Sam Phelps’ first endeavor in photojournalism began with an overland journey from Mumbai to Paris in 2007. He produced a series of portraits of the Mumbai Fire Brigade, a cultural and historical remnant of British colonisation fusing with modern day India. The photographs were exhibited at the Indian National Centre of Photography in 2008.
His attraction to the documentation of journeys was sparked at this time. Traveling on mountainous roads to Leh, the capital of Ladakh province in northern India he photographed the lives of people along the route. A four day voyage on a train meeting and documenting pilgrims’ experiences traveling from Tehran to the Syrian capital of Damascus to pray at the Umayyad, the Great Mosque of Damascus was also another notable voyage of influence. These experiences have shaped his interaction with individuals and communities he meets and his interpretation of their lives through photography.
More recently this has manifested in the commencement of a long term series titled ‘Train Portraits’, a project entailing travel across countries via train networks with the goal of creating a portrait of a nation and it’s people through the interviews and photographs produced. He is also currently working on other projects from Pakistan; Indus, a photographic journey along the nation’s river system, law and order reform and ongoing documentation of the Afghan diaspora’s shaky existence within Pakistan for the last 30 years.
A background of fine arts study in Sydney, a satisfying but grimy stint in a nickel plating workshop in Oslo, editing Indonesian commercials in hectic Jakarta and numerous years experience within the fashion industry living in Paris has shaped his experience, style and influenced his practice as a photographer. He works increasingly with UN agencies and NGOs including Médecins Sans Frontières, producing photography and video content and running workshops in photography for their communications teams. He also shoots journalistic and portrait assignments for clients including Der Spiegel, Newsweek, The FinancialTimes, The Guardian, Observer magazine and The Times.
He is now focusing on projects in West Africa and is based between Senegal and Australia.