Photographers Awards

2009 Bronze:
Commissioned Portrait Bronze

Phil Starling

RIP 1953 - 2014

Phil’s memory lives on through family and friends, as well as the thousands of brilliant and awarding images he created over the past forty years as one of the UK’s leading photographers – some of which are displayed here.

Messages of condolence can be left below.

If you wish to make a donation to help others with pancreatic cancer, Phil would be very pleased if you supported either The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund or

With kind regards and best wishes,
Clare and Blanche

Please leave your message below or email a private message to the family

  1. I first met Phil in the summer of 86 – we have been friends ever since and I cannot quite believe he is no longer with us.
    As a photographer Phil was fantastic to work with, affable, talented and extremely versatile, it is no surprise he was a multiple award winner and extremely popular. I am very grateful we were able to work together on so many projects over the years and I will massively miss his enthusiasm, his expertise and most of all, his wonderful friendship. My thoughts are with Clare, Blanche and Family. xoS

    PS – Phil, if you can – save us the best seats – we’ll be along before too long!

  2. I remember the first time I met Phil, he walked into a club meeting of the North Middx photographic society which I had joined about a month previous,there were only about 18 active members there but as 3 of them went to the pub after meetings it suited me. Phil approached with some prints he had and told me he was looking for a club to join. I looked at his work and told him that he wouldn’t find much of a challenge here but suggested that he tried Tottenham camera club which had about 100 members who regularly won trophies for their work. We used to meet socially for a chat over a pint and I use to admire the prints that he turned out in this massive bath in the rooms he was staying at. This was very early in his career when he was sending in work to photographic mags but his photos and the quality of them were so much superior to most work around at the time .We hadnt met up lately for some years and it was only because I emailed him to try and do so, that I learned of his death. He gave me several copies of prints that were published in the observer which I cherish. He was a lovely man and my heart goes out to his family. God bless you Phil. Terry

  3. Phil had an amazingly generous nature, and was a pleasure to work with and to know. There was a calming presence to him that always put his subjects at easy; it shows in his portraiture. He will be greatly missed for his good humour and effortless mastery.

  4. We have warm memories of Phil at TFC London.
    He was always so happy & such an amazing photographer and a lovely person.
    He was a pleasure to work with and will be very much missed by us all.

  5. So sorry to hear about Phil’s passing. We had many good times together over many years and in many places. I feel very privileged to have known him and to have worked with him. A wonderful human being, a very hospitable host and a great photographer.
    When doing his portraiture he always put his subjects (or his “victims” as he called them) at ease. He had the gift of making ordinary people doing everyday jobs feel special. And then he was charming and disarming when photographing celebrities and powerful business people; he was incapable of being sycophantic. All of this shows in his work.
    Most of all though I will remember Phil for his quirky hobbies, his enthusiasms and engaging eccentricities, which always made him good company. Cheerio Phil, we miss you.

  6. I was shocked to learn that Phil had died. We taught together in North London in the 1980’s. He was a talented, lovely man.

  7. I met Phil in June 1994 in Strasbourg. We worked together from that day forward and became friends. I haven’t come to terms with not being able to meet him anymore and he’s everywhere I go in London, strolling beside me with his wallet and phone in his hand. I made this film back in 2001. It was an excuse to come and see Phil and have some fun. The sound is awful, the filming is awful, but looking at it now it has become something beautiful. The idea was to focus on his love of photography and not show any of his own work but to get him to talk about the images that inspire him and tell his story. Listen carefully, watch it a few times. I think you’ll enjoy seeing him again. I can’t listen to Steve Marriot sing The Universal without thinking of Phil.


  8. I called Phil at the end of last year to ask him to quote for a job, that’s when I learned of his battle with cancer. It has been on my mind to visit him for a chat and today, I went to the site to show a young designer the wonderful work, now sadly I learn I am too late to see him. It was never my intention to say goodbye to Phil, in my mind he was going on another adventure. Maybe I lacked the courage to see him diminished in any way, he was such a great photographer.

    Having worked with him many times on various projects for HGV, I would love to refer you to some of the black and white portraits he did for one of our clients, Amoco, it was stunning work and we often showed them to clients to demonstrate how warm a b&w shot can be.

    More than the working relationship, he became a good mate, always good to chat to and it was with pleasure I went to a few parties thrown by Phil and Clare. He was such a kind chap, always smiling and may I say, it takes confidence to wear shirts like that, bless him.

    I shall remember Phil with great fondness and I am sending Clare and Blanche love and best wishes. When the pain fades you will remember him as we all do, as a wonderfully warm person who was a very talented photographer.

    Barbara Vermeir
    Studio Fernando Gutiérrez

  9. What more to say that has not been said already ! Simply A great guy ! At all level .
    Honest, sensitive, warm, fun etc… But the cherry on the cake was his beautiful portrait and his talent in the dark room . I meet Phil in the late 80’s through friends . We did like each other straight away ! We did not see each other in regular basis but everytime it was like we saw each other the day before . A No bull shit guy which is rare those days . Integrity and passion .
    I miss him dearly . We’ll be meeting again at some point like all of us!
    Love you mate ! RIP. Jean

  10. ‘Best things’ was Phil’s regular sign off to the many notes and emails we exchanged over the course of his work with us. And that, apart from his peculiar affinity with unreliable Citroens, was exactly the man I remember. Hugely amicable, uncomplaining, always professional and enthusiastic about his work. In terms of his subjects, he made the dull shine. Long may his work and affection continue.

  11. I recognized Phil as a kindred spirit and a valued friend from our first encounter at Culham College, back in 1972.
    Our friendship continued into his days at Monnery Rd, London, where we shared many laughs, drinks, and many hours in his dark-room as I watched him turn dark into light, not to mention many cups of tea. He liked tea !
    Phil was always amenable, amusing and great company. He was blessed with a gentle spirit.
    There were so many anecdotes from our times together that I wanted to share with him, when I last spoke to him on the phone a few days before he died, but his pain and discomfort prevented that. I just hope that the words I did share with him brought back some of the good times we had together.
    His photographs are a lasting testimony to his outstanding talent as a photographer.
    He was also a talented craftsman and especially in ceramics.
    He once stooped to the field of wedding photography when he agreed to be our wedding photographer, instead of best- man, at our wedding in 1978. And! we have the photos to prove it. A treasured album of classic Starling style shots in b/w, and signed ‘ Phil Starling Lord’.
    Rest in peace brother and rise in glory.
    Proverbs 12;14

  12. Very sad to hear the passing of Phil . I worked with him when I was commissioning photography at Construction Photography – mid 2000’s – Phil was the best to work with, he always got the job done no matter the hurdles thrown up on a shoot – he was keen, clever and a very versatile photographer.
    Will miss your energy Phil. R.I.P.

  13. It’s a rare day that I don’t think about Phil in some way, at some point. I’m still struggling to grasp the fact that he’s gone – it will never seem normal, I think. What I do try to remember is all the fun and laughs we had, in so many cities around Europe, out and about in London, and of course at Monnery Road. Weeping with laughter. One night in particular when he showed something very special to Patesy and me, at our prompting, that we’d never seen before. Patesy, Phil and me would have probably had our annual summer outing by now; it would have invariably involved The French House at some point, and almost certainly ended up at The Hideaway in Tufnell Park. Today, I was back in touch with a mutual friend from back in our SAS days, and Bill wrote to me: “I’m so sorry to hear about Phil. Yes, I was a big fan of his work and an even bigger fan of him as a person. An artist with integrity indeed! “

  14. Just found out about Phil. I commissioned him on several shoots a few years back. He was a pleasure to work with; informed, creative, energetic. What a loss. A great legacy of images to leave behind. Thanks Phil.

  15. I came looking for Phil online to recommend him as the best portrait photographer I had ever come across – he had an incredible ability to put people at their ease and capture the essence and eccentricities of who they were.

    Really saddened to find he has left us before his time, I would’ve loved to work with him again – I guess we should be grateful he has left behind a treasure trove of images that remind us of the way he saw the world.

  16. Pottery then punks
    Then high up on gibs
    In underground tunnels
    On Waterloo Bridge.

    Black and white or process
    Jpeg or tif

    Is there any coffee?
    Any juice?
    When’s the next victim?
    There’s a Henry Moore
    He could sit in.
    Where’s my light meter?
    I’ll be back in a min.

    From the top of a multi story
    Or starring with a gold fish
    Submerged in swimming pool
    Or sat in a sat dish
    Shoving lenses up peoples noses
    Lying down in a bed of roses
    A plethora of poses
    You’ll look great he explains,
    As the shutter opens then closes.

    From beneath his hood
    with a loop in one eye
    He approaches the victim
    Who says, everything alright?
    The lights too slow he replies
    Then pauses
    To avoid the trouble that causes
    Can you stay very, very still?
    Yes, says the victim, yes I will
    Back in the darkness
    He sticks out the trigger
    From under the hood a barely audible snigger
    A minute passes.
    The victim sums up the courage and nervously stutters
    Everything ok?
    Wunderbar! Ticket!
    And in a flash he releases the shutter!

    Are you busy
    I’m asked on the phone
    It’s so quiet here
    We’re doomed.
    I’m working on the boat
    Oh I bought a new lens
    Are you coming to London soon.
    I just wish it wasn’t so slow
    Its a really good lens though!
    I’ll use it on Wednesday
    300 feet up on the gib of a crane.
    On a big job for Costains.

    No regrets
    he whispered
    No regrets he said
    Before I turned and left.

    Just one last thing
    Before I end
    I’ve forgotten my wallet
    Has anyone got a tenner I can lend?

  17. I had the pleasure of working with Phil during my time at Abbott. He was always such a patient and kind presence – and of course an extremely talented photographer. He was even generous enough to be filmed for a daft “how to take good photos” video for our news network.
    I’m so sorry I have only come to hear of Phil’s passing now. My belated and heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.

  18. So very saddened to hear of Phil’s passing. We were both students at Culham College in the 1970’s, though in different years. I remember looking at his photos and cracked pots (by design!) I remember him as a very kind and caring person, with a good sense of humour. My deepest condolences to his family. Barbara Nourse (nee Stansfield).

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