Bak 17 Is Online!
'Face', 17th issue of Bak Magazine, is now online! Sit back, relax and enjoy!


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Interviews in Bak | 11
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Phillip Toledano
Photographer { }
Phillip Toledano

Your passion for photography began to raise when you were a child. You were only 11 years old when you got your first camera. What built the strong connection between you and photography? Was there a person who showed the way?

My father was a painter, and being a contrarian, I suppose that i was instinctively drawn to something that was diametrically opposite to painting-photography... If anyone showed me the way, I suppose you could say it was a book of photography by Bill Brandt, in my father's library... I started looking at it because it had pictures of naked ladies, and then ended up being fascinated by HOW he took photographs..

You were born in London and now, you live and work in New York. We know that artists look around with different eyes. As a talented and respected photographer, how do you compare these two cities?

Hmm... I have to say, I never really lived in London as a photographer, so it's impossible for me to compare. I can say that I've never felt very influenced by cities. I'm more influenced by the country as a whole...

You say that "A photograph should be like an unfinished sentence". What a meaningful statement. You prefer giving clues, not the whole meaning and you let the viewers make their own comments. To help us knowing you better, please imagine that there is a country named "Philip Toledano" and tell us what it would look like?

It would be a country with thick, dark forests that came right up to the coastline. Scattered throughout these forests would be dozens of tribes, speaking strange languages, and practicing strange, beautiful customs. Some would be friendly, others, not so much.

We are all working for clients. When we read the brief, we have that first impression. Sometimes we say "Great! This is just for me" and sometimes "Oh my god, it's a terrible idea!". Which one do you say most and for what kind of projects do you say the second?

Almost everything I shoot for magazines are my own ideas, so I'm lucky enough not to say 'that's a terrible idea' so often. And if you're being paid a lot of money, it's much easier to live with terrible ideas!

We can say that digital photography hasn't reached the quality and the organic structure of the film photography. Yet, it is a fact that it has another great advantages. What do you think about that? Do you often take the advantages of the digital photography? Which camera do you prefer to use generally?

I shoot digital for almost everything these days, except for a few personal projects, where i still use film. Digital is a different process - there's less chance - you can check and re-check yourself, whereas with film, it's like diving off a cliff, and hopefully you'll avoid the rocks and land in the sea with a beautiful dive... I've never paid much attention to technical stuff, to be honest... It's the photo that counts.

Imagine that you have the chance to go back to your 20s with what you have lived until today, the experiences that you acquired and the accumulation of your present knowledge. You are a student and you know what will happen years later. What would you pay attention to while shaping your life, again?

I was just talking about that with a cab driver yesterday! I would start being a photographer sooner! I've been a photographer for 5 years and I feel as though I have a lot of catching up to do.

What kind of movies do you like and which film directors do you find closer to yourself in terms of visual comprehension?

Wim Wenders, Tim Burton, Terrence Malick, Guillermo Del Toro... I like films that show me something new, beautiful, strange and shocking.

Which photographers and artists in the art history inspired you most?

Bill Brandt, Guy Bourdin, Edward Hopper, De Chirico, Lucien Freud, Vermeer, Henri Rousseau.

Do you have some clues you can share with us, about your second book project, "United States of Entertainment"?

Actually, I have a new book coming out next September, before "United States of Entertainment"... It's called "Phonesex" and it's portraits of phonesex operators.

"With film, it's like diving off a cliff, and hopefully you'll avoid the rocks and land in the sea with a beautiful dive."

- Phillip Toledano / Bak 11
  • Great interview, really good questions ;)

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