That was 2016…


My yearly review got a bit delayed this year, I’ve had it ready to go for about three weeks, but the included images have changed on an almost daily basis. For the first time, all the images were shot on film – I’ve returned to using analogue, almost exclusively, for all of my personal work. I’m currently working on the final project for a Master’s degree in photojournalism and documentary photography, so I’ve shot very little in the way of commercial work, however, even the small amount I have done has been made using film.
The early part of 2016 was pretty hectic – I spent the New Year collating the images from my three visits to the migrant camps of northern France; the photo-essay is only just gaining interest a year later, now that The Jungle, the largest of the camps, has been closed.
The Spring saw me in Tokyo for two weeks with my daughter, Jessica, a trip we will never forget and hope to repeat soon. After Japan, I was home for a day and then went on a 6500 mile, two-week working road trip around Scandinavia with two good friends, and fellow photographers, John Coldwell and Mark Hillyer.
The rest of the year I spent erecting marquees, I moved into and out of a flat and met my new partner, the very lovely Hannah. Hannah, as well as being my biggest fan and harshest critic, also models for me.
I’ve been accused of ‘losing my way’, artistically, of late, but I have to disagree – you can only lose your way if you don’t know where you’re going, and I know where I’m going. However, this year I am going back to shooting the types of straight, simple portraits, of men and women, that most people are used to.

As usual, the images here aren’t necessarily the most successful photographs I’ve taken in the last year; they’re simply my personal favourites. So here they are, in no particular order.

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  1. MaryAlman78

    I certainly wouldn’t say you ‘lost your way’ – I think your work took a direction that a few people didn’t approve of, but your style and motif never changed – 99% of the time I can tell it’s a Phil Kneen before I even see the name. There aren’t many photographers in the world that have that ability, you know? I’m seeing great things for you in 2017, Phil – keep on doing what you do X


  2. Such a striking array of images. You’ve included many of my favourites in this post. The shot of the lace curtain on the left and figure on the right is one I’ve never seen before.

    I have a ‘portrait’ question for you (even though I’ve never had the opportunity to try any portrait photography – well, maybe once). How do you know how much of the person’s forehead/hair region to include in the frame on some of your portraits. Is it just experience and creative vision or is there a way to learn this. Is it meant to draw the viewer’s eye to a certain area of the face? Take the man with the check shirt and the red-head with the clown make-up for example. Or is the cropped head part of the composition and balanced within the frame by the rest of the figure/foreground? (note: this is a serious question, not a criticism in any way).


  3. Great set of photographs Phil. While I would not accuse you of losing your way, I am happy to read that you will be doing more of what you call “simple” portraits. I would argue that they are not simple at all. Your portraits drag the souls out of your subjects and that is anything but simple. I encourage my students to look at your work because you prove that composition is secondary to depth, especially with portraits. It’s not that your compositions are not good, on the contrary they are excellent. because they become the platform to make your subjects become real. The fact that you are shooting film exclusively is also great to hear too, although I did love your iPhone photographs. Have a very Happy New Year.


  4. HannahY

    I, for one, are quite glad you ‘lost your way’ this year…😊 Yes you may not have been able to do many portrait shoots that everyone loves to see from you, but, you got to do a different style of photography that you love shooting and I think that has been great for you! You’ve had a lot of change this year, which can’t be helped, but they say there’s no growth without change 😊 Just remember to keep doing what you love and what you’re passionate about. I’m proud of you xx


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