Behind the Lens: Philip Porcella

-Hollie McLaughlin

Credit: Philip Porcella

Philip is a storyteller. Like a writer who brings their narratives to life with a pen and paper, Porcella tell stories with his lens by capturing moments in time and feeding the hungry eyes of viewers. Behind the lens, Porcella’s own personal narrative is as astonishing and alluring as his photography.

Growing up in Boston, Porcella aspired to be a playwright or a formula one driver. After realizing he “couldn’t be a writer”, he looked towards photography during a trip to Hawaii. “As a young boy I received the gift of a camera. From that moment on, my passion became capturing moments.” The father of a childhood friend was headed to Hawaii to look for locations for the Sheraton Hotel. The family invited Porcella to join them in Hawaii for a month. Before embarking on his adventure, his parents gave him a Kodak Dual Flex camera. He began to “chronicle my youth” and developed his eye as a photographer. “I always saw a photograph wherever I looked.”

Mickey Rooney. Credit: Philip Porcella

Working with Unicef

Aftering working on his craft during his studies at Art Center of Design Los Angeles, Porcella headed to New York City. It was there he began to work with Unicef. While working on a project with Unicef, Porcella photographed Mickey Rooney,Audrey Hepburn, Muhammad Ali and Frank Sinatra. Porcella’s stories from the shoots are as mesmerizing as the portraits produced by the shoots.

Mickey Rooney walked into the studio with wrinkled clothes, placed them on the floor, looked at Porcella and asked “Okay, what am I here for?” Porcella convinced Rooney to jump in the air during the shoot. “I’ll do this once...Okay once more”, he responded to Porcella’s request.

Audrey Hepburn. Credit: Philip Porcella 

It was nearly midnight while Porcella waited for Audrey Hepburn to arrive to their photoshoot at New York’s Pierre Hotel. “Audrey was on her way back from Africa. She fell asleep on my shoulder between shots. She didn’t want makeup. She wasn’t caught up in having her hair done and didn’t worry about the clothes.”

Porcella’s shoot with Muhammad Ali showed his softer side. Ali signed a pair of boxing gloves for Porcella’s daughter. “I mean here he is, a heavyweight champion, and guess what he writes along with his autograph? He wrote ‘Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish’ ”.

Frank Sinatra. Credit: Philip Porcella

Taking Chances

As a photographer, Porcella has strong instinct and his attitude stands as an example for aspiring photographers. While taking portraits of even the most notable celebrities, he says “I didn’t care who they were. I just kept my eyes on their eyes. Eyes are the window to the soul. By making a better connection with my subject, I usually got a better, more candid pose.” He would often bring up the topic of family with his subject to prolong photoshoots. He did this when he was granted only ten minutes to photograph Frank Sinatra. “The funny thing is sometimes it's all about the camera. Using a bigger camera tends to catch people’s attention more. It’s as if they suddenly take you more seriously.”

"Vienna". Credit: Philip Porcella.

His intuition has lead him to produce pieces of work that would otherwise not exist if he hadn’t spoken up. His photograph “Vienna” was created after the shoot wrapped. It began to rain as the shoot finished. Porcella asked the model to turn around and walk away from the camera. The photo captured in this moment is one of his most well known pieces of work.

“Love taking chances” Porcella tells me when asked for advice for aspiring photographers. “If you’re willing to take chances, it always ends up being a good thing. As my friend, (photographer) Sarah Moons says ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t forget you only see my successes’ ”.

To see more of Philip Porcella's work, you can visit his website here>>