When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer, and did you always want to be a photojournalist?
I wasn’t formally trained in photography, I studied Graphic Design and worked as a print and web designer in Toronto. It wasn’t until after college when I decided to teach myself photography, by experimenting with the different genres and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Through trial and error, I found that documentary photography just felt right to me.
I was working on an ongoing personal project about US military support personnel in Southern Afghanistan, when I found out about Mortuary Affairs. I wanted to know more about the unit and the soldiers who volunteer for such a sad but honorable occupation. It took me almost a month to get permission through the various of chains of command, but I was eventually given access, albeit with limitations to this specialized unit that live and work in a secluded area of Kandahar Airfield.
What keeps you motivated?
To work on long-term projects that interest me and the chance to temporarily explore the lives of my subjects.
Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?
Well, I think I’m still relatively new at this, but from what I’ve learned so far, I think it’s important to keep working on personal projects, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new approaches with your work, surround yourself with like-minded people who share the same enthusiasm for photography, be persistent and trust your intuition.
(Philip is based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. See more of his work, here)