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A Tribute to Philip Beaurline

Philip Beaurline

Photo by Chip Mitchell

Last Saturday, I learned that my mentor and dear friend, Philip Beaurline, passed away from complications due to the flu. He was 59 and died after getting sick just 10 short days earlier. Shock, sadness, a great sense of loss… I’m not sure how to put in to words what I’m feeling right now. But I can talk about how great Philip was in life and how I will remember him.

Early in 2001, I decided to get out of the web design business and do something else. I was living in Charlottesville, VA and I met Philip through a web design project we worked on together. I was curious how he made a living as a commercial photographer and I so took him out to lunch. That lunch ended up becoming a job offer and a shift in my life so profound, it changed where I was going in my life and who I am today.

When I started working for Philip, I barely knew anything about photography. I knew a little about f/stops and shutter speeds and had done some graphic work in Photoshop. Philip was a 16 year Pro shooting a view camera with roll back film or 4×5 and then scanning it on a drum scanner. I had never seen a view camera or drum scanner before working for him. I didn’t know the difference from E-6 and C-41. I didn’t even know how to load film or set up lights. On top of that, I had never scanned film, done cleanup, or color management before. It took me a while to get up to speed, but I was eager and Philip was patient, if a little unforgiving.

He worked with me and my inexperience, but he never accepted failure or anything less than the best I could do. If I did something wrong, boy did I know about it. As I got better at my job, he rewarded me with praise as well as raises. I started noticing that my hard work was also earning his respect. And that respect grew into a strong friendship over the 12 years I knew him. I’ve always felt honesty was an important trait in a mentor. In my prior job experiences, I could do no wrong and thought I was pretty awesome. Philip really brought me back down to Earth and I am much more humble and honest person because of his straightforward guidance.

The way Philip worked was perfection in action. He never settled for good enough. He also never took a picture he didn’t intend to deliver. He taught me to see the shot before even looking in the camera. It’s taken me my entire career to get remotely close to what he did. Ironically, I never wanted to be an architectural photographer. It wasn’t until I had left  and started shooting on my own that I came to appreciate the art of architectural photography. There’s a certain methodical approach to it that is unique and fits my personality. I’m a tinkerer. If I hadn’t worked for Philip, I would not have the patience and skill to do what I do today.

There are many lessons I learned working for Philip. The one that sticks out the most is quality. I remember having a conversation with him about the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He went on about how the main character loved his tools because they were the made from the best quality. He could feel the craftsmanship in their make and they were a joy to work with. Philip told me that he felt this was a metaphor for everything in life. Quality, be it a tool, a meal, a photograph, even a friendship, was to be cherished and sought after. Quality isn’t something that comes easily and it takes work to get it. But the rewards of quality will fulfill your life like nothing else.

Philip encouraged me to seek out quality and I have done that in my marriage, my home, my family, my friends, and my career. There are great men and there are great photographers. Philip was both. I will miss him dearly.

My heart goes out to his wife and son. I wish them comfort and peace through this hard time.

Lincoln

22 Responses to “A Tribute to Philip Beaurline”

  1. A wonderful tribute… Philip will be very missed.

  2. Mary Anderson says:

    Lincoln, thanks for this lovely tribute. I got to know Philip about the time you did and like you quickly became aware of what a great photographer and guy he was. After countless shoots together over 12 years, most recently in October, we shared many wonderful, fun and funny memories. I will miss him deeply and our shared memories I’ll relive over and over. He spoke of you many times and was so respectful of your work. Very lucky guy to have been mentored by him. I wish you the best in all you do! I’m also in Oregon, KFalls. Best of luck, Lincoln!

  3. Thanks very much for this, Lincoln. People who knew Philip will recognize him, here, and remember what a tremendous person he was. People who never knew him will wish they had.

  4. Mathew says:

    That is a beautiful epitaph. Thank you for sharing

  5. Victor Baldizon says:

    I m sorry for the lost of your friend, let me use this (Quality isn’t something that comes easily and it takes work to get it. But the rewards of quality will fulfill your life like nothing else )

  6. Chuck Taylor says:

    Lincoln…very well written tribute. Philip did some very generous volunteer work for WTJU when I was still GM there. It was a large photo scanning project: all his work was donated. I got to hang out with Philip, his family and his long time friend (and TJU volunteer, Rebecca Foster) while they worked on this project in his studio. Happy Trails to you Philip.

  7. Jeff Amberg says:

    Thanks for sharing that. I’m really saddened by this news, and even more so for your loss. Philip was a great contributor at so many levels. Even though I didn’t know him personally, his posts to the forum helped me very much.

  8. Will May says:

    Lincoln, thank you for this tribute. Philip was a great person and mentor, and I am deeply saddened at his unexpected passing.

  9. Keith Damiani says:

    Beautiful, Lincoln. Philip was a remarkable and talented man, and your portrait of him was very touching. I’ll miss him greatly, and I wish his family the best.

  10. Thank you sharing this Lincoln,

    I was shocked and deeply saddened by this news. I have had several conversations with Philip over the years and he was always helpful. He will be missed by many.

    JJ

  11. Lee Brauer says:

    Thanks so much for writing this Lincoln, I echo your thoughts of Philip. I had the pleasure of working with Philip as we started the ASMP chapter in Va. Philips help and leadership has made the chapter what it is today. I too will miss him…….

  12. Keith Scott says:

    Very nice tribute…I only had the priveledge of working with Philip a couple of times when he photographed some of our projects and it was a great experience. I find it fitting that he preached “quality” and that it was inspired by Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I think that came through in his work and, from everything I have heard, in life as well.

  13. rob sorensen says:

    thank you for a great dedication to phillip. i only met him about 3 years ago. i married his wifes sister renee. he was a really smart guy and very friendly! our family will have a hole in it that will be probably be impossible to fill!

  14. Very nicely done Lincoln. I got to meet Phil way back around 1999 or so when I was a Kodak rep. He was one of those people in the world…he had a finely tuned empathy. He knew I had a job to do – and he was kind enough and willing to help me in whatever way he could. He was personable and kind. I got to know him on a more personal level through Chip Mitchell. So we did have the chance to break bread together a few times. I was always heartened to see him pursuing his personal photographic work (those Mexico churches, etc). I remember a nice, smart, creative and passionate guy. I was really stunned to hear of his passing. My heart goes out to his family. Thanks Lincoln for posting this. Lincoln, I remember meeting you for the first time at Phil’s studio. I think I was leaving and you were just arriving.
    Such a fine portrait of Phil from Chip Mitchell.

  15. Elizabeth McMartin says:

    Thanks for this Lincoln. I remember when you first started working with Philip, and worked on a shoot for one of my clients. I just learned of his passing and am quite shocked and saddened.

  16. Thank you Lincoln for posting this. I saw the notice in the ASMP newsletter that just went out today. I did not know Philip that well, but I certainly do remember meeting him on one of my several visits down south when I was working for the Black Book, and he was a client in the AR100 book, I think? It was a while ago, but even so, this is sad news and I know he will surely be missed. My thoughts go out to his family , friends and all of his photographic buddies.
    Louisa

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