We talk to Shutterstock's staff photographer James Gourley about what it was like to go behind the scenes of the show that everyone has been talking about
Which Love Island picture are you most proud of capturing?
The announcement that Jack and Dani won is a good photo. Even though it was expected they would win, the pure shock on their faces made a really nice photo. If not that one, I really like the photo of all the islanders waiting at Palma airport on their phones, they’ve been completely separated from the outside world for up to 8 weeks and I like that they’re all completely reabsorbed back into reality, trying to reply to the thousands of messages. I asked Laura how many messages she had and she said her phone kept crashing purely trying to load them all.
Which of the couples appeared most natural and relaxed in front of each other?
All of the couple’s seemed really happy around each other. They’ve been locked in the villa together for 24 hours a day for quite a few weeks now, if they weren’t comfortable with each other by now, it would have been visible during the show! That being said, it is clear to see that Jack and Dani are very happy together.
Who was your favourite couple to work with?
All of the islanders were lovely to work with, by the time I was on set they were all excited by the prospect of rejoining the real world. I really enjoyed working with Jack & Dani and Josh & Kaz, they’re such bubbly couples which really helps in getting nice photos.
What was your favourite part of the whole experience?
Seeing how happy people were to see the Islanders in Parma and Stansted airports was really nice. People have been watching them every night for 8 weeks and lots of people feel very real attachments to them. When we arrived at the gate for our flight home, security had to set up a queue for people wanting selfies as hundreds of fans rushed to try and meet them.
Who do/did you want to win?
It always had to be Jack and Dani! They’ve been together since day 1 and have provided such entertainment and are such a genuinely lovely couple, it couldn’t be anyone else!
What kit did you use?
I used two Nikon D5’s, a 70-200mm f2.8E and 200-500mm 5.6E lens to shoot the live final, and I shot portraits of the couples with a 50mm 1.4G, the 24-70 2.8G, and a set of SB-5000 flashguns triggered using Nikons WR-R10 system. I transmitted the files live from the Villa using a WT-6 on each camera, which was FTP’ing back to an editor in London who would caption and correct my images before sending them out to the worlds press while the show was still being broadcast.
Were there any challenges photographing the finale?
In a word, yes! A key skill for an on set photographer to have is mostly to squeeze into any spare space that hasn’t already got a Broadcast camera in it. This was extremely difficult for the Live Final, as the set spread over most of the outdoor area of the Villa, meaning there were cameras almost everywhere. For the winner announcement, I had to hide behind the Villa’s swimming pool, trying to avoid falling down a steep hill, whilst also avoiding a crane camera and a remote controlled rolling camera, both of which nearly smashed into me at several moments during the final! Additionally, as the show didn’t finish until around 22:30 UK time, we had to make sure my photos were able to be sent out straight away in order to stand a chance of being used in the next day’s papers, but as the Villa is in the middle of the Mallorcan countryside, 4g signal isn’t great. We were entirely reliant on a WiFi network to send my photos back to London, which had failed every time I tested it, until the transmission started, when it suddenly worked perfectly, allowing us to get all the photos out from the night, which got used in several papers the next day including on 4 front pages!
What was the biggest photographic challenge you faced throughout your career
Becoming a press photographer is generally challenging, as it’s something a lot of people are keen to do. It’s the sort of job you can’t do without real-life experience, but it’s hard to get experience without the backing of an agency/newspaper, who want photographers who already have the experience. When I was starting out, I would do any job, regardless of how small and seemingly pointless, just to work on honing my photography skills, as well as meeting new people who could help me get more work.
See more of James’ work at shutterstock.com