Mia Meets… Phoebe Kiely

nterview by Mia Kingsley

For this weeks ‘Mia Meets…’ I have interviewed a young lady from Lincolnshire now studying in Manchester. After stumbling across her photos on tumblr I was instantly drawn to her candid style of documenting her surroundings but also the abstract self portraits were extremely refreshing in comparison to the current the ‘Selfie’ obsession (which I feel we are all guilty) So  I decided Phoebe was our girl, we discuss the need to feel a connection with her subjects, who she admires and those mysterious self portraits, Meet Phoebe Kiely… 

So how did you first get into photography? 

I picked up an old compact camera when I was about 13 and started taking photos of my best friend mostly. I never really stopped. The camera soon changed but the instinct to take photos remained.

Have you always had a creative instinct? 

I was always interested in art but I was never very good at it. When I started using a camera something changed and everything felt so right.

What was the first piece of work you were really proud of?

There are two photos, I took them on the same day. Looking back on the photos I am not very keen on them but at the time they felt amazing. 
They were both taken in Trafalgar Square on a really bright day. I hadn’t been using an analogue camera for very long before I took them but I do feel like it was a turning point for me. It was straight after this film that I broke my camera. I believe that means something.

Do you think your work is a reflection of yourself?  

Without a doubt. How can any kind of work created by an artist not reflect that person? My work shows what I see and how I see it. I am always invested in the photos I take. I think whether it’s a cityscape or a self-portrait I am certainly reflected in the image.

Which artists do you admire the most?

To name a few Francesca Woodman, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, William Eggleston, Corinne Day, Sophie Calle.

What inspires you to take photos and create work?

Life, people I feel connected with. Living in Manchester provides a great deal of inspiration. You just can’t avoid it. The city breathes life and beauty. Being here is invaluable.

How would you describe your style?

The fact that I only work with analogue photography gives my work a kind of style. The way I work dictates a certain style, diary-esque images.

Your photos have documentary style, how do you go about taking your photos?

I take photos when I feel compelled to do so. I really can’t describe it any better than that. It depends on the image or series of images but a lot of my work is just my life. Most don’t happen with any kind of plan in mind.

What’s your choice of equipment?

The camera I use most of the time is my Nikon f-301. I bought one from a friend years ago, broke it and then bought the same one. I do have a Minolta which my aunt gave me that I do use on occasion.

Colour or black & white?

I ask myself this question most days. It’s so difficult. There is so much beauty in both. When I shoot in colour I always miss black and white. But on occasion when using black and white film I’ll see a potential image which will look beautiful in colour. I think both have their place in my work but currently it’s black and white.

What was the last exhibition you attended that impressed you? 

Corinne Day, May The Circle Remain. It was stunning and I really don’t feel like anything I say will do it justice. I am so pleased I got to see it.

What is your favourite subject to capture? 

I have discovered lately that I find little point in photographing people I feel no connection with. Sometimes this connection is temporary. But there are two people in particular who I believe I will continue to photograph for the rest of my life. These two people are by far my favourite subjects.

What’s next for you Phoebe, any exciting projects ahead?

I tend not to plan projects but in the foreseeable future I aim to focus on self-portraits. I feel like at this point the need to make them is stronger than ever. I have not shown them anywhere but I have started actively scratching the negatives, just a select few.

Thank you Phoebe! Really beautiful photos 🙂 If you liked Phoebes work please check out her blog to keep updated:

Next week I will be talking to artist Lucy Hardcastle about her use materials and wonderful colours, but until then for more ‘Mia Meets…’ or more Mia Kingsley:


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