Perhaps better known to It’s Nice That readers as a portrait photographer – for his Ermine Street series and Portrait of Britain cover shot – Phil Sharp has been experimenting with landscape and narrative. His latest series, [ non]fictions depicts individuals within a London scene, each with their own story in the caption (which you can read here). Aiming to play with fact and fiction, the series appears – like much of his work – documentary-based, but is in fact concocted by Phil.
“It started off with me wanting to find a way to combine landscapes and portraiture,” the photographer explains. “I liked the idea of taking an interesting landscape, or topographic photograph, and seeing how the addition of a figure changed the way the viewer connected with it.”
His first experiments can be seen in earlier series The Human Landscape but Phil says he wanted more control, and to construct the images himself. So in [ non]fictions, every subject is an actor, who has devised a character for the portrait. After discussing these with the actors, Phil chose the location and collaborated with the subjects on creating the scene in which their character would appear.
The photographs are cinematic in composition and lighting, which Phil says adds to these questions of fact vs fiction, staged vs real, while their consistent framing brings cohesiveness across the different stories and settings.
Taken around London, the photographs capture a moment in each characters’ journey, and the series is intended to be viewed in sequence, with each subject connected to the ones before and after in some way. “It’s a sort of six degrees of separation idea, and a reminder that our behaviours affect people outside of our immediate circle.”
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