Taking Flight With Polly Brown

Polly Brown collaborates with Mr & Mrs Smith to capture a photograph that embodies each of their twelve award-winning hotels, for an around-the-world project that only ignites her love for travel even more. From the North of Sweden and across the Pacific to Japan, Polly’s artistic talent behind a camera takes flight.

Polly Brown is an extraordinary photographer with a knack for capturing ordinary objects. From her first published book, Plants, to various projects surrounding one of her favorite interests – travel – Polly’s work always hints at a sense of the personal within the inanimate. Nonliving objects feel and look more alive through the lens of this London-based artist, which is exactly the raw talent that has enabled her to work with a wide range of institutions and big brands from around the globe including Alexander McQueen, Chloe, The Gourmand, the Frieze Art Fair, the ICA and Givenchy.

Her most recent assignment includes a project with Mr & Mrs Smith – the luxury boutique hotel collection handpicked by exceptional travel experts ranging from international model Ruth Crilly to restaurateur Anthony Demetre. For this endeavor, Mr & Mrs Smith commissioned Polly to go on a round-the-world adventure to capture a total of 12 images, one for each of their award-winning hotels in the Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards. The journey took Polly from London, to the far north of Sweden, on to the Algarve via Como and Basilicata in Italy, west to New York, up to Canada, down to Chile, then to Australia, east to Japan and, finally, to Thailand. From Best Date-Night Bar to Hottest Hotel Soundtrack, each image illustrates a single detail that gave the hotel its top-of-category status. While the results will be officially announced in early 2017, Polly gives us an inside look at the art of capturing a hotel’s personality and her deep-rooted affair with travel.


Do you often find yourself traveling solo? If so- what has your experience been like as a solo traveler?

I travel alone very often. I think I’ve actually become a slightly annoying person to travel with as I spend so much time dawdling and wandering about looking at random stuff on the street. Traveling alone means it can take you 2 hours to do a 20 minute walk if you like, as no one is waiting for you to hurry up.

What are a few of your must-have travel essentials?

A safety pin, a blanket and a camera.

How has your personal photography aesthetic developed over the years? How did your upbringing influence this?

What I take pictures of changes all the time. At the moment for example I’m having a deep romance with taking photos of satellite dishes. The images are always a reflection in some way of what’s going on in life at the time, even if in an abstract way.

Your journey with Mr & Mrs Smith took you to ten wildly different countries around the world… what were a few of your highlight stops along the way?

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, was one of my favourite places. Dreamlike with its icebergs and stories of fishing boats and wild sea winds. I met some amazing people who showed me around and I could have stayed hearing about their island for months. Equally, I had a very very special time in Awasi in Patagonia. I had a personal guide, Kati, who it turned out was the same age as me.  We became friends instantly. There are weirdly tight and unique bonds you can make with people when you are in exceptional situations and traveling alone. I believe these friendships are the best experiences you can take from any trip or holiday.

Can you identify your favorite image from the Mr & Mrs Smith round-the-world trip and why?

My favourite is the shot from Japan. It is rich and grainy and graphic and dark. Japan has such a distinct feeling when you are there, it permeates everything. I feel like the picture soak has some of the magical feeling of Nemu.