Chris Killip was everything I could have wanted in a photography instructor. More than just a teacher, he was a mentor. He had that ability to be both contagiously passionate about his subject and also truly invested in my success.
Before taking his class, I honestly knew nothing about him. This was in the analog age before you could Google someone or look them up on Wikipedia. What I did know was that he was not a typical PhD, but rather an artist in residence. He had tightly cropped white hair and spike with an English accent. He wore distinctively framed round glasses and tweed jackets. He rolled his own cigarettes and smoked them while introducing us to the greats of documentary photography. Each week we would bring in our work for his critique. He was brutally honest. This style of teaching was not for everyone but it was just what I needed to push me to a level I didn’t even know was possible.
In 2015, I was excited when Steidl reprinted In Flagrante which allowed me to get my hands on Killip’s most famous work just as I was starting to think of putting together my own photobook. Twenty years later, it was just as good if not better than I remembered it.
When I completed my book dummy, I sent a copy to Killip, still living in Cambridge and working on another book with Steidl. I was thrilled to be able to share it with him and he immediately emailed me words of kindness and encouragement. Thank you, Chris Killip, for everything.
Mark F. Erickson is the author of the photobook Other Streets: Scenes from a Life in Vietnam not Lived.