Thanks for visiting my site. My name is Frank Phillips, and I live in
Birmingham, Alabama. I am in middle management with an S&P 500 company, so
photography is not my "business", but it is obviously a very serious hobby
for me. As you can see from my work, my specialty is what I like to call bug "portraits" because typical insect photography is rather clinical and
dry, and I want to give my photographs much more "personality" than that. Therefore, when I begin a shot I always keep in mind the goal of capturing
the bug from an angle that we humans don't normally see...and I believe that
it shows in my work.
I also believe that this master designer is the God we know from the Bible, and if He took so
much care when creating something so tiny and "insignificant", then you can
imagine the care He takes when creating each child in its mother's womb. The Bible
tells us that God knows when even the smallest bird falls from the
sky; if He cares about them, then He certainly cares about you. Please
if you're interested in knowing more.
Where do you find the bugs? Everywhere. Obviously, the deeper you get into "nature", the more bugs you will find, but you don't necessarily have to be at a botanical gardens or nature preserve or national park to find lots of great bugs. I always start in my own back yard. I have planted some very fragrant tea olive bushes along the back of my property, and I have many "encore" azalea plants (the ones that bloom several times a year) along the midline of my back yard. Fragrant and colorful plants are very attractive to bugs, so that's what you want if you want the bugs to come to you. Otherwise, it is always a good idea to visit your local botanical gardens or nature preserve, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.
What is the photographic "technical" term for this type of photography? This is called "macro" photography (or "photomacrography"). Macro means reproducing an image on the film plane (or digital sensor in my case) that is the same size on the film plane as it is in real life (hence the term "lifesize"). This is not to be confused with normal "close-up" photography, which many people incorrectly call "macro". If you're not shooting lifesize or better, you're not shooting macro. Obviously, this type of photography is very well suited for photographing very small things (like bugs), but it entails tremendous technical challenges to get it right, especially when photographing at two, three, and four times lifesize.
Do you ever chill or gas the bugs to make them cooperate? Never. Never ever. That would be cheating, wouldn't it? There's something about photographic integrity that makes me shun such methods, not because I'm an animal rights type person (and I'm not) but simply because there' s so much satisfaction and value in getting the shot the way it really is. For example, Yellowjackets (like the one at right) are extremely uncooperative, but if you find them very early in the morning when it's still very chilly, they can't fly yet, so they might sit there and let you take a few shots before your flash warms them enough to fly away.
Why is the depth-of-field so shallow on your photos? If you're asking this question, you must be a photographer, too. Limited depth of field is the nature of macro photography...the more you magnify a subject, the less depth you'll get. Since many of my shots are at 3x lifesize and greater, there is extremely limited depth...yet another technical hurdle to this type of photography. The damselfly at left was photographed at 3x lifesize, and he was roughly one inch from the front of my lens. His face is in focus, but his 2nd set of legs aren't...very shallow depth indeed.
I want to do this, too. What camera should I buy? That's not one I'm going to answer because you'll get sticker shock once you see what it all adds up to. Instead, let me recommend that you begin by experimenting with your existing equipment. If you've got a digital "point and shoot", start playing around with the camera's macro mode (and like I said earlier, this is a misnomer because point and shoot digitals are incapable of true macro). If you've got an SLR (film or digital), then go drop $120 on a full set of extension tubes and begin experimenting. Then, if you get the hang of it and like what you see, you can consider making larger investments in more specific equipment.
Has your work ever been published? Yes, numerous times. My most published shot is the dragonfly at left. It won an International Photography Award in 2003 and was published in their annual book, and it was also featured on the cover of the UK magazine "Total Digital Photography" in the fall of 2003. The photo of the Mayfly above and to the right was on the cover of the e-Magazine Vivid Light Photography in 2003. My work was published in the March 2004 issue of "Shutterbug" magazine (in the "Richard's Picks" section). The green-eyed bee at right won a National Photo Award in 2004, and I was dubbed "Master of the Macro" by the National Photo Awards. I was the "Last Frame" feature in Outdoor Photographer magazine in May 2005. My images will also be included in the next insect field guide published by Kaufman Field Guides. One of my ant photos was used in a national ad campaign in 2004, too. I am working on a book version of "Beautiful Bugs" that I hope will be published someday. Additionally, I do have one non-bug photo published on Michael Franks site (he's a popular jazz musician) here.
All content and images ©2002-2005 by Frank H Phillips, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. All rights reserved. Complete academic content has been registered with the United States Copyright Office in accordance with Title 17 of the US Code. Copying, downloading, duplication, reproduction, commercial use, or any other use of any image on this site is prohibited without the expressed consent of the author. If your organization (profit or non-profit) would like to use one of my photos or other content of this site, please use the contact information provided.