Air Miles with Rich McCor

1 Jun 2022 by Hannah Brandler
Credit Marcus Maschwitz

Rich McCor, otherwise known as Paperboyo, is a photographer who travels the world with paper cut-outs.

What attracted you to photography? 

The film The Science of Sleep has dream sequences with stop-motion animation. There was something about it that I really liked, especially as it was all made from paper and cardboard. The entry level to get into something like that seemed accessible so I started making stop-motion animation. Eventually I landed on the idea of using paper to interact with landmarks.

When did it click?

I went to Westminster Bridge with a wristwatch cut-out and had Big Ben’s clockface showing through the circle. It felt like something unique that I hadn’t seen anyone else do yet.

How do you choose locations?

The building or architecture usually inspires the idea. I aim to put a twist on a recognisable location.

There are often times when I use a piece of architecture that isn’t that well known but, because it’s striking, it does quite well.

How often do you travel?

Nonstop at the moment, around three weeks every month. The travel projects offer me the most freedom.

How long does the process take?

I give myself an hour to play with different angles, wait for the light to hit the building, for the wind to subside, and for tourists to move. There are so many factors. I’ve occasionally turned up and the building doesn’t exist anymore.

What's your favourite photo?

Dalmatian – taken at an apartment building in Basel, Switzerland. The weather and light were perfect that day. That’s one of the few shots I don’t think I could improve or change in any way.

Dalmatian by Rich McCor

Did the pandemic boost creativity?

Sometimes the more limited you are, the more creative your solutions are. Paper is a restriction – I’ve given myself borders to work within.

Is it challenging to travel with equipment? 

I’ve learnt to streamline my kit so my travel bag is as light as it can be. I used to travel with a tripod then I changed how I shoot my images.

There’s been an evolution of my style. I also make all of my cut-outs and do all of my research before I travel.

What's been your most rewarding travel experience?

In Dubai I wanted to get a photo of the Meydan Bridge. I was about to take a first shot and heard a honk behind me. A security guard said I wasn’t allowed to be there. I showed him the mock-up of the photo, he gave me a smile and said he would return in five minutes, allowing me to get my shot. It was really nice of him.

And most challenging?

Sometimes the challenge is the idea. I try to twist restrictions to be an addition. Sometimes using the thing that’s getting in the way is useful. With the Sagrada Familia, the cranes have become almost as famous as the landmark itself, so I used them as a claw at a fairground.

Do you work with brands?

The first brand that reached out to me was Lonely Planet. They messaged me on Instagram and I genuinely though it was a prank at first. It went down quite well – one of the photos got a million likes on their Instagram.

Most of my clients are tourism boards and travel brands. At the moment I’ve got an ongoing collaboration with Radisson Collection hotels.

What are your dream destinations?

Vancouver and Taipei. Taipei’s looming 101 tower would be awesome to play around with.

What's your indispensable travel gadget?

Google Maps is my lifesaver. Despite all the planning that I do, I love getting inspired on the spot by walking.

What's your in-flight entertainment pick?

Modern Family – every airline has it.

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