Ever heard of Phoenix Taylor? He’s a local Dallas Photographer, although his photo’s have been published nationwide. You’ve probably seen his pictures on the net and if you haven’t, then you are missing out! Wondering exactly why Twilight Fans the world over should know or care about a photographer based in Dallas? Other than the fact that he takes some visionary shots of some fantastically beautiful people, he’s also had the opportunity to shoot 100 Monkeys and Jackson Rathbone and has some surprises in store for fans coming soon.
We interviewed Phoenix recently about his life, his photography, his pictures of the Rathbone Family and his upcoming projects that will thrill Twilighters and 100 Monkey’s fans
To jog your memory 100 Monkeys fans, you’ll probably recognize these pictures of the band
Ok you know this pic of Uncle Larry just freaking rocks
Phoenix is truly a gifted photographer and we here at IFeltHope really wanted to know how he got involved in this art form. Throughout the article we'll be talking about and showing his work as well as his history.
Alright Phoenix, let’s start with the basics so readers know more about you. Where were you originally from and what is your full name?
I was born in East Tawas, Michigan and my name is Phoenix James Crichton Taylor. Named after my Grandfather.
Your myspace lists a background in graphic design, so how did you get involved in photography?
Well, that is actually an interesting story. I have a friend named James Landry. I have known him since I was merely 11 years old and am still a friend of him today. He was going to school for photography and I was going to school for graphics. In the program I was taking they taught us a lot more manual art skills then digital (since they did not really have digital available back then).
When I got out of the program I found out that people wanted to use photos combined with logos and text more than they wanted to use just illustrations. At first I tried to contract out photographers to help me finish projects and jobs but I would never get the work from them that I was asking for. So, as a default... I started taking the pictures myself with a point and shoot camera. Before I knew it, people were much more interested in hiring me for my photography than they were merely just for graphics. I would get request for weddings and local bands... even school pictures! So I have been doing photography ever since, but I only left my "real job" to pursue my art three years ago. It is now my only source of income.
Phoenix Taylor: A photo of Alice, just not the Twilight Alice. This picture captures me every time I see it
Model: mosh: make up: herself: outfit: herself: alice in dallas
Do you reconize this lovely lady? It's none other than Kelly Garrett Rathbone, Jackson's sister.
Wow! I'm always impressed at artists that have been trained in both manual and digital photography since most people today use digital art forms. Starting at such a young age, What made you decide to pursue this full time, ie, is there a defining moment that convinced you of your talent?
Well... there was. I hate to even give her credit. She is kind of a child, but at once she was my world. Samantha Collie. I was dating her for three years and very much loved about every second with her. She was a driving force behind me. She stood by my side when I would do everything but my own art for money.
I was afraid.
I was working as a "loader" for the Rooms to Go warehouse. Waking up around 5am to get to work by six and spend my entire day loading and unloading furniture into semi trailers. She always asked me why I did that when I had so much talent and I would make every excuse under the sun. But, the truth was that I was scared. I was not afraid of failing at things that did not matter. You know what I mean?
If I was fired from being a "warehouse worker", who cared! That was not what I wanted out of life. But, if I tried to be an artist and did not make it... it would be so self realizing that something that I held so sacred, such as my art... wasn't good enough and I would not be able to escape that knowledge, so I was refusing to even try.
Kelly Garrett Rathbone By Phoenix Taylor
She believed in me more than I did and for my birthday she ended up getting me an expensive camera and some equipment and she would pose for me and let me get the needed practice as well as giving me some real encouragement. I would like to say that that was when I walked away from everything and walked towards my career but it was about another year before that happened. I was working as a bar manager at Spike in Mockingbird Station and posting all my practice photos on Myspace, back before Myspace had other photographers. Pretty soon I was getting so many request for photos that I had to start charging just to make up for all the work I was having to miss. The next step was inevitable... I had to quit and just do photography. My first month in business I made almost 10,000 dollars! I have never looked back since then and have even got a lot of tattoos to make sure that there was no way of going back to corporate America!
What is your opinion on post-processing, especially enhancing pictures? Some of your work seems very raw while others have more post-processing and additional elements.
This is what I think about this... "to each their own". But... I CAN NOT STAND PEOPLE WHO HIDE BEHIND BEING TRADITIONALISTS!
Now, let me explain. I have several times ran into "photographers" that try to preach and preach about how you should 'capture everything inside the camera' and they do not 'believe in using photoshop'. The truth is... those same people just don't understand photoshop, they don't have any knowledge and they can not be bothered to educate themselves. Their work suffers from it… like it or not this is now a digital age. There is very little to no difference between developing tricks and properly executed photoshop post work tricks. So, that is all just a bunch of garbage spewed from lazy people.
Me personally, I think that my images are only half done in the camera. I see them finished as I am taking them, but I am very aware that that is only half the job. My work is mixed media. Half photography and half graphic design. That is my style. That does not mean I do not have several people that I look up to that are using film only.
Kali Ann wearing 'SUGAR MAFIA' Necklace. Photographer: PHOENIX:T:PHOTO
What would you say inspires you the most (music, art, beauty, other photo’s?)
Music. Without a doubt. Music. I have wanted to do a series of images that are significantly linked to songs that have changed my life. I wanted to surround myself with certain bands or songs and just let the music soak into that part of me that creates and then let it flow back out of me in the form of a photo. Then name that photo the song title it is inspired by. See what happens.
In general, during a session, how many pics would you say you take to find "the right one"?
I am now a partner in a company that does photosets of models, so more often then not I am looking for 80 good pics. But, I would say it takes me about 11 to get the right 1.
What person would you love to photograph, living or dead?
Oh my God! I would just die to be able to shoot Ellen DeGeneres, Maynard from Tool, the band Placebo and the Golden Boy Stephen Colbert! Got a connection? Please!
You have a wide collection of both personal friends as models as well as orchestrated shoots like weddings. Do you prefer friends and familys as subjects or strangers?
Very interesting question… I don't think I have a preference. Both are just as risky. I have worked with some strangers lately that were so great that they are now friends and then again I have worked with some other people that I did not know prior, that I now wish I would have never taken that call!
BY: Phoenix Taylor
By: Phoenix Taylor
You spent some time with 100 Monkey’s recently during Twicon. Describe what that experience was like especially from a photographer’s point of view.
In one paragraph of an interview? Yeah right! I will have to say, I spent almost 8 days with the 100 Monkeys and I would relive those days everyday again and again, like Groundhogs Day, for the rest of my life.
Well… maybe that is too much. But, you get the idea. There was not a moment with them, living with them, working with them, seeing them with their fans, cooking with Uncle Larry (barely) and just chilling with them that was not an amazing experience. I can not stress enough the amount of character the band has, let alone Jackson Rathbone! And, I know that is who people want to know about. The man was born for great things… from his music, to his acting and to his character as a human being. I don't think I have met a man that could have more of a chip on his shoulder and yet there is absolutely NONE to be found! And, that alone speaks volumes about these guys!
I was welcomed in as one of them, asked my opinions, heard and then released to seek out my vision for the band and they did everything they could to be what I needed them to be… which ironically, was just themselves!
How did you get the chance to follow the Monkeys and how long were you with them?
I had a random chance of fate. I just moved to the Deep Ellum district of downtown Dallas. I bought an old bar and was turning it into an apartment/studio. Lots of work! I had been spending day and night gutting, painting, buying furniture and hanging light fixtures for a few weeks in a row and needed to get outdoors before I went crazy. So I dressed up and stepped out of my place and noticed a large group of people gathered at Hal Samples Art Gallery just three doors down from my place. I decided to go check it out and headed in to the gallery.
It was the third night of the opening of Kelly Garrett Rathbone's gallery showing and she happened to be in attendance that night. I did not know who she was… even when I stood with a female friend of mine slightly checking her out from across the room! "She is pretty hot… not like slutty hot but much more a very classy hot. What do you think" I asked to one of my models/friends that goes by the name of Cupcake, who had been shooting with me most of that day. "Totally. I agree" she replied.
Now this is not uncommon for me. As a photographer I take notice to just about everyone. I then made my way away from the live music where I had originally seen her and down towards the gallery. Once I got down there I found her standing by the base of the stairs. As I walked by her I heard someone say "this is an amazing gallery Kelly, I am so proud of you". And, my heart kind of skipped a beat. All the sculptures that were taking my breath away were all made by her. I instantly wanted to talk to her but was kind of intimidated by the quality of her work. So, one of the staff members there that I had happened to meet a few days prior brought her over to me and we instantly hit it off. I still was not aware of the "Rathbone" connection.
Well, we traded numbers and she came and saw my place that evening and admired my work. She was in love with mine just as much as I was hers. It was flattering. A few days later I called her and invited her to see Transformers 2 with me and she accepted. Well the trailers for that movie included Twilight: New Moon and The Last Airbender. Kelly had not seen either of those trailers yet and she was ESTATIC to see her bro on the big screen not once… but twice (well his name was up twice)! She explained it to all of us and that is when I found out about Jackson and the 100 Monkeys.
With her love for my work and our mutual appreciation for each other and the 100 Monkeys trip to Dallas planned for Twicon, she decided to put the shoot together and it was all done on her end. It was literally that much of a 'right time at the right place" situation.
Do you have a website to view your work outside Facebook or Myspace?
It is www.phoenixtphotography.com and it will be up by the 1st of Oct. You can also check his Myspace here or FaceBook
You’ve had your work used in multiple publications- which were you most proud of?
Virgin Records used my work as the entire book, cover and every thing in between for an album that went international with the band dEAf PEdESTRIANS.
Album Art for deafPedestrians by Phoenix Taylor
24. Do you have a favorite model or subject
also… 100 monkeys!!! I loved those guys and those images.
(Editor note, Mosh featured earlier in the Alice photo, Kali in the glitter photo)
So Phoenix obviously spent time with the band and at this present time, he is planning to release his pictures of his time with the 100 Monkeys and the reality of life as an artist. We are hoping for a photo album type book with personal stories from Phoenix about his experience and tons of brand new exclusive pics of Jackson and the rest of the gifted 100 Monkeys. Until then, here are a few exclusive pics given to us by Phoenix, just to get your senses tingling while we all anxiously await the rest!
Pictures taken by Phoenix Taylor, courtesy of Two Playgrounds, LLC.
You maynot use these photo's in blog posts or in any other form. You may link back to this blog for photo viewing. These photo's are the property of Phoenix Taylor and Two Playgrounds LLC are are only being approved here for use by express written consent from Phoenix Taylor
Pictures taken by Phoenix Taylor, courtesy of Two Playgrounds, LLC.
As Phoenix gets closer to release of the 100 Monkeys Book, we'll bring you more updates. To bide your time, check out Phoenix's myspace, facebook and website! Drop him a line and let him know what you think! Please remember not to use any photo's as Phoenix is creating the 100 Monkey's photo album for fans and these photo's are his property
Here is Part 2 of the Interview with even more Photographs and awesome answers. I'll both link and add the rest of the article here to make it easier for browsing
We've intermixed more of our interview with Phoenix, discussing both his approach to his art as well as some of his stories about the band, 100 Monkeys and his time with them. Lets get down to it-- Part 2 of our interview with self described Experimental Photographer Phoenix Taylor
The man himself!
What sort of approach do you take in each shoot? Some of your work looks spontaneous while others are using flashes/strobes.
I am going to have to disagree with you here. I actually always use strobes, never "flashes". Sometimes I aim directly and harshly and other times I bounce off of walls, reflectors and ceilings to give that more natural look and feeling. But... as for my approach, I take on each shoot with a completely different agenda. I am wanting to create a feeling through a single frame of a larger story line. An embodiment so to speak of something much bigger. Some stories are more edgy and fantasy based while others are much more urban and gritty. I try to stay true to the story we are trying to convey. This is why you see such a diversity in my work while still somehow seeing a little bit of 'me'.
Now this is all true in my "art"... but, sometimes I am just shooting portfolios for models and head shots etc... In those cases I am just trying to create an image that is larger than life. I used to be really big into comic books as a kid. I think I still see a lot of that influence in my work. From composition and perspectives to make up and color usage. Thanks Stan Lee! =)
MODEL- Kali Ann
Do you prefer a planned shoot with as much available equipment as possible or a more carefree approach (Do you start with a concept or just wing it?)
This is 50/50. I just did a shoot with the glorious MOSH! I had planned out a lot of that shoot and we winged just as much. I get some people that get so panicked when it comes to working with me. They start freaking out because they have never done a shoot and I have not yet told them step by step EVERYTHING that is going to happen and it is a week before the shoot! It cracks me up how some people need such a laid out plan and they have to have that to feel better. But, for me... that has never been true. I love letting the personality of the model, her outfits, the weather and my feelings that day all blend together and then I merely step back and let the shoots become what they want to become. I know that might sound really risky... but, some of my best work all came from complete accidents!
The raining apples photo that I am so known for, that was planned an hour into the shoot and even then I had NO clue if I was even capable of pulling that off or not!
A quote by Phoenix on this shot, written on his Deviant Art page
"This image is what started my career. I took it with a POINT and SHOOT KODAK EASY SHARE camera while in new york with someone that had liked what i was capable of doing with just a point and shoot."
The infamous Raining Apples shot can be found at Phoenix's Deviant Art page. If you'd like to see even more photo's by Phoenix, check out his stuff there too, as well as facebook and myspace
Regarding your time again with 100 Monkeys: As all the guys play all the instruments in the band, is there anyone you would consider the “front man”?
I have thought about this several times. It is kind of like the situation with Kelly Rathbone. You almost want to say "she is Jackson Rathbone's sister" but the truth is that she stands very much on her own with her successful art career. With
Jackson's success you would easily want to say " band" but the truth is, I don't think he would say that. In fact… I am almost sure he would not say that. He diverts attention at every chance he can while also being very thankful for it because of the way that it helps the fellow band members by giving exposure to a much deserving and talented band. Jacksons
What is your favorite 100 Monkey’s song
I love smoke, but the truth is I got to hear the whole new catalog and I can honestly say, as much as I love their old stuff… the unreleased stuff and going to blow your minds! Oh… and the new version of "Wings on Fire" is simply the hardest song to get out of your head that was ever wrote!
Just Kelly looking gorgeous. You know, the normal.
What upcoming projects do you have coming up that might be of interest to fans?
I have something very very special I am working on. I am making a book about what it is like being on the road and living the life of artist… especially musicians. We all see the final CD or photo shoot and think "that must be the easiest life ever" but the truth is far form that reality. These guys live their jobs… there is no break, no relationships, no time.. they are doing for the fans and I want to show those fans the commitment that is there from the band and from my perspective of being with them for almost 8 days.
(If you are putting together your book) When can we expect to buy some of your work and where can we purchase it?
I will be sure to update you first and let you expose it to your fan base as well as on jackson-rathbone.com
Do you have any stories about 100 Monkeys behind the scenes that you find particularly funny or interesting?
I can tell you that one day
was in my studio with my personal assistant Pepper and I had left the house to go get something and came back about ten minutes later. When I came back Jackson was in this Italian leather chair I have at my desk that is obviously "my throne". I asked him what did he think he was doing in my chair and my assistant blurts out "he sat down in it and said 'now I am your boss you have to listen to me' and persisted on bossing me around". She was smiling at it like it was a big joke. I looked at Jackson and said "look buddy… it is about time you stop trying to be me. I mean, we both have white Scion XB's, we are both very passionate, work so hard with cant have relationships, we both like to boss around Pepper… we both have successful acting careers!" To which we both busted out laughing! Then he decided to add in that the following night I had left the place they were staying at and my assistant went back to get something we had left. When she got back the 100 Monkeys were playing (like the never stop doing) and they had made one of their spontaneous songs all about me! Pepper got to hear it, she never told me… they did not remember it and I never got to hear it! They tell me it was awesome and flattering! Jackson
I NEVER GOT TO HEAR MY OWN SONG BY THE 100 MONKEYS… and they rubbed it in my face as to "one up me"!!!! That is what the whole time with them was like… constant jokes, love and music!
and there is one more… almost forgot.
at 4am at Twicon Jackson and I walked the hallways of the hotel and came across a fan that had his images as well as Twilight posters on their door. We took some phone pics of him posing against their door. We thought it would be hilarious to post them and let that fan know "he was right outside of your door and if you had just merely stayed away to hear us laughing as we took the pics you could have opened the door and met Jackson Rathbone"!!!!!!
If you had to describe each of the guys in one word, what would you use?
JAY ACTION- humble
BEN J- perfectionist
BEN G- quixotic
UNCLE LARRY- "cool beans"
On to the pics!
JUST PLEASE remember to credit the artist because it was really saddening and uncool to see that photo posted AND chopped
Ok on to the good stuff! I'll post all 4 of the ones we have for now in one place so don't have to do as much searching
Pictures taken by Phoenix Taylor, courtesy of Two Playgrounds, LLC.
Pictures taken by Phoenix Taylor, courtesy of Two Playgrounds, LLC.