Paul Hill, MBE

I’m beginning to think about the upcoming study visit, OCA Study day: Library of Birmingham archive room with photographer Paul Hill. Before thinking about any work in progress I might like to take along to the event, I’ve looked at Paul’s work. I have his book Approaching Photography and Hill’s own website is generous in sharing information and examples of his work .

My notes from a quick reading of the book are attached. It is intended to be a primer and the material dates from the 1980s (reissued 2004), but includes advice and suggestions that I still find relevant. Hill concludes by reminding us that the authenticity of our way of seeing is pivotal to the value of our photographs – after an earlier caution that ‘intention can be destroyed by flashy techniques that have little substance …’. In the upcoming study visit, it would be interesting to ask him, what advice he might add to the book now we are immersed in an internet and mobile media age.

Hill’s website includes some of his writing as well as examples of his work. What he has to say on ‘style’ is important to the idea of ‘finding a voice’. He says ‘Style gives an image that visual impact that acts like a magnet to the eyes . Stylists make ‘showstoppers’ through their command or subversion of conventional techniques that expose us to unique ways of seeing . Their personal signatures are more compelling than the subject matter alone .’ . I feel this could add a critical perspective to my upcoming consideration of ‘genre’.

I enjoyed viewing Hill’s work online – it looks like an embodiment of the advice he offers in his book; unique and authentic. There is a good online display of his White Peak Dark Peak work at the Hyman Collection . The sky is absent from many of the photos, giving a perspective on the land without the drama and distraction of sky. Incomplete from the perspective of the eye in an actual landscape, but more complete as a photographic perspective.

Notes on book