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They Were My Landscape

Phoebe Kiely

Our last feature was a fairly intensive and heavy topic, and so we wanted to share something more about the little moments in life.

Today we’re featuring the beautifully tender work of Manchester-based photographer Phoebe Kiely and her work They Were My Landscape which focuses on all those “in-between moments” that so many of us experience but never notice.

Kiely speaks to us on her primarily analogue and black and white photographs which capture these small but affecting moments, which we believe are just as essential as the hard-hitting documentary works.

They show the small truths in the everyday and the ordinary, the fleeting moments that pass us by but might echo in our minds for days on end.

Have a read of our interview with Kiely below:

I am from a small village in Lincolnshire. I moved to Manchester when I started my photography degree, and I am currently still based in the city.

I work primarily with analogue, and my work documents the world around me; it is my way of moving forward. Collecting an endless stream of photographs.

All my work is processed at home and all the prints are hand-printed in the darkroom.

What’s your story?

I have an obsessive personality, and this literally bleeds into why I create photographs.

From an early age, photography became very addictive, and I’ve just never stopped. However, my style has evolved and become a lot clearer.

There is no finish point, and there is always a reason to keep on creating. Life has a way of moving forward; my work has just progressed with that notion.

You seem to make work in the style of “street” photography — what is it about the street that draws you to it, to photograph it?

It does seem that most of my photographs stem from urban environments. However, I do have a great deal of other photographs, and they all combine in varying edits to create They Were My Landscape.

It’s the fluidity which draws me to the street — the life and movement. The idea that I’m able to place myself in vibrant, busy environment and see what hasn’t been seen.

You shoot predominantly (if not completely) in black and white film. Why have you chosen to work this way?

Not completely, but certainly mostly. Creating black and white photographs allowed me to put every image onto one level. It makes editing more interesting, I believe.

I have recently changed this though, and have been photographing in colour. It was a huge adjustment for me. I am unsure whether I want to create more colour.

It is difficult to balance both at one time. I feel like I’m either seeing in colour, or black and white. I feel like black and white will always have my heart.

What are you up to next?

I’m currently working with Antler Press to create a zine of work I shot last September.

The project was shot in Glasgow, and it is the first time I’ve created an edit of colour and black and white work.

What are you recommending?

I’m obsessed with Twin Peaks at the moment. In Glasgow, I picked up an Ali Smith book, which I devoured quickly. Since then I have been exploring Smith’s other books, the latest was How To Be Both.

But the most recent book I’ve finished was Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. Absolutely loved it.

Tell us about an artist who inspires you.

Trent Parke‘s Minutes to Midnight. Corinne Day’s Diary. Robert Frank’s The Americans. These are three books I love. I’m always inspired by William Eggleston and Diane Arbus.

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