Your portrait photography captures people in a very relaxed way. Do you give them direction or just wait to see what they do naturally?
It really depends on the person I’m photographing. Some I give little to no direction, others need loosening up. I never want a portrait to feel forced or unnatural. I try to capture the essence of the person as they are– when they aren’t trying. With the ones who aren’t as comfortable in front of the camera, I shoot when they aren’t aware I’m starting… when they are walking or getting into place– when their body language and facial expression are natural and effortless. I always want my portraits to be honest.
How often do you use your Holga for professional work and is it something that clients request?
Some clients absolutely want them added in, others don’t really care. I’ve gone in and out with my Holga. When I was shooting only film I would occasionally bring it along, but now I almost always have it in my camera bag with film loaded. Because I’ve started shooting digital more this year than I ever have, my analog cameras bring me back to where I started– not depending on my equipment for a good photo & remembering how the flaws & surprises are beautiful. I think so many people nowadays become gear junkies and want the bigger and better equipment.. its just not what I’ve ever been interested in. When people talk to me about what gear they’re buying I usually have no idea what they are saying. I started shooting with a 35mm bought from a thrift shop. It only lasted one semester before the shutter broke, but it molded me to be a photographer who isn’t dependent on gear. I think mastering the camera you have, whatever it is, is the best approach.
You have some incredible examples of double exposure work. Could you tell us your favorite technique and maybe offer pointers for people who would like to try it?
Thank you, I’ve really enjoyed double exposures and the whole layering process from the beginning. When I shoot multiples, I try to think about the lights & darks that are going to happen. This all depends on your background and the main subject matter. I started doing multiple exposures with my Nikon FM2. That camera has a lever on the shutter, so I was able to do them frame-by-frame. That made it really easy for me to get a feel for doubles & how I wanted to shoot them. The biggest advice I have would be to keep it simple. Less is always more.
What’s your favourite camera to shoot with?
Oh man, this is a hard question. I recently bought a mamiya 645 that i’m pretty in love with. Pretty stoked about the larger format & the polaroid back. But I can’t forget the old faithfuls… the Nikon FM2 that I talked about is probably my all-time favorite. A lot of memories with that one.
What projects do you have lined up over the next year?
For 2014 I plan to do a lot of personal shooting. I have some commercial work that will be in the works, a small local business. I’m also pairing up with a non-profit organization called She Dances for an event in the spring. I’m really excited for that, to be challenged in shooting & to be a part of a worthy cause. Will probably continue to shoot a few wedding & lifestyle shoots, but keeping those to a minimum. I’m not trying to be an extremely successful wedding & lifestyle photographer… I just want to shoot things & people that I care about, stories that deserve to be told. I want this year to be one that requires me to branch out and try new things. I want to explore different avenues & be challenged, surprise some people with what I do. we’ll see.
Hilary Duke is located in Alabama, USA. You can see more at her website: www.hilaryduke.com
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