We had the good fortune of connecting with the fine art photographer Phillip Silverstein and we’ve shared our conversation below. Raised in South Carolina, Silverstein moved to Los Angeles where he quickly developed a passion for narration using his camera lens.
Hi Phillip, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Well, I wouldn’t have a career or half of the photos that I have without taking risks. Flying in a helicopter, sneaking on top of 60 story buildings, speeding to make sunset in time are all parts of this job. Without chasing magic, you’ll never find it. Risks have been a part of this since the start. I took a risk when I quit my full time job, I took many risks traveling to 3rd world countries, I’ve risked losing my luggage for a photo (tossing it amidst a 600 stair climb to make sunset on time while in Japan.) I’ve been detained in Morocco for illegally flying a drone, I was headed to Dubai the following week and was focused on getting my UAE drone permit, completely missing the fact that drones were also illegal in Morocco. My dream was to get a shot of tangier from the rock of Gibraltar in Spain, when I was unable my next thought was to shoot back toward the rock from across the sea in Tangier. As soon as we docked and I cleared customs, before getting to the taxi, I flew up the drone for 5 minutes and got my multi – continent photo! Shortly after the police knocked on the taxi window, and confiscated my drone while also making me cancel my flight out to Italy, forcing me to return to Spain via the boat if I wanted to keep my $1,500 drone. Anyways, that day marked the second time in my life I was in 4 countries. I left Tangier on the boat at 4am, made my flight from Spain to Lisbon, toured around Lisbon for an hour on my 2 hour layover, and then went to Milan later that night. Anyways, I guess you could the art of making photos is risky business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The business of photography is certainly an interesting one! It’s unlocked the world in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and helped introduce me to some of the most successful athletes, models, and served as my entry way into multiple events and parties that I probably wouldn’t have had the invite otherwise. Selling artwork has always been my main focus. I love capturing moments that are indescribable and memorializing them into fine art pieces. These larger than life images are certainly meant to be enjoyed large themselves, not from a phone screen. Being repped by galleries, having solo art shows, selling at art fairs, are all things that i’ve been fortunate enough do with my work within a few years. Being featured in Maxim Magazine and working with celebrities and brands like Ritz Carlton and Mandarin Oriental all over the world, have been surreal at times for a kid from small town South Carolina, but amazing things happen when you put your best foot forward toward your goals with good intentions and a particular skill set. Along the way I have also picked up my FAA drone pilots license and do commercial and luxury real estate work with the drone. So the business of photography is multi-faceted, and each day is completely different. It’s a blessing to be able to tell a story with a camera click, and live out everyday as I choose. For my newest photography business outlet, I have partnered with Training Loft off of Melrose Ave in West Hollywood and am currently showcasing a B+W artwork collection in their new gym! Stop by for a workout and some views!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Los Angeles is quite the place to visit! There is so much to do and see that it can be overwhelming to try to fit it all in! You don’t want to move around too much in a day, otherwise, you will waste time in traffic! So, I always recommend people to do things by neighborhood and parts of time to maximize the day! I’ll start with the westside and move inward as Venice was the first neighborhood that I lived in when I first moved to town!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I always shoutout to my friend Tobias for letting me borrow his camera (for 3 years) haha! He’s been mentioned in a lot of my articles, but thank you for believing in me man! Every day I thank my parents for showing me unconditional love and support through my various career and lifestyle changes. When I was an athlete, they supported it and drove me to different camps so I could get a scholarship, when I was a financial advisor, they were happy I’d found a job, and when I said I was going to quit that job to take pictures for a living, they were worried, but they were accepting. They gave me good feedback on my photos and that was enough to help me believe in my vision 100%. Last year after one year in LA, I reconnected with an old friend who I knew through my football days, and that day would change my life in LA forever. (Big) Joe is originally from LA and just moved back after finishing up a 3 year NFL career and some time in New York. We reconnected one summer day and it was almost the scene out of step brothers where they realize they just became best friends. He is an aspiring actor and has been an amazing friend since we reconnected, he’s introduced me to celebrities and people in the industry to help move me further. He is an incredibly outgoing person, which has rubbed off on me, amplifying my personality. He also happens to be the only person in my life that is taller than me being 6ft 5. So, at 6ft 8, I now have an awesome friend to look up to. His support in my creative journey has definitely helped me network around Los Angeles and he surely deserves a shoutout. Check him out on instagram @bigjoe, you won’t be disappointed! Sometimes, all we need is a little push, or a little acceptance, to get us going or keep us moving in a new venture and there are tons of people that I could thank along the way! Thankful for everyone that has been a part of my journey.