There are some familiar faces within the pages of photographer Valerie Phillips‘ latest compilation, “Another Girl Another Planet,” published by Rizzoli. And yet, every other face that doesn’t belong to a celebrity, model or public figure also feels familiar—we know these women. It can be argued that this all pertains to Phillips style, employing a candid authenticity. The images are vibrant and idealized, yes, but the women within shine with honest conviction. Distinct fashion sensibilities are celebrated, but so are emotions, acts and archetypes. As far as visual studies of a photographer’s work (thus far) go, this declares Phillips as an artist with an eye for boldness and a voice that seeks to elevate her subjects.
All of the work within “Another Girl Another Planet” has been drawn from previous volumes, be that Phillips’ eight limited edition, self-published books or her archive of advertising and editorial work. Regarding her selections, Phillips explains to CH, “It wasn’t a very intellectual process. It was basically asking myself, ‘What are my favorite images? What means the most to me? Where have I achieved what I wanted to achieve and represented what I see about the world?'” She notes that conveying a truth about each of her subjects in the imagery was paramount. From there, she says, “I really just collected my gut instinct favorite images and talked to my editor about them and made an edit.”
I’m interested in someone who comes in and kicks ass with their own weirdness and their faults
There’s an inherent vibrance to the photography, but realism is at the core. Phillips is often referred to as a realist photographer but when asked about this she says, “I would say that there is a certain amount of reality. There’s an essence of reality running through them. I don’t change the nature or look of any of the girls that walk through my door. I never overly style them or make them who they are not. Fashion uses models as a blank canvas. I don’t like that. I’m interested in someone who comes in and kicks ass with their own weirdness and their faults.” This is the authenticity Phillips seeks—and heightens.
In turn, this comes down to directing and empowering her subjects. “I think I just try to give the girls a confidence,” she adds. “I start out by having a chat and a cup of tea and hanging out and talking about how I make my work and what I hope this person can add. I make clear that nothing they do is wrong. I want to see all of it: what they’re like and who they are. There’s a certain confidence in being told that.” Phillips works with personality rather than with point-by-point direction. And through this, she’s captured quite the selection of beautiful, powerful women.
“Another Girl Another Planet” is available online for $35.
Images by Cool Hunting