Philip Berryman



Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

Aaron Siskind

I am completely caught up in the value and power of images and my life is littered with numerous images that are never too far away (or on some occasions purposely hidden from view). Images that trigger certain emotions and are often there in view to support me, to remind me, to inspire me, to help me, to make me smile and feel good about my life.

When I split up from a previous girlfriend all images of her were collected and arranged into neat labeled folders. These were then hidden deep within the depths of my computer hard drive. In a place that cannot be easily accessed. Like the nuclear code it can only be accessed under very strict circumstances. There is one photo in particular amongst many hundreds that could trigger an absolutely catastrophic emotional disaster of epic proportions. An emotional meltdown that that would be felt across the globe. There is one particular headshot of her that my response to looking at it is so overwhelming it would be too much to bear. She looks so utterly beautiful in the photo that it’s a heartbreaking reminder of happier times. My shrink would scream and rip her diploma certificate into shreds and shout; ‘Why oh why don’t you just listen Berryman?’ and give up her practice. Like the famous Monty Python sketch where a writer pens the funniest joke in the world that you died laughing when you heard it. The British Army used it to devastating affect on the Germans during the war. The joke had to be told under very strict circumstances, as it would kill even the person telling the joke. This image of my X girlfriend is much the same. Upon looking at this image I will be overcome with so much emotion and pain that I have worked hard to bury and control. 

The photo is essentially emotionally loaded. Only I know how we both felt at the time the photo was taken. Only we know where we were in our relationship when it was taken and of course neither of us knew what was to happen years later. We had no idea on that beautiful summers day what was ahead for us both. This incredible power of imagery for me is at the heart of my passion for photography. 

I have another photograph of a different past girlfriend that is in the drawer of my bedside table even now. I am no longer in contact with her and perhaps never will ever hear from her again. The reason it is there is because when I look at it I am reminded of the beauty, innocence and purity of that relationship. The love and desire we had for each other and the subsequent impact that had on us both.  I am over her and can live with that photo and looking at it makes me smile and gives me strength to go on and celebrate life. It reminds me of the incredible excitement we both experienced learning about love, sex and life. It may not be so much about her as such but about what it represents and the desire to potentially replicate such emotions still in my life.

On my office desk I have a photo of another past girlfriend whom I dated when I lived and worked in Bangkok. It’s actually a poor image in many respects. Its too dark, a touch out of focus and blurred. But her beauty and appeal is evident and once again the image is so loaded with meaning and energy. We were not in love and both knew that the relationship would not last long. But we were addicted to each other and caught up in something that we perhaps both knew would be hard to replicate later. When I gaze at this image I am flooded with memories of that time in my life and all that we shared so long ago. I feel sad but also excited by this photograph. It is inspirational and makes me want to live my life to the full and be passionate about everything I do.  I am essentially energized by it. Next to that photo is a lovely quote from actor Burt Reynolds.

 Nobody had more fun that I did.

So the photo and the quote reminds me of the need to walk away from the computer, the accounts, the bills, the business stresses and simply go out and enjoy life!

In my flat on a dresser I have a photo that would be meaningless to anyone else but me. It is of outdoor staircase. It’s a plain and relatively dull image. But only I know what the stairs in the photo lead to. They are well trodden stairs and I have been up and down the stairs multiple times and I know what is at the top of the stairs once you have ascended them. I know that the stairs lead to a place which leads to experiences that has massively crafted and formed the person I am today. I pass this little snap multiple times every day and ponder my journey and how my experiences there have led me to the place I am in now on my life.  It is for sure a loaded image and has such deeper significance for me.

I also have many fashion images that I’ve photographed dotted around my home. Some visitors have remarked that its odd that I have these silver frames of models on tables as if they are family. Well to me they are family. I know the hard work, effort, and emotional commitment put into making those shoots happen whether its London, New York, Bangkok or Cape Town and yes, they are my little family of beautiful people helping to remind me of incredible achievements and what I am capable of doing if I am in the right frame of mind. 

Artists are certainly caught up in understanding and valuing the power of imagery. This recent commission was to photograph the opening of Jessica McBride’s new gallery in London. If you look back on my blogs you will see a previous ‘pop up’ opening captured for Dellasposa Gallery. I admire Jessica’s talent and journey and am so delighted to see her opening her first permanent space and of course to meet some of the artists and capture the evening. It’s a wonderful challenge to try to shoot what is essentially people standing holding glasses of wine in a plain white room in an interesting and visually stimulating way. I hope that there are some stand out shots here that certainly deliver on creating a more arresting image. I listened to the artists discuss their work and and of course ponder the value and meaning of their work just as I value and am caught up in the emotional connection with my own images. I am reminded how often it is that when one is asked what would you rescue from a burning home, besides the family and the pets and its their family album. I figure now people would rescue the hard drive containing the digital images of our family. 

Like the numerous images around my home, the images, sculptures and paintings in this great new gallery are all loaded with meaning and significance.