Artist Spotlight: Henry Phillips

Henry Phillips, Deputy Photo Editor of Gear Patrol, practices the self-described art of Product Journalism. From watches to cars to boots, he is under pressure to both help craft the scale direction and ideation of Gear Patrol’s images as well as turn around a never ending stream of things to photograph.

Starting with a degree in economics, Henry pivoted upon graduation and sent a small portfolio to Gear Patrol. With only three Speedlites and modifiers that came by way of a craft table, he captured products in a way that spoke to “the stories and worlds that encompass them.” Fighting the monotony of ecommerce imagery, Gear Patrol works with objects that have character and deserve to be artfully photographed. A “melting pot” with staff photographers Chase Pellerin and Chandler Bondurant, and ten total in the creative department, they tackle the challenge of creating diverse images that carry a cohesive look across web, social media, and print.

When Gear Patrol moved into their new modular, open office space, it came time for a lighting upgrade. Henry’s “bread and butter” became the Scoro WiFi pack with Pulso G heads. According to Henry, “there’s no way a pack like that can be bad.” In addition, he uses Siros L monolights for additional lighting in the studio or for the portability that they offer for field production. Typically he will stick to a reflector and grid set, with the P70 being the go to for studio work. On location he’ll go with 2’x3.3’ softboxes for complimenting daylight and on larger objects, like cars or bikes.

While much of his work finds a home on the internet, the Gear Patrol print publication is ramping up as well, moving from a biannual release to a quarterly schedule. All of this means that the image making process need to be streamlined, without sacrificing visual quality. A normal turnaround for images is one to two days before being uploaded to the web. This speed has not only allowed Henry to photograph a great many products over his tenure at Gear Patrol, but it has pushed his creativity. As he works within the visual identity of the publication, he also looks to find new ways to see the products we see everyday.

On the personal side, Henry searches for new stories to tell about familiar sights–finding shapes and lines that feel organic and fresh. Parallels can be made between both bodies of work, but his personal photography is more eclectic, featuring anything from football games to barbeque joints. Henry captured Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, the head coaches of Ohio State and the University of Michigan below. The crowd and players are mere smudges of scarlet and maize in the background as he eschews the traditional style of sports photography for something more intimate and artistic. Throughout his portfolio, both personal and for Gear Patrol, there is a strong desire to tell stories of people, places, and objects.

Recently, Henry has kept busy shooting for this year’s GP100, Gear Patrol’s annual list of the hundred best products. For that and more from Gear Patrol head to gearpatrol.com. More of Henry’s photography can be found on his website: henryphillips.co. Follow him on instagram @henrysp.