By Hayden Phipps


Archival Pigment print

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About Hayden Phipps

Hayden Phipps is a self taught photographer living and working between Amsterdam and Cape Town. He enjoys shooting documentary-style content with a strong narrative quality. Music and film have always had a big influence on his work. 
The series 'They Came from Above' is part social commentary and part 1950s sci-fi homage. Each photograph was captured in a single frame at various locations around the Western Cape, South Africa. By removing the support framework of existing everyday structures found on our horizons, I want people to stop and take note of the technology that now surrounds us. How much do we know about these objects on our horizon and if these structures were transported back in time would people perceive them as alien? Each photograph in the series is named after the place in which the close encounter occurred.
How did you get into photography? Are you self-trained or did you study?
I first discovered my interest in photography while working on my Masters degree in oceanography. We were expected to have a 35mm camera as part of our tool kit. In the field we took photographs of rock and sediment formations as well as underwater shots of in situ samples. It was with this camera that I first started to experiment with photography. I worked in my field as an oceanographer for a few years until I eventually made the transition into photography. My self taught career began when I found work as a travel photographer covering Southern and East Africa, setting up office in Livingston. Despite enjoying a relaxed Zambian lifestyle I soon become frustrated by the lack of scope in my work and headed for Cape Town where I built my career as a photographer. I now reside in Amsterdam.
Are your photographs shot in an instant or slowly composed?
My photography tends to be very considered. Most of my work is shot on medium format film or digital cameras and mostly always on a tripod. I like to pay special attention to lines, form and sense of space. While this kind of ‘old school' approach tends to create a more engaging image it is not always possible to shoot like this and sometimes a special photographic moment can be lost while you are setting up your tripod. I have recently been commissioned to a lot more documentary work which has taught me to shoot a lot quicker, as scenarios unfold, as opposed to setting up a shot.
Are you more drawn to interior or exterior spaces? Why?
I am drawn to both. I try to combine portraits with interior and exterior spaces to tell a complete story. Interior spaces can be very personal. For example the interior of someones house can tell you a lot about a person and add so much depth to a portrait. Exterior spaces give you a larger sense of place completing the story.
Have you had any major influences in developing your photographic style? What other artists (visual or otherwise) and photographers have inspired you?
I think the first photographer to ever influence me was Stephen Shore. Without noticing at the time of shooting, one of my first photographic projects Voortrekker Road was a total nod to his style and aesthetics. His ‘on the road’ style of shooting banal street scenes and objects across America fascinated me. His clean minimal approach and use of colour draws you into scenes that would normally go unnoticed. Since then I have tried to relax my approach but this considered style of shooting is always a reference point in the back of my mind.
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