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Obituary: Philippe Hays

4 November 2007 - EPUK

Photographer and long-term EPUK member Philippe Hays died suddenly on Wednesday. He was 45.

Updated Friday 5pm: A regular Rex contributor who also supplied Still Pictures, Philippe became unexpectedly ill on Tuesday night with pneumonia-like symptoms. He died suddenly the next day after having been admitted to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.

Philippe’s funeral (above) with flowers from EPUK members (below) Photographs: Brian Harris

Philippe, an entirely self-taught photographer, was born in Grenoble in 1962, and moved from Paris to the UK to work when he was 24.

Philippe’s work had been widely published, with work appearing in publications such as Time magazine, The Economist, Die Zeit, Tatler, The Guardian and Le Figaro. He was a long-standing and well-respected contributor to the EPUK discussion list, always happy to help other photographers, or add a good-humoured aside.

Those list members who would like to make a donation, or wish a message of condolence to be passed to the family, can do so by contacting the EPUK website editor.

The funeral was held on Friday at Chelmsford Crematorium, and afterwards at the White Hart Hotel, Braintree, and was attended by Philippe’s family and many fellow photographers.

The thoughts of all EPUK members are with them and the rest of his family at this time. He will be sadly missed.

Want to contact the EPUK Website editor? editor@epuk.org


Philippe only just wrote to me on the 28th Oct, so its a bit of a shock. Furthermore, he was roughly the same age and with the same age child. I can only offer my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

Comment 1: theo, 4 November 2007, 10:41 pm

They say a picture paints a thousand words.. Philippe, I have no words to paint my sorrow. No words can describe your loss. My thoughts are with your family. Franz

Comment 2: Franz Pagot, 4 November 2007, 10:43 pm

As reactions pour in on the list, I am struck by the number of people who are saying Philippe had just recently been in touch with a word of help or some humourous comment. Well, me too. We often discussed Rex and getting work off-list. I respected him tremendously and enjoyed every exchange we had. And despite him being a Frenchman in England (I’m the other way around), I could never find the slightest mistake in his perfectly elegant English. That always pissed me off.

Salut Philippe.

Comment 3: David Brabyn, 4 November 2007, 11:07 pm

Phillippe also helped me recently – “our loss is Heavens gain” – gone too soon but remembered.

my deepest sympathy to your family.

Salut Phillippe

Comment 4: Tom Ward, 4 November 2007, 11:19 pm

Phillipe helped me with a few eloquent words of French just a couple of weeks ago. ______________________________________

Phillipe, you kept us on our toes, and amused us, and were helpful to a fault.

You will be sadly missed by all of us on EPUK and on all the lists we shared conversations on.

Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences to your family.

Comment 5: Graham Harrison, 5 November 2007, 12:32 am

I was in touch with Philippe quite often. Sometimes about photography but more often it was just about daft jokes spinning across continents. Sometimes in his perfect English and sometimes in my appalling French about which he was always very indulgent. A really helpful guy who seemed to live life on the bright side. This is just shocking and dreadful news. Philippe’s family have my deepest sympathies.

Comment 6: Dan White, 5 November 2007, 07:26 am

My thoughts are with Philippe’s family.

Much like other list members I spoke to Philippe on quite a regular basis. His amusing outrages at certain parts of the industry will be sorely missed.

Comment 7: Jason Bye, 5 November 2007, 08:02 am

I was deeply saddened to hear of loss of Philippe.

My thoughts and sympathies go to his wife, children and family.

Comment 8: Mark Bury, 5 November 2007, 08:25 am

I am truly shocked and saddened by this news and I feel deeply for his family.

Comment 9: Malcolm Case-Green, 5 November 2007, 09:22 am

In the short time I have been on this list Philippe was always incredibly
helpful to any of my posts. It is clear that his is incredibly well
respected by all his peers and I hope that his wife can learn just how liked
by all of us he was.

My thoughts are with his wife and daughter.

Comment 10: Ross Pierson, 5 November 2007, 09:27 am

My thoughts and sympathies are with Philippe’s wife and daughter.

Philippe was an educated, intelligent and witty member of EPUK and his presence will be sorely lost. He always spoke his mind and provided valuable help and experienced views to myself and other young photographers on the list.

Comment 11: Adam Gasson, 5 November 2007, 09:46 am

Shocking and sad news.

I met Philippe on quite a few occasions while working in the South-East. He was a lovely man, a frenchman with an Englishman’s wit and a very talented and committed photographer. May you rest in peace.


Comment 12: Terence Bunch, 5 November 2007, 10:09 am

I never had the pleasure to meet Philippe but whenever I read an email or reply from him on the list he always came across as a caring and sharing kind of guy.
His wry sense of humour will be sadly missed.
My condolences to his wife and daughter as well as the rest of his family.

Comment 13: Arch White, 5 November 2007, 10:11 am

I never met Philippe but I always found his postings informative, helpful and often amusing. He came across as sincere and caring with a good sense of humour.

Like everyone else, I am shocked by the news. My condolences to his family.

Comment 14: Dan Atkin, 5 November 2007, 12:13 pm

shocking news. He will be missed. Never meet him but felt like he was a part of my day to day professional life through epuk. Just having a beer to him now sitting in my hotel. Will miss his witty postings. Saulte Phillippe. RIP

Comment 15: justin leighton, 5 November 2007, 12:25 pm

Terrible news. I never met Phillipe but as a regular on the EPUK list his wise words and humour always shone through. He will be deeply missed by all.

My condolences to his family.

Comment 16: Jon Boyes, 5 November 2007, 12:40 pm

I am genuinely saddened.

I never met Philippe personally, but like many others on the list, I could easily sense and appreciate his kindness, helpfulness and gentle sense of humour.

My sincere condolences go out to his family and loved ones.

Philippe will be sadly missed.

Comment 17: Paul Panayiotou, 5 November 2007, 01:14 pm

Phillippe has been an EPUK member for many, many years, and was instinctively in tune with what it is all about. He helped define EPUK as the resource and community it is, and his was one of the names I always watched out for. He had the generosity to share his wisdom and humour, marred only by occasional misguided attempts to pretend that being French was somehow a good thing.

I now much regret never having met him in ‘real life’. I also regret somehow never having got around to looking at his photo’s before, in all those years. He was good. Exceptional, in fact.

From what has been said, he was very dedicated to his family. We don’t talk about that sort of stuff on EPUK, and Phillippe didn’t. But it’s no surprise that he knew what truly matters in life and lived by it. It was in his contributions to EPUK and in his work. I just hope it is some comfort to his wife and daughter to know they are not alone in missing him.

Thankyou Phillippe.

Comment 18: Tony Sleep, 5 November 2007, 02:32 pm

Although I never met him I am truly saddened at this news. A talented photographer, his images were striking and humourous, revealing a wicked sense of humour and outlook on the world.

My thoughts and sympathies are with his family.

Comment 19: Kiran Ridley, 5 November 2007, 04:16 pm

The combination of Philippe’s authoritative comment and wry humour meant many of us looked out for his posts on EPUK even though we didn’t know him personally. He will be missed.

Comment 20: Vicky Bamforth, 5 November 2007, 05:24 pm

As an avid reader and occasional contributor to EPUK I too was deeply saddened at the loss of Phillippe. His comments and advice were always sage and his humour sharp. He will be truly missed.

His family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Comment 21: Gwen Thomas, 5 November 2007, 05:36 pm

Dear Philippe, EPUK will not be the same without you, and although we never managed to meet I found our phone conversations, amusing, entertaining and informative, it really was a delight to meet someone so passionate about their work and as we all now know, their family. My thoughts go to your family and loved ones, mon brave.

Comment 22: Mark Bourdillon, 6 November 2007, 05:37 pm

Only spoke to Philippe twice to get a pic in my very occasional job as covering pic ed at the MJ. Never met up, but as a snapper myself, he was very easy to connect with. It’s never easy as a one man band, as we all know. You need to screw up your day, by rushing back to ftp an odd pic,, usually, to get that £100. As a snapper covering a trade mag 4 weeks a year, I saw our job from the poachers side and Philippe had class, real class. Competitive as we all are, I am so gutted by the sudden loss. I hope that we can help his wife and daughter to keep Philippe’s work alive, which is what we all want. No-one can live forever, and we all live in the desire of having our work published, by some degree, forever. If Philippe had been a staffer at the Guardian, we would have seen his work daily. He knew the issues and stories. Hopefully we can help bring some money in and, like I said, we all know that we’ll go, but it’s a sweet feeling to think our work will get published in the afterlife.

Mike King


Comment 23: Mike King, 8 November 2007, 12:57 am

Like many others I only knew Philippe through his postings and the help he gave me on a several occasions. Always quick to assist he was equally amusing and light-hearted. I truly regret not having met up with him for that ‘watering hole’ appointment. I am certain that I would have been the richer for it.
We shall miss his presence and my thoughts and condolences go to Julie and their daughter.
Graham Bool

Comment 24: Graham Bool, 8 November 2007, 06:25 pm

There is a piece about Philippe on the front of this week’s Braintree and Witham Times (click for larger version)

Comment 25: Nick McGowan-Lowe, EPUK Website Editor, 8 November 2007, 06:28 pm

I too only ‘knew’ Philippe through EPUK, but found him to be kind, generous, helpful, humourous and patient. It seems from those who knew him better that these were just a few of his qualities in the real world.

Deepest sympathies to his family.


Comment 26: Steve Davey, 9 November 2007, 10:00 am

I was very shocked to learn today the terrible news of Phillipe Hays.

I have known Phillipe for around 10 years and I always had great respect for him as a fellow professional.

I will miss his wonderful french/english accent witty humour and of course the many stories we shared together.

My sincere thoughts go out to his family at this very sad time.

Richard Knights

Comment 27: Richard Knights, 9 November 2007, 05:46 pm

It’s sad to realize that we’ll no longer have the chance to read his interesting and humorous posts again. My thoughts are with his wife and daughter at this time.

Dave Williams

Comment 28: David Williams, 9 November 2007, 08:58 pm

I first met Philippe on a doorstep, hanging outside Michael Barrymore’s house shortly after the infamous pool death in 2001. We gelled immediately having not only a passion for photography but also good food and the music of Frank Zappa.

Philippe had a strong attention for detail, his light meter often seen swinging from his neck, something few photographers bother with. But Philippe was fastidious and a perfectionist. He was also adventurous and we would often team up travelling sometimes hundreds of miles to get stock pictures. Before moving to England he already had a comprehensive stock of photographs taken in Corsica and throughout the rest of France.

I covered many assignments with Philippe, travelling with him to Normandy in northern France for the 2005 D-Day commemorations, to Suffolk for Claudia Schiffer’s wedding as well as numerous demonstrations, marches and other events in London. He had great stamina and ability to work for hours without a break. He was always fun to be with and great company. Besides his passion for photography he had many other interests. He was a fan for Herge’s TinTin books, which he had read many times over. He read both Time magazine and the Daily Telegraph regularly, but was nonetheless liberal in his political outlook. He was a big fan of 24, the US television series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and science fiction. Only recently he was singing the praises of Firefly.

As with all freelancers he always sought to obtain better rates and conditions from clients. It was often the topic of conversation that clients weren’t prepared to pay reasonable rates or understand the work involved.

Philippe was devoted to his wife Julie, and of course his lovely daughter Estelle, who is now nine. The sudden loss has been devastating to his family and close friends alike.

The last time I saw Philippe we covered the Burma protests in London and later ate in Chinatown. My telling him of China and teaching him some Mandarin was beginning to kindle an interest in travelling there some time in the future. He also expressed plans to move back to France in the near future.

It is such a tragedy Philippe was unable to fulfill all his hopes and dreams. But in his short life he did accomplish many great things and made a great many people very happy.

I shall have many fond memories of a true friend. Philippe’s funeral at Chelmsford Crematorium was well attended by friends and fellow photographers and there were many tributes and flowers including some sent by EPUK and Rex Features. He will be greatly missed.

Rob Welham, BA.

Comment 29: Rob Welham BA, 11 November 2007, 07:42 pm

It was a shock to hear of the untimely death of Phillippe. I always enjoyed and respected his postings on EPUK and although never having corresponded with Phillippe, I felt that I knew him.

My sincere condolences to his family.

Richard Kenward

Comment 30: Richard Kenward, 11 November 2007, 10:23 pm

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