“I guess this is my way of interpreting my very religious upbringing and turning it back on its head,” says photographer Philip Sinden of his as-yet-untitled new project that continues our three-part spotlight on NOWNESS’ longtime contributors. “I got in touch with life models, people who are used to being drawn, and instead photographed them on a large 5x4 film format in a studio over two months.” The images are his first dip into nude photography, and are juxtaposed here with baroque interior shots of cathedrals and mosques captured during his travels in Slovenia, Ljubljana and Istanbul. “All photographers use the same equipment to shoot, but we all come up with something different,” says the London-based Wallpaper*, Vogue and Telegraph Magazine contributor. “You interpret life by the way you see things. In some ways, I don’t think you have much control over that.”
Is religious iconography a recurring motif in your work?
Philip Sinden: I had a religious childhood, so it was something that was around all the time and I shot the nudes in a very loose way that maybe echoed some poses from paintings from Spanish artists. I started photographing interiors of churches with certain particular people in mind from the nude series to put them together.
Are there any greats you tend to reference?
PS: I did a series of priests so I was looking at El Greco a lot, Velasquez. I like abstract paintings like De Kooning, possibly a bit of Irving Penn. I really like street photographers at the moment like Mark Cohen. I think his loose way of photographing people on the street is really interesting, so that’s something I’ve been looking at a bit more recently.
What do you think of the instant imaging fostered by social media?
PS: I think it’s great. I’ve never been part of Facebook particularly but Instagram is interesting in the way it makes you look at things again. When you’re shooting photographs all the time, you have a way of working but to suddenly have the freedom to just take pictures of anything. I use a BlackBerry so I then interpreted it onto an iPad. In some ways it gives me time to think but maybe that’s cheating, I don’t know. I think it’s a great way of putting your own work out there as well, just getting instant feedback.