I've known Phil for perhaps a year now and there isn't much he doesn't know about photography. His street photography and wildlife work in particular is amongst the best I've seen. His eye for detail and composition is also something to admire. The way I'd describe Phil is... He's Blackpool's very own (male version) Vivian Maier. He has mentioned to me in the past, his collection of E6 Slide Film stored away in his attic that I can only imagine contains some beautiful images.
Phil recently got back in to shooting film and has just bought himself a gorgeous little Rollei 135T and a few rolls of Portra 160 to play with. Since starting the Shoot Film UK site I've been talking about film with Phil and I'm happy to say we've got some past work and answers to our interview questions to share with you.
The following images are shot on a Contax G2 with Fuji Velvia Film during trips to Florence and Sienna.
SFUK: Tell us a little about yourself and your background in photography.
PA:Slightly old now and born in Blackpool at the beginning of the 1950's, so a childhood spent out and about exploring, learning, misbehaving and generally taking in a multitude of interests. Spent the first few years of working life at the Winter Gardens before moving to a career in the Insurance Industry at Guardian Royal Exchange who had acquired the Clifton family estate in Lytham, including the old Hall and built the main offices in the town. Having already taken an interest in photography when a friend, who worked at Dixons, sold me a Chinon Memotron CE2 SLR, my interest increased when I was transferred to work in a small office at Lytham Hall. Working there on the estate was a chap called Bob Allen FRPS, a fantastic award winning amateur photographer who encouraged me further to pursue my interest. I did join a local photographic society but didn't stay long as I found it all a bit too competitive and governed by rules. Never liked to be told what to photograph, how, when, where and why etc...From there on I chose Pentax cameras for my film photography, though I have had periods using other makes, like the wonderful rangefinders e.g. Leica and Contax. Also dabbled a bit in medium format with Rolleiflex and even had a period of developing my own b & w film. Stayed with Pentax when eventually moving over to digital SLR's just, I suppose, to move on with the times.
SFUK: Why do you shoot film, have you always shot film & do you switch between digital and film?
PA:Only just decided to get back to shooting film again, alongside my digital photography. I have always enjoyed shooting film more than digital, as there is just so much more to it and a wonderful sense of anticipation awaiting the results from a roll of film, as oppose to simply instantly checking the digital image you have taken and trying again if not satisfied. Also you are much more careful and precise with your choice of subject being restricted to a 24 or 36 roll of film and think more about the lighting, composition, settings needed etc.. However, having said that, the sheer technological advances made with digital photography give people so much scope and ability to capture wonderful images and the cost factor of doing a lot of film photography is too prohibitive. So I will continue in the main with digital and just shoot film now and again for the simple pleasure it brings.
SFUK: Who inspires you, any favourite people or places you frequently go to for inspiration?
PA:I suppose that initially the chap I mentioned earlier, Bob Allen, was my initial inspiration, as having seen the photos he took just using (like me) a Pentax SLR made me want to be able to do so too. He showed me how to use lenses for macro work, as I was particularly interested in nature having spent a childhood out playing in the woods, sand dune reserves locally and pond dipping etc..so I already had a keen interest in flora and fauna, especially the insect world that simply blows away anything the fantasy film makers can create with CGI. So perhaps you could say that nature was my main inspiration. Never really bothered to spend time learning about and studying the well known great photographers, or the technical side of things. I still enjoy the most just going out to quiet areas of countryside with my camera to sit perhaps by a small stream in the woods, or far out on the beach. Just about anywhere away from it all for a while. Having said that I also enjoy just wandering around places doing a bit of abstract, architectural and street photography . Landscapes too of course but being a tad lazy I rarely have the motivation to be up out very early as the sun rises in a remote place to capture the very best shots !
SFUK: How would you describe your style of shooting?
PA: My style, if I have one, is generally totally unplanned and I suppose I just, without really thinking, am always noticing what is around me and weighing up any potential scene, pattern, characters, scenarios etc. that may make an interesting photo opportunity. Having said that I do of course at times plan something or somewhere to photograph, especially if on an outing to look for wildlife to shoot, or a particular place or activity where things of interest may be happening. Choosing the right equipment, e.g. lenses to take is of course then required. Like many other folk though these days the smartphone camera comes into it's own, as it is always with you and provides opportunities when out and about without my DSLR of film camera.
SFUK: If you could have any camera in the world, which would you choose and why?
PA: Interesting question ? Would I choose a mega expensive Hasselblad medium format, or a vary rare Leica 35mm, - not too sure really.. To be honest I would really like to own again ( I had one but sold it ) the Contax G2 rangefinder millennium kit with the wonderful Carl Zeiss 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses, A true joy to use and in my honest opinion never bettered..
SFUK: Do you have any plans for your next project?
PA: No projects as such at the moment although I have just acquired a secondhand pentax ME super 35mm SLR with 24mm, 50mm and 135mm lenses to play with and am awaiting the return of my first test roll of Ilford HP5 400asa b & w film to see how I have fared in a tentative return to film as a compliment to my digital photography. So we will see what next.