Name: Hywel Phillips
Profession: Photographer, Cinematographer
I had an unconventional path to being a professional photographer and cinematographer. I studied Physics with Electronics at University, then went on to do a Ph.D. in Particle Physics and took up science as a career. I had a great time, working mainly on the DELPHI experiment at CERN in Geneva, and helping with preparations for the LHC and ILC, finishing off working at Royal Holloway, University of London as a lecturer in the Physics department.
I’ve been a keen photographer since I was seven years old. All through my teens and twenties I concentrated on landscapes, especially mountainscapes. I also sketched and painted a bit, drawing portraits which led me on to photographing people for references to draw from.
Working at CERN meant I had very early exposure to the internet and world-wide-web. I started to draw portraits of some of my favourite fetish models from photos I saw online. People liked them but I was basing them on other people’s photographs and rigging, and I decided to have a go myself. I was instantly hooked. I felt much more at home as a photographer than I had with drawings, and I wanted, needed to do more.
I launched a modest website to help pay for more shoots. I thought the name “Restrained Elegance” would neatly sum up what I was trying to do. Although there were a few glamour bondage websites around, none of them were quite doing what I wanted to see. I was lucky: the website really took off.
So much so that a few years later I decided to quit my lectureship and work full time as the producer, director and main photographer of Restrained Elegance and Elegance Studios. I’m now assisted by my wife (who models on the site as Ariel Anderssen – we met when she modelled for the site) and a group of talented models, photographers and enthusiasts, bringing our fetish fashion photos and films to life. We hope they strike a balance between romance and eroticism, and that they show the passion of all the people involved in each shoot for what we do. Fetish photography can be sparkling, elegant, interesting, fun, funny … it doesn’t have to be grimy or downbeat.
Over the 12 years the website has been running, we’ve honed techniques and workflows to create high impact images which belie our modest budgets. Producing one short film a week for best part of a decade teaches you efficiency. Being ambitious has let us get results that by rights ought to require budgets a thousand times higher.
My work has been well received and the last few years have brought me attention from mainstream photographers and producers. I’ve run lighting and visual style workshops. I’m increasingly being asked to turn the visual style and touch of elegance that is my signature in my kinky work to other projects, most recently as a feature film cinematographer. I’m hugely excited to have the opportunity to work on mainstream films and TV productions in parallel with my own photography and film-making.