The portraits that I’m doing at the moment are simply a recording of that person, I don’t pretend they are anything else. When I talk to someone I don’t do it from on top of a step ladder, or sitting on the ground looking up at them and I don’t stand 50 feet away and converse using a pair of binoculars and a megaphone. When I talk to someone I stand face to face and look them in the eyes. And this is how I like to compose my portraits – with the subject in the middle of the frame. This simplistic approach to composition does irritate people though…

The rule of thirds, or the golden section,  was first written down as a guide for painters in the late 1700’s, probably around the same time that the law against whistling on a Sunday came in, so I tend to ignore it.

When I look at something interesting, I look at it head-on, not out of the corner of my eye.

All images made using a Mamiya 7II, 80mm and Fuji Pro 400H film


  1. Phil, I hope people aren’t having a go at you. Your work is ace and if you want to ignore the rule of thirds then do so. Who needs rules anyway (apart from the ones that tell not to be nasty to people)
    I’ve long admired your work as you know.
    These straight on portraits are excellent and yes, Kirinjirafa, the perspective is worth loving. You are right!


  2. You don’t need defend yourself. You have a style that people now recognise and admire you for.
    It might look like you just get the subject to stand face on to the camera which some may think looks easier than posing people. But posed photos are exactly that. Too posed. Your photos show us a natural facial expression which the viewer can connect with and a relevant back ground which sets context.

    20% of most portrait photography is technical the rest is people skills, which I don’t know if you have as you can rub people up the wrong way 🙂 but you must be doing something right as your subjects look at ease rather than awkard.

    If you were going to go down the easy route you would be 100% in a studio with a white backdrop with exactly the same lighting and camera setting each time with a set stock of poses and churn out same old same old.

    Most important of all is having a really good camera. Lol sorry I mean actually DOING it. Most critics might think they can do it better but the fact is they AREN’T.

    Being as achievent as you are in such a small place is great. It must be hard finding willing subjects, interesting ideas, locations and most of all anyone who it willing to actually hand over any money.

    Ignore the crabs and keep up the good work!


  3. Very nice photographs. Real skill to get people to pose and you’ve obviously got the talent and ability to get them to relax. Great sense of personality in each of the photographs.


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