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Posted on: 24/03/2016

ACCLAIMED PHOTOGRAPHER URGES PUPILS TO REACH FOR ANOTHER DIMENSION

Acclaimed London Photographer, Charlie Phillips, took centre stage at Morpeth School during an exhibition of his work on 17th March 2016, in the Portman Gallery, the school’s pop up art venue.

Known for his urban street photos that chronicle life in London, Mr Phillips told pupils about his colourful past and how he became a photographer.

He said: “I’m self taught and part of the old school, long before digital cameras came along.  I bought a book from Boots on how to take photos and learnt from my mistakes.”

Mr Phillips was born in Jamaica and brought by his family to the UK in 1956 when he lived in Notting Hill, West London.

He was given a Kodak Brownie by an American serviceman when he was 11 years old and started snapping friends and neighbours, mostly in the Caribbean community. He developed pictures in the bath at home, late at night, when his parents had gone to bed.

Often using black and white film, Mr Phillips took pictures of slum housing, children on the street, churchgoers, traders, funerals, and people just going about their every day life.

He also followed the celebrity trail and took pictures of stars including Omar Sharif, Mohammed Ali, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix.

His work has been published in magazines such as Stern, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, and Vogue; and some of his more iconic shots have been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Pupils asked Mr Phillips questions including his views on colour photography versus black and white; he said: “I personally think colour is sometimes overdone, it’s too perfect. For example, I bought a digital colour print of Medusa and it looked better than the original because of the use of colour.”

Answering a question about the modern day ‘selfie’ phenomena, Mr Phillips said:Photography has become accepted as an art form, but technology has taken over making it easy for anyone to take photographs of themselves. So it’s early days and we have to see how long the trend lasts, but I’m not convinced it’s an art form as yet.”

Giving advice to Morpeth pupils studying A Level and GCSE photography, Mr Phillips said: “If you want to take it further, take what you do to another dimension, be more creative, more artistic.”

Mr Phillip’s photographs were displayed as part of Colliding Worlds, an exhibition exploring the ability to express emotion and empathy through the medium of film and photography.
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