubai architecture is ripe for what I do: plenty of bold, quirky, epic and unusual buildings for me to play with. I’m also a big fan of water parks!
How many countries have you visited?
Ever since I got the travel bug on a trip to Africa when I was 16, I’ve spent most of my money on travel. So before the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to receive this year, I’d already seen a good number of places. I think my total number of countries is in the sixties now. I’d love to tick off the seven continents by the time I’m thirty next year.
Where is home for you?
Battersea in London. I love it, Battersea Park is basically my back garden.
Rich has explored the UK, USA, Europe and Australia – the lucky guy! If you want to follow in his footsteps, make an appointment to speak to one of our Travel Experts today and get planning your next adventure.