Chip Phillips is that rare photographer born with an eye that registers an impression of the subject often stronger than the reality of its elements. It’s a quality that allowed Phillips to advance quickly from an aspiring photographer to a celebrated landscape photographer within just three years. Inspired by the “wilderness photojournalism” of the late Galen Rowell and the stunning images he produced, Phillips was able to develop a unique style with no formal photography training. Today, he is widely published, conducts landscape photography workshops and publishes training videos. Chip invites you to view his work on his Web site: chipphillipsphotography.com.
What event or experience first attracted you to photography?
I was first introduced to adventure landscape photography through the work of Galen Rowell.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue a photography career?
Somewhat recently, within the past 3 years; a couple of years after I started.
Did you receive any formal photography education? Where? Degree earned?
No formal education in photography. I have a degree in music performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA.
Were you influenced by a famous photographer’s style?
Yes, initially Galen Rowell. I was amazed that those types of images were possible.
What was your first professional/commercial photography assignment?
My first published photo was in Popular Photography.
Do you specialize in a specific type of photography?
Yes, landscape photography. I have always loved the outdoors, and it is a perfect fit for me.
How many years have you been a professional in this field?
Since 2009, so it’s approximately 3 years from the date of this interview.
What was your most memorable photography assignment/job/project?
One of my most memorable photography experiences was probably during a backpack trip in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. A massive lightning storm came though when I was near Glacier Lake. I saw a bolt of lightning closer than I ever had before, and closer than I ever want to experience again.
How would you describe your specific style?
Bold, many colors. Sometimes, people refer to my image as painterly, especially my Palouse stuff.
In which major publications have your images been published?
Popular Photography, Digital Camera, Photo Plus, Digital Photographer, Washington State Magazine, Jackson Hole Magazine and Digital Photo, to name a few, and HTC smart phones.
Have you published any books: photography or instructional?
I just released a set of image editing videos, "Image Editing, Volume 1."
Which photography awards have you received?
I was awarded the title of Landscape Photographer of the Year by Digital Camera Magazine in its Photographer of the Year competition during 2009. Two of my images won first and second place.
Which photo of yours is your all-time favorite?
I think "Frosty Morning, Palouse" is my favorite, or "Foggy Sunrise, Palouse."
Where have your photographs been exhibited?
My photographs are on display at the Brick Wall Gallery in downtown Spokane, WA.
Do you conduct photography workshops?
I currently lead workshops, and specialize in the Palouse Region of Washington State. I teach all levels. The only requirement is a DSLR and tripod.
What is most amateur photographers’ #1 mistake?
Positioning the subject in the centering of the frame and relying on a cheap tripod.
With what brand name equipment do you shoot?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon L-series lenses. I use a 16–35mm f/2.8L II, 24–105mm f/4L, 70–200mm f/4L IS and a 400mm f/5.6L.
Do you shoot video and create multimedia presentations?
No, just stills at the moment.
What is the most important lesson you learned during your career?
I think two of the most important lessons are to try many different things and go outside and shoot, regardless of the conditions. During my early days, I would have a shot in mind, but if conditions weren’t perfect, I wouldn't shoot. I think it is important to adapt to the conditions, and then the possibility exists to bring home an even better image than originally planned.
What advice would you share with aspiring professional photographers?
Keep at it if you love it. Any career in the arts is tough.
All Photographes © Chip Phillips