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Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf
Philip Metcalf

Philip Metcalf

Country: United States

Philip Metcalf was born in the Finger Lakes area of central New York State. He is a photographer who focuses mainly on the landscape, shooting in black & white infrared. The Fire Ghosts portfolio explores the devastation and unexpected beauty caused by the 2011 Las Conchas forest fire in New Mexico.

In 2013, a photo from this portfolio was selected for the Art of Photography show, curated by Julia Dolan, the Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum and hung in the San Diego Art Institute. Also in 2013, he was a Nominee in the Black & White Spider Awards. In 2014, another photo from the portfolio was selected for the cover of Black & White Magazine (issue # 104).

A graduate of Princeton University, Philip and his wife, photographer Patricia Galagan, live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Interview with Philip Metcalf
AAP: Where did you study photography? With Whom?
Two most important teachers were Charles Harbutt and Kate Carter back in the 1970’s.

Harbutt’s class at The Maine Photo Workshops was ostensibly about the camera, but the real message was the difference between how your eye sees the world vs how a camera sees the world.

Like many young photographers, I started with a couple of camera bodies and several lens. Accordingly, much of one’s time and attention was spent on thinking about equipment combinations. In Ireland with Kate, I was bemoaning the lack of great results. Kate said something was elegantly simple and utterly true: “Remember, it’s all about the light.” That afternoon I went shooting with one body and one lens, a practice that I have followed ever since.

AAP: What or who inspires you?
Nature, especially the wide-open spaces of the Western United States. When I lived on the East Coast, I asked a friend visiting from the West what he thought of the Eastern part of the US. He said it was fine except that he couldn’t see anything. I never really understood what he meant until moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The vast expanses of the West with their unobstructed views for miles and miles are a very different experience than the more circumscribed views of the East.

AAP: How could you describe your style?
Based on nature and the real world, but slightly abstracted.

AAP: Do you have a favorite photograph or series?
My Fire Ghosts portfolio.
 

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Paul Caponigro
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What was it?Tough question, my very first photographs were still largely staged. That reminds me of the corpse of a young man, with countless clothespins on the upper body, or a self-portrait in which I am seen with a pair of shoes on my shoulders.AAP: How could you describe your style?Style is not something that you choose; it happens, to a certain extent, over time. In photography, a signature style is often more difficult to discover, sort of like in painting. A graphologist might interpret my works thusly: "Easy to read, no scrawling, he's going on rapidly and purposefully in problem-solving and asks the right questions at the right moment." I could then add: "Regarding the content, rather puzzling over long distances."AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?One digital camera, one good lens.AAP: What or who inspires you?Since my work is not staged, I'm only inspired when the photographic event unfolds before my eyes, a reverse brainstorming so to speak.AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?Yes, to edit my own photographs is sometimes a lengthy process. The pictures have to go through some tests to be integrated into an ongoing project. This decision-making is sometimes damn hard to reach; it helps to let a few weeks or even months pass.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?Not to listen to any advice...AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?None! 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