We had the good fortune of connecting with Phil Penman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Phil, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Everything! You have to be willing to take risks or you will never standout in the crowd.
In 1994 I visited New York City on holiday with my parents and fell in love with the place. I set myself a goal ! To be working as a professional photographer based in New York City. I spent the next 6 years doing everything I could to get here. In 2000 I flew to Los Angeles to start my new job as a photographer for a news agent and 6 months later I was setting up there New York bureau.
I’ve now been here working 20 years and still love everyday.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a photographer based in New York shooting primarily street and fine art photography but also commercial shoots.
You have to be willing to eat, drink, and sleep photography. We are surrounded by millions of people wanting to become photographers so the level of competition has never been so great.
You have to have a voice! What separates your work from the next? Is it your life experiences? Willing to go against the grain of what everyone else is shooting?
I’ve had to overcome many people putting up road blocks. All you do is just go round them. Never let one person think they hold the keys to your success.
The hardest part I’ve found is that it can be a very lonely world. I have had to separate myself from those just looking to capitalize on your success. If you can find great support you are very lucky.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
See where the tourists are and walk the opposite direction !
I’ve always been about the small diners so I venture out to New Jersey where they have some of the best.
In the city I like to walk under the FDR drive where you can view the Brooklyn Bridge and watch everyone doing there morning workouts.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife Karen and parents for supporting me. I was born dyslexic and used to attend special classes being left out of school and was told I would never really amount to much.
It was not until I discovered sport and gained confidence from winning, that I realized, if you work hard and have good supportive people around you , nothing is impossible!
I also have to thank Rene Perez at Leica New York for taking a gamble and giving me my first solo show in 2015 and things just better from there.
Pictures by Phil Penman Portrait image of me by Derek Fahsbender