JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you have for breakfast today?
PHILLIP REED: Some oats and a cup of tea. Breakfast is the one thing I have difficulty adjusting to in China.
JC: Name 2 emerging photographers inspiring you at the moment?
PR: I saw some work from a photographer called Antonio Bolfo recently; he did a project on the New York Police Department. I found that inspiring. I also really liked Ann Woo’s sunset series when I came across her website the other day, that’s an interesting subject to approach afresh.
JC: So you’re in China? What is this project all about?
PR: I’ve come over to visit my brother who lives and works here. We are twins and have always shared similar interests; having just finished my degree last summer I thought it would be a good opportunity to come over and spend a bit more time here. Through my work I’ve always been interested in exploring the effects of environment upon the experience of the individual, I’ve also always been fascinated by cities.
It’s a very different feel to the last time I was here, which was for the Olympics in 2008. Perhaps it’s a more sobering experience, It’s a lot like living in a giant construction site, nothings static like it is in London, there’s an incredible churning energy about the place, It’s what amazes me about China. The project’s slowly starting to take shape; I like not having too clear an idea of the final result just yet.
JC: You must have some interesting stories from the road? Care to tell us a tall tale?
PR: Chinese New Year on the streets of Qingdao is probably as extreme an environment I’ve ever been in with a camera. It lasted 2 weeks; I’ve never seen anything like it, I did a lot of dodging fireworks in that time. They are literally everywhere, bouncing off buildings, on the sides of roads, in and around the housing estates. It’s an incredible sight. If you fly over China during that time you get an amazing view of the entire country lit up by fireworks. It’s amazing.
JC: What has 2011 got in store for you?
PR: A busy but exciting year ahead. I have to finish off this project before heading back to London, then more shooting and editing for in between, Anthony’s now moved to Shanghai so that should offer a new dynamic to the project. I have an exhibition penciled in for July in Hastings at the project space of the new Jerwood Gallery, then more freelancing and assisting to do, lots to look forward to.
JC: How tall are you?
PR: 5 11.
JC: How have you found the ‘real world’ so far? Has it been tricky juggling work with personal projects?
PR: It is tough, sometimes I feel tempted to pursue a more stable or structured career, but I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I’m still building my portfolio, As long as I’m pushing my work in new directions and learning, I’m happy.
JC: Any pearls of wisdom to recent photography graduates?
PR: Keep going, I think you constantly learn through being productive, different people work in different ways but always do work that you find interesting and that engages you. I think the ‘real world’ is a hostile place for any genuinely engaging, or creative thinking, don’t compromise or neglect your own work, keep going.
JC: Other thoughts?
PR: Digital is not evil.