Morgan Philips is an American photographer from Birmingham, Alabama, who skillfully captures a number of unique landscapes and subjects through his lens. His photography brings both awe-inspiring vistas and portraiture to the world of commercial photography.
Q: Morgan, please tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I am a Seattle based photographer that specializes in adventure lifestyle, as well as travel and commercial photography.
Q: What do you find inspires you in your work?
A: I think it is important to find inspiration in all mediums of creativity. Whether it is a well-filmed movie or an inspirational song, I try to find some form of inspiration. I love seeing creativity in all forms.
Q: Your photos often capture a great sense of adventure and wanderlust. What is your approach to effectively incorporating these themes in your photos?
A: Capturing these themes in my photos comes quite naturally for me because it is basically the life I like to live. Getting outside and exploring the world is one of my favorite things to do. I think the challenge comes when you are working with a brand and need to convey adventure and wanderlust, while telling a brand’s story in an inspiring way.
Q: Are there any specific moments or experiences that you feel helped shape your photography?
A: There are so many moments that have shaped my photography. The experience that comes to mind is my five month move to Montana. I was working an office job in Los Angeles, and a close friend of mine said we should move to Montana for the winter. Once we got there, we realized that we moved to an empty town 40 miles away from the nearest gas station. This experience allowed me to buckle down and work on my brand. After five months, I was able to use photography as my full-time job. I’ll never forget it!
Q: How does your approach change when capturing landscapes versus wildlife or people?
A: My approach to different genres of photography is completely distinct. When capturing a landscape, my goal is to inspire people to get outside and explore the world around them. When capturing people, I want to tell a story. It might not be a spelled out story, but I like the audience to tell a story about the image.
Q: Most of your photographs capture distant landscapes from elevated vantage points, while this one (pictured above) feels much more surreal. Could you tell us more about this shoot, and what inspired you to click the shutter at that moment?
A: This is one of my favorite photos I have taken, actually. The first iteration of this photo happened 10+ years ago in Los Angeles, and it never felt right or complete. Fast forward six years, I was on a shoot with Rachel Noe next to a river, and I saw an opportunity to capture it how I had always envisioned. She was a trooper, there were dead fish everywhere. I would not have blamed her if she had said no, but she hopped in the water. It worked out perfectly.
Q: Looking at other visual mediums like film and television, are there any examples of cinematography that you feel an appreciation for or have an aesthetic you like to incorporate into your photography?
A: Like I was touching on in a previous question, there are so many places to find inspiration. I love movies and television shows with massive scenes. Movies like Dunkirk are filmed in such an incredible way. The Revenant is always one that is incredible to watch because of how it was filmed in natural light. One of my favorite scenes on TV was the battle scene in Game of Thrones. The lights going out as the White Walkers swarmed Jon Snow’s army was breathtaking. I can’t say I incorporate all of these scenes into my photography, but they definitely help my imagination when I work.
Q: Do you have a preferred camera and lens combo when working? If so, why?
A: I definitely use a lot of different lenses in my commercial work, but I always find myself going back to the Canon EOS R and my 15-35mm RF. I love the way that combo looks. I like wide photos because they tell the full story of the scene.
Q: As someone who has successfully licensed a number of their photos with major companies like Amazon, Canon, and Lincoln. What advice would you give to those just starting out in commercial photography?
A: I have been very lucky with my career. I have had some great clients who I have trusted me to capture some images for them. I have been lucky with my social media presence and the audience I have built, which helps land some of the bigger clients. My biggest advice is to just keep shooting, take a lot of photos. I took so many bad photos before I started getting hired. Also, I recommend figuring out the type of photography that you want to shoot. Then go out and shoot that.
Q: Are there any photographers you admire and that you would like to bring visibility to?
A: There are so many talented photographers out there. I will share their Instagram handles. For landscape, I love @Masonneufeld, @Jubbish, and @MasonStrehl. For Portraits, I love @cheyennesbeverley, @LNayNay (Lauren Naylor on 500px), and @Vuhlandes. For unique/commercial, I love @edfreemanphoto, @brush, and @j.robert.selg
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