First off Phil is an explorer.....At the age of forty he still climbs trees and rocks. Last year I caught him 20 metres up a tree, on a cliff, trying to get a good picture of some nesting birds. My life is full of such situations!
Phil grew up in Invercargill in the far south of the South Island of New Zealand and was taught about the natural world in great detail by his mother and grandfather. The eldest of 4 children they were always exploring, and with Stewart Island and Fiordland on the door step the possibilities were endless.
He left school early and went to work for a local water catchment Authority. This gave him the opportunity to be in the wilds of the region and see things that most of us do not. As a development of this he used photography to show his family the sights he saw. During this time (a period of ten years) he also traveled through Asia backpacking, recording those travel on film.
At the age of 27 he went to University studying at first to be an architect, but having been accepted to this, he decided instead to study physical geography and continue the career path he had started when he left school. It was at university I met him. One of my first memories is of Phil jumping from boulder to boulder in the middle of the ice melt from the Franz Joseph Glacier to get a photograph. Being the mean girl I was, I moved some ice so as to make it difficult for him to get back with out getting wet.... but he managed it! Phil I think is part mountain goat.
In his fourth year at University he went to the Antarctic (dry valleys) as part of a research team, he took a lot of photographs (mainly of sand actually, for his thesis), but also he took some photos of the sheer beauty of the place. I hope he puts up photographs of the dry valleys for you. Though I teased him a lot about penguins he saw not a single one, not even dead!! He did however take one (only one) photo of a baby seal for me.
After University he worked for Central Government in New Zealand before taking a position in Local Government, and after a break of some years in photography came back to it again, this time dealing with macros and slide sandwiching, which you see expressed in his surreal series.
Through it all his love of the natural world and the scientist in him has shown through, he takes photos not solely for the good composition, though of course that is a factor, but for the subject itself; to record what he sees and to enable others to see it also.
I hope you enjoy
this Gallery as much as I do and go away envying me in part, for I have
a lot of these pictures hanging on my walls, but more so because I live
with a man who can still find wonderment in the simple picture of a bee
on a flower, or a stick insect, or a praying mantis, and in doing so, give
me that wonderment as well.