Phillip Reardon • Portrait Curator • Editorial Photographer

Touchekvlt

Phillip Reardon also know as ToucheKvlt, grew up all over Florida from Tampa, Clearwater to Largo. A typical kid growing up in a beach city, looking back to his childhood years he would have killed for the same location for todays photo shoots. After moving to Ocala Florida he began to explore his creative side in his early teens. Experiencing a lifestyle change from beach to farm, Phillip started drawing, skateboarding and tagging graffiti on barns.  A creative gateway into a recognized lifestyle and editorial photographer around the world.

After his mother left both him and his stepdad at the age of 13, he began acting out. Phillip aka Touchekvlt, sought release through attending heavy metal shows and getting into fights. Drawn into a heavy metal, vegan, straight edge lifestyle. He took his emotions out as a frontman through performance and writing. After 10 years of touring the world overseas and in the U.S, he channeled all his past frustrations and family struggles into the empowerment of creativity. His music career then led him into shooting music videos and photography for clothing brands based around the music scene. A connection he is deeply passionate about to this day.

Highlights with Touchekvlt

At what point did you discover you wanted to be a photographer? What moment or highlight changed your life?

I guess I touched on some of that on the question before however being a “photographer” has never really been a title I wear or cared to ever truly be. I really thought photography was kind of pointless even then. I’ve always seen myself and been hired as a “Creative Director” because I was an artist and musician and now working in a visual asset space. I find myself being able to have my hands in so much more process and getting the ideas out of my head without them getting watered down, or taken the wrong direction because someone else had the job to decipher what I was trying to get out. It was always easier to “show you” than tell you and at the point, the idea was fairly close to finished.

The moment I KNEW I wanted to learn more about photography was when I got my first Sony Alpha a7R II Mirrorless Digital Camera. It was just different and the menus weren’t like my other camera… so I had to slow down and think. It changed my creative process and it just triggered something inside me.

What is your go-to gear? Lens?

I’m not a gear fucker…. to me, it’s really more about the light. I will shoot on point and shoots, or iPhones if its whats in my hands. Typically though I would say either a Canon 5d (mark2-4) and a Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 lenses or my baby the Sony A7r (mark 1 or 2) and the Sony 24-70mm 2.8 G master lens.

What was your first camera? How has your workflow changed from when you first started shooting?

My first camera was a video camera. Intense little rigs before DSLRs really came out and were capable of shooting video and since cinema was my first love, I was shooting video and exporting single frames as photos at 1920×1080. After that phase and I learned about the ease and compact nature of DSLRs and got a canon rebel t2i w the 18-55mm kit lens and shot with that till my sony camera came along.

What is one of your favorite photographs you shot and why?

Of mine hmmm? Honestly probably the one of my fiance, Jeana Turner in the desert, where a look I’ve always kind of “lusted” after stylistically made sense and I saw it in my own photos.

Thinking back, is there a specific shoot that helped shape you as a photographer and define your style?

My best friends Angela Mazzanti and Malachi took some travel trips just going around booking and shooting. From Orange County to San Diego through Arizona up to San Fransisco. We have just always had one another helping and assisting. When we would have an idea or see something and just jump out and do it! We had no boundaries really. If we wanted to try something we just went and did it. That feeling is priceless in growth not to mention portfolio wise as we shoot thousands of photos on these trips.

What informs how you look at the world?

I definitely look at the world with a creative child’s eyes. I don’t think that’s ever changed. I’ve never stopped myself from doing things. Growing up without parents probably allowed me to not have to answer to anyone. So to me, if I can see it, think it, or dream it… I am gonna go do it! That freedom has helped me evolve constantly and never second guess myself and the typical “what if” fears a lot of people have, holding them back.

You’ve been a photographer around the world for a few years. What are a few pieces of advice you find yourself offering most frequently to aspiring or emerging photographers who are looking to advance their careers?

Don’t get stuck chasing the “must-have” gear. Within the past 5 years, it seems every 4 months some new gear is coming out and making everything you haven’t even paid off yet “obsolete” when in fact that’s just marketing. The Canon 5d and 5d Mark 2 have been staple cameras for the industry for many years and it’s not like the requirements for printing or seeing light have changed. Those cameras can still shoot amazing photos and print in magazines as they have for years before.

My advice is to learn what you like and understand what light actually does. Light makes the photos, not a camera body or a lens. See it with your eyes and figure out how those tools will work for you.

Finally, do you have different metrics or criteria in mind when shooting on location? What can emerging talents do to stand out from the crowd in the context of submissions and building their portfolio?

This is a taboo statement since this is in a publication and all, but… don’t get caught up in the fake world of social media and online magazines and feeling they define “great work” IG isn’t for fine art photo, it’s for food, kittens and half-naked women (for horny men) I know plenty of mind-blowing photographers with galleries and book in stores that are booked every day making an amazing living that have less than 3k followers, but they shoot for vogue and Gucci campaigns we see everywhere.

So much of social media is a false fame people chase to validate their stance in a community… but with how accessible it is to purchase that credit (fake followers & likes) it’s ironic how invalidating it should make everyone feel. If you’re passionate about this, the art, the act of… the addictive itch to create, just do it! If there’s a model or photographer whose work you love, don’t feel that paying them to get what you need makes you not legitimate at what you do. If its a hobby, do trade shoots every day but please be mindful when reaching out to people who are doing this as living with MANY additional expenses & responsibilities. Do not offend them by saying dumb shit like “Oh I don’t pay for models/photographers, I usually charge” or something like that.

It’s a disrespectful way to engage someone who might be a benefit to you in this industry, not to mention – no one likes someone who feels entitled to shit. I recommend emailing them and asking for some logistics about their process and how booking with them works. If they have any projects they are working on that needs a muse or if they like your look etc, versus “hey we should collab/test” when what you really mean is ” I just want free photos and don’t value my work or yours enough to pay for it”. Very few people in this world do their job for free. Do not assume because someone else has worked with you for free before, that everyone else will.

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