BELONG TO THE ARTIST
(MIRAMONO) Hi Pip, thank you for finding some time to make our interview. How are you doing lately? could you tell us a bit about yourself?
(Pip) I’m great, thank you. My name is Pip and I’m a portrait and fine art photographer, originally from Yorkshire in Northern England but I’ve spent the last fifteen years living and working in London. Most of my work involves photographing people within the entertainment industries for editorial and commercial clients, but I’m increasingly shooting more art-driven and personal projects.
How did you discover photography? and when did you start to realize it would become a part of your life?
I always loved drawing and painting as a kid, but I was incredibly slow and often found that frustrating. Photography allowed me to utilise my artistry with lighting, composition and creative direction whilst offering tangible results much quicker. As I matured socially, I then fell in love with the process of connecting and collaborating with my subjects – that’s when it really became part of my whole identity.
How were your very first years in photography? did you have any idea of the topics or the things you wanted to shoot? how long it took you to get your current style?
From the start always knew I primarily wanted to photograph people. In the beginning that involved shooting my friends, many of whom were aspiring musicians, actors and models - that’s where I really cut my teeth, learning how to get the most out of locations and work with natural light. Since then, I’ve steadily gravitated towards mastering lighting in more controlled environments and pushing the creative parameters of photography. My style is ever-evolving - I’m always trying and learning new things - so it’s actually taken me fifteen years to get to my current style. I’m excited to see how it develops over the next decade!
What does your typical day look like?
Being a self-employed artist there’s really no such thing as a typical day. Shoot days are hectic and all-consuming, but whenever I’m not shooting I’ll be working on personal projects or doing pre/post-production on future jobs. Retouching often takes up a lot of my time, and is personally one of my favourite parts of the whole shoot process. I used to work obsessively all day and night, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised the value in creating some mental distance from photography. In the evenings I’ll spend time with friends or work out to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
How is photographing a celebrity different from photographing a regular person?
Fundamentally it’s no different. Celebrities are often built up in the media to be these phenomenally confident superhumans, but in my experience they have all the same hopes and fears as the rest of us. You have to be aware of what they are promoting and portraying them in a way that is conducive with their personal brand, but principally it’s the same as shooting anyone. Generally, celebrities are used to having their picture taken so they can often be slightly more comfortable in front of the camera; although that’s a double-edged sword because it means your images of them needs to stand out from the work of everyone else that’s shot them.
What has been your most powerful work in your own view?
I recently shot a fine art series called Daemons which I’m very proud of. I developed my own long, multiple-exposure technique with red light trails to create a painterly motion effect in-camera. I think the results are emotional and visually striking.
Could you take one of your photographs and tell us the story behind that?
This was one of the first images I ever took many years ago back in Yorkshire. It’s of one of my oldest friends – Benjamin Francis Leftwich – in a place called Robin Hood’s Bay where we spent a lot of time as teenagers. It’s an image that represents the very start of both of our respective careers and holds a very special place in both my portfolio and my heart.
Where do you get your inspiration from? is there any artist or photographer that particularly inspires you? which photographer would you like us to interview?
I’m inspired by so many photographers. I love a lot of the old film masters like Irving Penn and Ansel Adams and the portraiture of Mark Seliger and Anton Corbijn. You’ve already featured my friend Lena Aires; she’s a great photographer and a wonderful human. I’d love to see you interview Todd Hido, I think his work is really special.
Would you share with us your studio?
And finally, would you like to tell us about future projects or promote anything?
I’m currently working on my most ambitious project to date. Sadly, I cannot reveal much about it other it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s going to be a massive fine art series, and hopefully an exhibition here in London, that encapsulates everything I know about photography. If you follow me on Instagram @bypip I’ll be announcing it later this year on there.