Philip Istomin describes his work as “anything but ordinary,” and I’m hard pressed to disagree. His unusual fashion photography is somewhat unsettling in the best possible way- you just can’t look away, mesmerized by the worlds he creates in his photos. Philip calls his work “Manicproject” and he takes a creative approach to every project, as well as his desire to produce something unique and out of the ordinary. That desire is what sets him apart from the other photographers in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. “I would describe my style as fashion-forward, intentional, cinematic, and conceptual,” he told me. “I’m influence by so many great photographers so I can’t say that I have a defining style, but many people have told me that they can always spot my work out of all the stuff out there, which is a great compliment.”
Philip has a history in design and visual arts, which he attributes as a major contributor to his success as a photographer. “I started to really go after photography after being laid off from my job as a designer at an advertising agency. I’ve been playing around with photography ever since taking classes ini college, but I really went after it full time in 2009.
“I do think of my craft as art, because I’m more interested in raising questions than I am in answering them. My goal with my photography is to hopefully make people pause for at least a few seconds in this information overload age. It’s hard to do, so it’s a big challenge. I’m not that interested in merely creating a beautiful image, I would rather put something out that shocks people or makes them wonder what the full story is. I want you to feel like you might be looking at a still from a film you’ve never seen.”
“I would love to make a good living as a photographer, doing the kind of work I aspire to do. It’s proving to be extremely tough in Utah, where I’m currently located. I would love to travel and do what I love, that’s the ultimate goal. And I would like to move people, and maybe even inspire a few up-and-coming photographers. Not everything I do is art of course, some of the stuff is work, but I always try to do the best work I can based on the parameters I’m given.”
So what makes the mind of Philip come up with his captivating images? “I think my biggest inspiration is film. Secondly is all the amazing work out there. I’m inspired by the past quite a bit. Some of the all-time great such as Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Irving Penn, Man Ray, to nave a few. My favorite photographer working currently is Steven Klein, he’s a huge inspiration.”
Philip’s Favorite Gear
“This is a sensitive subject because someone just broke into my studio and stole my lights, among other things… however:”
Philip’s Advice to Emerging Photographers
“Shoot shoot shoot. Practice makes perfect. You need experience. No one picks up a camera and succeeds right away. The time you put into it will also help define you as a photographer, your style.”
“Research photographers you look up to. Try to come close to creating what they’ve created. Intern with quality photographers. Take in as much information as possible. Watch video tutorials, read photo magazines.”
“The more well-rounded you are the better. You’ll never stop learning. Figure out what kind of photographer you want to be and go after it. Try to be unique, that’s the quality that always stands out to me. There are so many quality photographers out there and they do good work, but what percentage of it strikes me as interesting or impactful? Not a huge percentage.”
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