10 Questions for Phill Taylor, A New Name in Fashion Photography

– By Val Bitici –

Photo by Phill Taylor

Less than one decade ago, Phill Taylor ditched his mundane office job to become a fashion and portrait photographer. Now, the Londoner enjoys the creative life of an artist and divides his time between having fun at work and having fun with friends. Admired by Olivia for his recent work, Phill Taylor tells oliviapalermo.com about his obsession with pictures, his admiration for Man Ray, and why he loves his job.

Val Bitici: When were you first drawn to photography, and what attracted you to the medium?
Phill Taylor: After watching a TV programme about fashion photography in 2003, I started to take it up in a serious way. At the time I had been working in a 9-5 office job and this other world seemed so exciting and glamorous that I decided to study photography at an evening course and it grew from there.

VB: What was your first camera and do you still have it?
PT: My first camera was my father’s old Russian copy of the Leica. As a kid I never had a clue what I was doing with it – cameras just seemed way to technical for me back then.

VB: What do you love most about your job?
PT: The fact that every day I spend my time working on something I am passionate about. You get to meet some of the most exciting and inspirational people in the world and share some amazing experiences.

VB: What kind of research do you do in the lead-up to a photo shoot? What are your most constant sources of inspiration?
PT: I buy pretty much every magazine I can get my hands on each month, I constantly collect any books that I feel may inspire me at some point and I trawl the internet for blogs and shoots for picture research too. I’m also very inspired by films and their characters. This constant research helps me when I am composing a photograph as I will start to see references of a character or an image appear in front of me.

VB: Do you prefer to shoot in a studio or on location? Why?
PT: I prefer to shoot on location as the setting usually tends to inspire me and my style of photography suits working in natural light too. However, being in the studio can also be inspiring for really isolating and capturing a personality or character.

VB: Please describe the vibe at your photo shoots. Do you thrive best in a lively atmosphere with loud music, or do you prefer quiet to concentrate?
PT: My shoots are always pretty chilled out, but I always use the music to set the vibe and have spent a lot of time constructing various playlists to help the model or sitter ease into the role they are playing. I enjoy the experience of the image creation just as much as the final outcome. I tend to work with a lot of the same team and so it is more like one big happy family.

VB: How often do you travel for work? While on assignment, what was your favorite place to visit and why?
PT: Usually once or twice a month I will have to travel around, but mainly I am London based. I really enjoyed travelling to Croatia last year to cover the Garden Festival. Great music, beautiful light and crystal clear sea all around. But to be honest, I love anywhere in the summertime.

VB: If you could invite one artist, dead or alive, to have lunch with you, who would it be and why?
PT: Man Ray. Not only have I always been interested by his work, but also his life was fascinating and so I’d like to just get drunk and listen to his stories…even if it was only lunch time!

VB: What do you do when you’re not making beautiful photographs?
PT: I live in an area in London that is full of cafes, vintage shops, parks, pubs, galleries etc and so I love to get out with friends and just enjoy this time of my life.

VB: 100 years from now, what will you want to be known for?
PT: Capturing a side to the people I photograph that makes them always want to return to that moment again.


Val Bitici is a writer, born and raised in manhattan. Since 2008, she has worked as part of Vanity Fair’s editorial team, sometimes contributing to vf.com. Val spends her free time blogging (miscv.tumblr.com), traveling, trying new restaurants, cooking, skiing, and dreaming about one day becoming an art collector. 

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About the Author

Val is a writer and editor born and based in New York City. She started her editorial career at Teen Vogue, then moved on to Vanity Fair and Travel+Leisure. She is currently the head of content at StyleKist, a new social commerce app that allows fashionistas to shop and make commissions from their photo and video feeds. You may follow her @diaryofval