Spencer Murphy Blog

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Mark Strong outtake from the portrait shoot in today’s Telegraph Magazine.
Mar 29

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Mark Strong outtake from the portrait shoot in today’s Telegraph Magazine.

Mark Strong portrait for Telegraph Magazine. Out today.
Mar 29

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Mark Strong portrait for Telegraph Magazine. Out today.

From way back in the archive…Tap Dancer, San Francisco, 2001
Mar 28

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From way back in the archive…Tap Dancer, San Francisco, 2001

Mar 28

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Last few bits before the studio move. Sad to see the polaroid wall come down. End of an era.

Feb 07

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Feb 04

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Channel 4 Jockeys Shortlisted For The Campaign Section Of Sony World Photography Awards 2014

The series of jump jockeys shot for Channel 4’s Original Extreme Sport campaign has been shortlisted in the Campaign section of The Sony World Photography Awards. The series was created in collaboration with 4Creative and Art Directed by Alice Tonge to promote Channel 4 Racing. Winner’s will be announced on the 30th April and the exhibition will then go on show at Somerset House.

http://worldphoto.org/news-and-events/wpo-news/2014-sony-world-photography-awards-shortlist-announced

Feb 03

“Quote”

“"I will be dying and so will you, and so will everyone here. That’s what I want to explore. We’re all hurtling towards death, yet here we are for the moment, alive. Each of us knowing we’re going to die, each of us secretly believing we won’t"
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Caden Cotard in Synecdoche, New York - RIP, a true great and a true loss.”

Feb 03

Hyperlink

Richard Dillane
Taken from a very enjoyable portrait session with actor, Richard Dillane at the end of last year.
Jan 14

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Richard Dillane

Taken from a very enjoyable portrait session with actor, Richard Dillane at the end of last year.

Thanks to Andy Lopo for spotting this poster that’s currently up on the underground. Last few weeks to catch the image at The National Portrait Gallery.
Jan 14

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Thanks to Andy Lopo for spotting this poster that’s currently up on the underground. Last few weeks to catch the image at The National Portrait Gallery.

Creative Review Photo Annual Best In Book
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks… more good news last night when I was awarded Best In Book at The Creative Review Photo Annual launch for my series This Kind Of Poverty. To make it all the more special, the portrait of Amira was chosen as one of three front covers of this month’s issue. The project was shot for Save The Children to coincide with their UK Poverty campaign and can be seen on my site.
Nov 22

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Creative Review Photo Annual Best In Book

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks… more good news last night when I was awarded Best In Book at The Creative Review Photo Annual launch for my series This Kind Of Poverty. To make it all the more special, the portrait of Amira was chosen as one of three front covers of this month’s issue. The project was shot for Save The Children to coincide with their UK Poverty campaign and can be seen on my site.


Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013
A bit late of the presses but…My portrait of Katie Walsh was awarded first prize at The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013. It has been overwhelming to be given this recognition espescially after coming third in last year’s prize and it’s impossible to put into words quite how much it means. The image will be on show at the NPG, along with the other 60 images that were selected for exhibition, until the 9th of February 2014.
Nov 21

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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013

A bit late of the presses but…My portrait of Katie Walsh was awarded first prize at The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013. It has been overwhelming to be given this recognition espescially after coming third in last year’s prize and it’s impossible to put into words quite how much it means. The image will be on show at the NPG, along with the other 60 images that were selected for exhibition, until the 9th of February 2014.

Congratulations to AP McCoy for 4,000 wins
Yesterday Tony ‘AP’ McCoy made it to 4,000 wins. I had the pleasure of taking his portrait earlier this year for Channel 4 Racing. It is another massive accolade for the Champ. Congratulations.
Nov 08

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Congratulations to AP McCoy for 4,000 wins

Yesterday Tony ‘AP’ McCoy made it to 4,000 wins. I had the pleasure of taking his portrait earlier this year for Channel 4 Racing. It is another massive accolade for the Champ. Congratulations.

On the cover of BJP
Massively flattered to have my portrait of Katie Walsh grace the cover of this month’s British Journal Of Photography - Portrait Issue.
Nov 08

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On the cover of BJP

Massively flattered to have my portrait of Katie Walsh grace the cover of this month’s British Journal Of Photography - Portrait Issue.

Huck - Photo Special
Thanks to everyone at Huck for including me in their current photo issue. And a big thanks to Cyrus Shahrad for such a lovely introduction:
One morning this summer I woke at 4am in the spare room of Spencer Murphy’s north London flat. I dressed quickly in the dark, creeping into the kitchen to find Spencer sipping coffee, up an hour already. We quietly loaded bags of camera equipment into the back of his car – a process always tinged with excitement – and drove through sleeping streets to Hampstead, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on the stereo. As we passed the Spaniards Inn I told Spencer about the area’s connection with Dracula – how the author had tragic Lucy Westenra transformed into a vampire, stalking the hills for unfortunate children to drag back to her tomb. Once we’d parked and crossed on to the Heath, however, we walked in silence. The grass was wet underfoot, and the first flush of the new day was felt as much as seen in the world that unfolded around us.

We were there to shoot the London skyline at dawn for the cover of a record I was working on. I’ve been lucky enough to have Spencer provide photographs for all my releases – from my debut EP (an abandoned Cornish airfield) to my second album (the prismatic interior of a derelict German warehouse). I’m aware of what a privilege this is: linking my music with such powerful images has given my output the sort of strong visual identity that others spend a fortune on. But the rewards go deeper: because I’ve known Spencer for so long, and because I know that our art comes from the same place – an attempt to connect with the sublime hidden behind the everyday, to make sense of a finite life in an infinite universe – I feel I’m increasing the honesty and integrity of my own work by mere proximity to his.

I first met Spencer aged 11 at school in Kent. I saw him pick up his first camera – a hand-me-down SLR gifted by his mum – and watched as he began developing his first photographs in the school darkroom. I saw a hobby turn into an obsession, marvelling at the way Spencer used his camera to document the world around him with the same care and determination with which others filled diaries. A shy person by nature, Spencer exuded a natural confidence with a camera in his hands – it was a confidence that I think stemmed not from a belief in his ability, nor in photography’s potential for providing him with a successful career, but from the simple understanding that he was taking pictures for the right reasons. Photography was more than just a medium; it was his way of finding and framing the magic that existed all around him.

Even after graduating with a photography degree from Falmouth University (where he would later return to lecture), moving to London and filling his days with assisting work, Spencer still made time to occasionally rise before first light, heading out with his tripod and camera bag to break into a nearby reservoir or rubbish dump. The city became his playground, just as the forests beside his family home had been growing up, and he recognised in its industrial desolation the same beauty he’d once recorded in trees and lakes. After success found him and the high profile jobs began pouring in – portrait work mostly, everyone from Gordon Brown to the Beastie Boys shot for magazines and newspapers at home and abroad – Spencer’s appetite for seeking out unseen and unpeopled spaces seemed only to increase. I called them ‘twilight kingdoms’, a reference to TS Eliot, though when Spencer finally curated an exhibition of the work he felt best expressed the thing he’d been seeking all along, he named it with a quote of Nietzsche’s: The Abyss Gazes Into You.

It was a phrase that seemed applicable that morning on Hampstead Heath. Spencer set up his camera on Parliament Hill and began shooting, the exposure times shortening as the rising sun cast its spell – that transformative hour in which the world around us seemed to be born anew, the grass tingling with a kind of divine fire, the glass towers of the city looking like structures of an alien race. From a distance I watched Spencer pinned like an insect against the immensity of the landscape he faced, a solitary figure like the man in Caspar David Friedrich’s The Monk By The Sea, refusing to blink as his gaze met that of the Abyss. In doing so, he seemed to be recording not just the moments of our lives, but a glimpse of something endless and nameless that lay beyond them.
Nov 08

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Huck - Photo Special


Thanks to everyone at Huck for including me in their current photo issue. And a big thanks to Cyrus Shahrad for such a lovely introduction:

One morning this summer I woke at 4am in the spare room of Spencer Murphy’s north London flat. I dressed quickly in the dark, creeping into the kitchen to find Spencer sipping coffee, up an hour already. We quietly loaded bags of camera equipment into the back of his car – a process always tinged with excitement – and drove through sleeping streets to Hampstead, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on the stereo. As we passed the Spaniards Inn I told Spencer about the area’s connection with Dracula – how the author had tragic Lucy Westenra transformed into a vampire, stalking the hills for unfortunate children to drag back to her tomb. Once we’d parked and crossed on to the Heath, however, we walked in silence. The grass was wet underfoot, and the first flush of the new day was felt as much as seen in the world that unfolded around us.

We were there to shoot the London skyline at dawn for the cover of a record I was working on. I’ve been lucky enough to have Spencer provide photographs for all my releases – from my debut EP (an abandoned Cornish airfield) to my second album (the prismatic interior of a derelict German warehouse). I’m aware of what a privilege this is: linking my music with such powerful images has given my output the sort of strong visual identity that others spend a fortune on. But the rewards go deeper: because I’ve known Spencer for so long, and because I know that our art comes from the same place – an attempt to connect with the sublime hidden behind the everyday, to make sense of a finite life in an infinite universe – I feel I’m increasing the honesty and integrity of my own work by mere proximity to his.

I first met Spencer aged 11 at school in Kent. I saw him pick up his first camera – a hand-me-down SLR gifted by his mum – and watched as he began developing his first photographs in the school darkroom. I saw a hobby turn into an obsession, marvelling at the way Spencer used his camera to document the world around him with the same care and determination with which others filled diaries. A shy person by nature, Spencer exuded a natural confidence with a camera in his hands – it was a confidence that I think stemmed not from a belief in his ability, nor in photography’s potential for providing him with a successful career, but from the simple understanding that he was taking pictures for the right reasons. Photography was more than just a medium; it was his way of finding and framing the magic that existed all around him.

Even after graduating with a photography degree from Falmouth University (where he would later return to lecture), moving to London and filling his days with assisting work, Spencer still made time to occasionally rise before first light, heading out with his tripod and camera bag to break into a nearby reservoir or rubbish dump. The city became his playground, just as the forests beside his family home had been growing up, and he recognised in its industrial desolation the same beauty he’d once recorded in trees and lakes. After success found him and the high profile jobs began pouring in – portrait work mostly, everyone from Gordon Brown to the Beastie Boys shot for magazines and newspapers at home and abroad – Spencer’s appetite for seeking out unseen and unpeopled spaces seemed only to increase. I called them ‘twilight kingdoms’, a reference to TS Eliot, though when Spencer finally curated an exhibition of the work he felt best expressed the thing he’d been seeking all along, he named it with a quote of Nietzsche’s: The Abyss Gazes Into You.

It was a phrase that seemed applicable that morning on Hampstead Heath. Spencer set up his camera on Parliament Hill and began shooting, the exposure times shortening as the rising sun cast its spell – that transformative hour in which the world around us seemed to be born anew, the grass tingling with a kind of divine fire, the glass towers of the city looking like structures of an alien race. From a distance I watched Spencer pinned like an insect against the immensity of the landscape he faced, a solitary figure like the man in Caspar David Friedrich’s The Monk By The Sea, refusing to blink as his gaze met that of the Abyss. In doing so, he seemed to be recording not just the moments of our lives, but a glimpse of something endless and nameless that lay beyond them.

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