Philip Rhys Matthews recently won the Printspace fashion photography competition. A beautiful picture deserving recognition. When we checked out his portfolio, we we’re surprised: his winning photo Locomotive (shown above) is obviously striking, also in it’s vibrant colors. But much of his portfolio is black & white and uses muted tones. We became curious about this, and asked Philip about this distinction: ‘My portfolio has a rather muted colour palette and it wasn’t really something I noticed until I came to lay everything out together. Having previously trained as an illustrator, specializing in children’s book illustration, my transition to photography and my selection of more serious subject matter is clearly reflected in my colour choices. As I continue to develop my work I have noticed more colour creeping back.’
About the winning photo itself Philip comments: ‘The colour selection for my photograph ‘Locomotive’ came mainly from my concept. The colour variation within the series ‘Fiscal Cure/Fiscal Cancer” that this image comes from, changes from very muted tones to blasts of colour. To understand the colours used one must look at the story behind the image.’
‘The series explores the history of the world economy, the effects of globalization and looks to the future of global growth with China and India as the new economic superpowers who will determine the strength and velocity of the world economy for future decades to come. With this image I was trying to convey to future economies through the dynamic action of the model and dress. The silk screens in the background have been used throughout this series and vary from a drab decaying green colour to a more opulent gold. The fabric selection for the dress was essential in the success of the image with many colour combinations being tested and dismissed. I wanted to use rich Indian and Chinese silks as the main body of the dress so we made the dress ourselves incorporating smaller western influences like Wall Street trading jackets which are just visible in blue and red and the spurs on the shoulder. I sourced a beautiful turquoise and gold Chinese silk that contrasted beautifully with the red sari. The models hair also gives another dimension to this image. It is the models own hair and we decided to curl and volumise it to really make a colour statement. We shot with blue colour gels just to tone down the gold element and retain the cool tones of the silk and make the red less harsh and after many takes, and a very powerful wind machine, we managed to get a perfect shot.’
Below are ‘Critical Mass’, ‘5×4’ and ‘Into the Ether’ the latter two obviously being part of Philip’s more muted palette, which expresses his personal preferance more.