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philiphunton

Mind The Lens: Interview with Picfair Photographer, Philip Hunton

21 October 2021

Posted by Picfair

Welcome to Mind The Lens, our mental-health-focused month in partnership with The Photography Movement where we're providing a range of supporting content as well as £20,000 in grants to projects within mental health and photography. To find out more about Mind The Lens, visit our blog post or application page.


"Professional Commercial & Product photographer with a passion for all types of photography based in Newcastle upon Tyne, for my professional work check out www.philiphunton.co.uk. 10% of all profits from gallery sales will go to Changing Minds with Pickup a Penny, helping children and their families with pioneering therapies to support mental health."

How did you get into photography?

"I studied graphic design at college and as part of that, I decided that if I was going to be asked to art direct a design I should understand the fundamentals of all elements involved. Photography is so important to design that my parents bought me a basic Canon Film SLR and one of my lecturers spent his spare time teaching me the basics, so when I come to brief photographers I would have a basic understanding of what I was asking of them. 

After several years as a designer, a boss noticed my photographs and asked me to do the images for their brochures and marketing, I was shooting the Nike Headquarters in Sunderland as my first professional shoot. I then opened a studio of my own with a business partner and produced images for packaging etc.

When I left that business I decided to try my hand at professional photography. I loved making images that achieved whatever results that were intended, whether that was to please the eye, record something or present a person or product. I opened my own studio in 2007 with one camera, two lights, and a passion for images both personally and professionally and, within a short time, I was shooting for magazines, developers, and a few big brands. 

During the development of my professional studio, I continued to shoot personally and one side fed the other. I love learning, not only about photography but about the things, people, and properties I was photographing. 

Today, my passion continues with learning new techniques, photographing wildlife, and almost anything that catches my eye."

https://gallery.philiphunton.co.uk/

How has photography helped your mental health?

"Throughout the development of my business, I have continued to shoot for fun. My mental health has been helped immensely by photography, not only seeing the final images but also during the process of making the pictures. 

I find photographing people and wildlife so relaxing, I escape the stresses of life and focus purely on what I'm doing in that moment. Street photography is great; you get to talk to people you may never normally talk to and on the wildlife side, You can spend hours just watching the natural world around you and that really helps clear your mind

There is also the exercise side - the best piece of kit a photographer can have is comfortable shoes. I often walk for miles to get images, where that's a cityscape, wildlife or just walking around my city centre watching others go about their lives."

https://gallery.philiphunton.co.uk/

Which photo means the most to your mental health?

"My mental health journey continues and is a long one. I suppose the one image that made me realise I may have a future in photography is the one of the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, taken in 2001 just 3 days after it was installed. 

I took this on a Fuji 3 megapixel camera that I had traded my SLR in for as I couldn't afford film and the processing but wanted to make images. This picture was my first double-page spread in a magazine and won an award. It was the first image that people wanted to buy as a print and one gentleman even bought the print and liked the abstract shape I had chosen so much he used it as a basis for the production of a harp. 

I struggle with confidence and this image gave me enough confidence to try to expand my photographic abilities. I still look at it now when I feel down and it still reminds me I can continue to improve. Photography is continuous learning and my motto has always been 'The day I think I know everything about photography, is the day after I should have quit.'"

https://gallery.philiphunton.co.uk/

What's your top tip for others looking to improve their mental health?

"I'm not sure I have a tip. I find it's a real rollercoaster but I do find that getting out there with the camera can really contribute to a more positive mental state

I find going to photograph my city, the surrounding landscape, or wildlife and seeing what happens is really exciting, I plan so much for my commercial photography that contrasting it with a "go out and see what you see" approach to personal photography really helps my mental state and often the things you see and people you meet by doing this really help a positive mental state."

Visit Philip's Picfair Store


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