Emma Phillips, Melbourne-based photographer.

Hello Emma Phillips, how are you?

I’m very well thank you.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m a photographer based in Melbourne, Australia.

What is your experience and approach to photography?

I suppose my approach to photography is very careful. Often I find myself overwhelmed by images, inundated. Everywhere you look sometimes there are images, Instagram, Facebook, books, television. Just walking down the street there are images everywhere, so I try to be careful about what sort of images I create and put out into the world. I think a lot about photography and reproduction and what the point of it all is. I think photography is another language. I studied commercial photography at RMIT University in Melbourne and then worked for two years in New York at commercial studios. I didn’t like working in New York. I learnt a lot but it was a different life, one I wasn’t so much interested in. So I moved back to Melbourne and now I work in a bookstore a few days a week and spend the rest of my time at my studio.

Can you tell us more about your series SALT? What’s the story behind it?

I shot SALT in a few hours at a site just off the Nullabor Plain in Western Australia. I wanted to take some landscape photographs of industry in Australia but was finding it difficult doing day trips from Melbourne. So I packed up my things, got in my car and drove north. I drove 10, 000 kilometres and slept in a swag for two months. It was a wonderful trip. On the way home by chance I came across the salt refinery. As soon as I entered the site I could see the project in its entirety. When I got back to Melbourne I spent a few months scanning and working on the negatives and I produced a dummy book. I turned twenty-one and then moved to New York. Two years later when I was back in Melbourne I thought it was about time that I finish the series, from the beginning I’d wanted to produce a number of books and have an exhibition. The book was launched at the exhibition last November at Edmund Pearce Gallery. I made 500 copies and they are almost sold out. It’s available to buy here.

Who influence you in terms of image’s aesthetic?

I like Gerhard Richter a lot. I think his photographs with paint smeared on them are incredibly beautiful and playful. I also admire Kiyoshi Suzuki and Masao Yamamoto, these are two photographers that reach into your heart and gently touch your soul. From Europe at the moment I like photographs by Esther Teichmann and Katja Mater. I also like to read Robert Adams’ books about photography, he has some really insightful views on images.

We read that you are on a series with The Impossible Project?

I’ve been shooting a series of 8×10″ landscape images on Polaroid generously supplied by The Impossible Project. I hope to create a book with the final photographs.

Did you plan a new personal series?

At the moment I’m working on a few things, all still in early stages.

Which books are on your bedside table?

I’m reading The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.

The last word…

Thanks for having me!


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Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 08.14

Photographs ©Emma Phillips.
Portrait ©Jordan Robertson.