What inspired you to start taking photographs, and what is the primary inspiration for you to keep working in this field?
My father and my grandfather were both photographic hobbyists. In the beginning I merely followed their lead. But for me my connection to the medium quickly grew deeper. Photography became a vehicle through which I could navigate and maintain a kind of control. I could order events, categorize friends and places…edit my world. Photography made everything around me look better. It made life clearer. As a boy I felt as though I had very little control over my life. Photography was an antidote. It was my escape. Now, as an adult and practicing artist, I make photographs for multiple reasons, but I’m sure, at my core, there is still this therapeutic/historic connection to the camera.
In your opinion and experience, how can emerging photographers evaluate themselves as ready to start promoting their works and seek broader exposure for their photographs? What is one vital action you would recommend photographers undertake to find their audience, be included in exhibitions, and gain professional representation?
I think an artist knows when the work is ready. When it’s as good as it can be at THAT moment…and perhaps when it needs an audience. I would suggest to any emerging talent to start looking at galleries/exhibition spaces that they perhaps feel a kinship with…a sense of alignment. Investigate the procedures for getting your work in front of them and do it. Play by their rules. Be prepared. Speak well about what you make, write solid statements about your work and be prepared to handle criticism. Don’t be defensive…turn off. Write thank you notes! It only takes that one or two galleries or supporter/backer to start the ball rolling. Make the work, but also know that you have the daunting task of marketing it and sending it out into the world.
How did it come about that you achieved the status of successful, professional photographer? What steps were involved in reaching your level of success?
Work, lots of energy and a blind faith that what I was making mattered not only to myself but to others as well. I knew that I had to get the work out there. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do; make my imagery and make a living doing it. I worked, and continue to work very hard. I make, I fail, I make, I succeed. It’s a kind of battle. But through it all I’m learning and finding inspiration. And I might also suggest building a large skill set. Make fine art, commercial art, editorial art, teach, assist, etc, etc. Do it all. It keeps you going and in the end I truly believe that it can inform aspects of your work.
Mary Remembering, 2008
A Kiss, 1994
Aftertaste Of Ritual, 2008
Boys Tethered, 2008
Of A Certain Temperance, 2008
Susie Floating, 2003
Shirts vs. Skins, 2001
The Lone Wolf, 1993
© all images David Hilliard
About this Blog
Two Way Lens is a project designed to inform and inspire emerging photographers wanting to focus their creative output in a way that enhances their chances of finding an audience, being included in exhibitions and ultimately achieving gallery representation. The journey from inspired artist to successful artist is one that is often difficult to negotiate and hard to control. On these pages, I will feature the experiences and opinions of other photographers who I have found inspiring, and hopefully the knowledge they have built in their own experiences will be valuable to all of us finding our own way to sharing our creativity with the wider world.