Todd Hido: Finding Joy in the Process

It’s easy to think that accomplished artists simply arrive at great ideas. But that’s far from true, says photographer Todd Hido. In this interview, Hido shares just how all over the place he can be when creating, offering a glimpse into how much effort he puts into his work to make it be of the highest level.

New Wave master Jean-Luc Godard once said “The cinema is not an art which films life: the cinema is something between art and life.” The same can be said about the work of the singular American photographer Todd Hido.

Hido’s haunting images of lone houses at night put him in the pantheon of American artists for whom the road is home, or at least the only way home. Beginning with his masterful debut House Hunting in 2001, Hido has elevated the monograph to a cinematic art form whose sequential images reveal compelling narratives among themselves, yet, like whispering children, keep the darkest truths under wraps. We spoke with the Ohio native turned Oakland resident about his craft, his inspirations, and where his work is taking him now.

Looking back at your six monographs, is there one that stands out as being the most meaningful to you. If so, why?

I think there are two that are the most meaningful. Obviously, the first book always has a place in your heart because it’s that book that you’ve been turning around in your head for years and years as a young artist, hoping that you might get to make it one day. The book that I feel is the most significant is Excerpts from Silver Meadows, and the reason is that all my other books prior to that had, I think, a maximum of 35 images. I remember hearing something Bruce Weber once said: “It’s much harder to do a book with 32 pages, as opposed to 100, where nobody will notice the clunkers.” If you have it honed down to a very small set of images, then every image has great significance in that book. I always remembered that, and I followed that method for a while.

When it came time to doing Excerpts from Silver Meadows, I was at a place where I had formed enough of a sophistication with sequencing and editing that I was ready to let it out, because I’ve always been a person that arranges pictures. It’s almost like this obsessive habit I have. Even in my studio, there’ll be pictures laid out on the table, and I’m constantly shifting and shuffling them around. I’d come home from a darkroom and put pictures down, and then it would start the shuffle again. When it came time to do Excerpts from Silver Meadows, I feel like I had a lot to say, and I did a book that had 130 images.

For me, it has this super-cinematic quality to it, because there’s such a mixture of things going on in there. I was also able to incorporate in that book my love and selection of found items, sometimes from my own personal family’s albums, like my father’s scrapbook from when he was in high school. And then all sorts of things that I would find that threw a wrench into a sequence of pictures, like a car crash or a picture of a crashed car. You could throw that image next to a bunch of other pictures, and it really puts a wrench into that story in some way.

It sounds like it was liberating in a way to have the book be bigger and more openly autobiographical, and include stuff that you didn’t make, but that made it into the book. You’re sort of repurposing everything.

Absolutely. Something I found exciting is that I would make things that looked like I didn’t make them, which was fun. The first time I got out a can of spray paint and spray painted a heart on a picture and let it drip all over a punk rock poster was liberating as a photographer. Like, “Hey, I can’t believe I made that.” It opened the door to experimenting more.

Did you have any say in the format of Intimate Distance, the Aperture monograph? What was it like for you to see photographs from many or probably all of your books all in one other book that in a certain sense wasn’t your book?

You’re right, Intimate Distance, my 25-year mid-career survey. Is different than any book I’ve ever made. The reason it had to be different was because my approach in the other books was that I basically took the pictures that I was most interested in working with and I would sequence them into something that made sense to me. That was largely driven by pure intuition and there was that narrative thread. When it came time to do my mid-career survey, we all kind of knew that we had to have a different structure, because if I just went and did my narrative, intuitive mix, then we would end up with a book that was like my other books. So we decided on one of the simplest approaches ever, which is to organize the pictures in chronological order.

I’ve always studied photography; I’ll be a student of photography until the day I die. The process is something that’s fascinating to me. My hope was that it could be enlightening for people that are interested in my work to see the actual order I make things in, because I think what happens a lot with students or people starting out in photography is that they think, “Oh, this person just arrived at this great idea. They ran out and executed it.” That scares a lot of people away thinking that they couldn’t do something like that. But I wanted to show how all over the place I am. One day I’ll shoot a portrait, and the next day I’ll shoot a landscape, and then that night I’ll do night photography. I wanted to show that I’m like anybody else that goes out and shoots what’s around them and follows their interest.

“I’ve always studied photography; I’ll be a student of photography until the day I die. The process is something that’s fascinating to me.”

It’s interesting that your publisher gave you so much input.

I wouldn’t have worked with them if I hadn’t had input. There are many different kinds of photographers, but sometimes they fall into two camps. Some photographers just shoot and shoot and shoot. Somebody else ends up saying, “Hey, let’s make this into a book” and the photographer gives them the pictures and the publisher makes the book. But for me, as soon as I realized that books were a…

Kathy Griffin bloody Trump pic defended by photographer

Tyler Shields

Photographer Tyler Shields doesn’t want to explain what he’s trying to say in his latest, and very arresting, photo, which features comedian Kathy Griffin holding a replica of President Donald Trump’s bloodied, decapitated head in her hand.

On Tuesday, the gory and shocking image debuted and instantly drew quite a bit of outrage. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. called it “disgusting” in a tweet and others on the social media platform have slammed the graphic photo as “wrong” and “pure evil.” However, this isn’t anything Shields and Griffin didn’t expect, the photographer — who is known for making provocative pictures like this — tells EW.

Griffin addressed the image on Twitter:

1/ I caption this “there was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his…wherever” Also @tylershields great Photog/film maker.

— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 30, 2017

2/ OBVIOUSLY, I do not condone ANY violence by my fans or others to anyone, ever! I’m merely mocking the Mocker in Chief.

— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 30, 2017

Shortly after the picture started circulating, EW hopped on the phone for a quick conversation with Shields about the new photo.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come up with the concept for this picture?
TYLER SHIELDS: We’d been talking about doing something and she said to me, “I’m not afraid to get political if you want or make a statement if you want.” It’s always a collaborative process, especially with someone like Kathy, but it was one of those things where we didn’t know exactly what we were gonna do until we got there. Then, once we got there, it just kind of escalated into that. There were a bunch of different ideas thrown around and then, I was like, “This is the one we gotta do.”

Was this a one-day shoot?

Where did you get the Trump bust at on such short notice?
The shoot happened in one day, but we’d been talking about it for a while. We were able to source some things and do stuff like that before… We had about 10 different ideas and we had the props and we had the things there for them, but then on the day, it was like, “This is the one. This is the one to do for sure.”

Why did you want to pursue this one specifically?
A few different things. Obviously, there’s the freedom of speech thing, which is great. It’s such a timely image. We see millions of visuals every day and to make something that really stands out is very difficult now. I think that this has the potential to make people stop for a second and say, “What is that?”

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Were you worried that this might incite violence? Many have accused Trump of doing this with the comments he has made.
No, I’m never the guy that’s like, “We’re making this piece of art so people are gonna go hurt other people because of it.” I always look at it like, when you make something, it makes people not want to do it. That’s just me personally. But again, the great thing about making something like this is that, look, you make it and people have their opinion on it and that’s the fun of it. A compliment and an insult are the same thing; the insult just takes longer to write.

While you were putting this together, were there any other concerns?
There’s a behind-the-scenes video (see below) which just went live and literally in the video, we’re watching one of the videos that we were filming and Kathy’s honest reaction was, “We’re gonna have to move to Mexico because they’re gonna put me in jail.” Now again, fortunately, we have freedom of speech [in the first amendment] and all art is generally protected by these things, but again, this was her first thought, “Will you bail me out of jail?” You know, again,…

Photographer Captures The Unique Beauty Of People With Birthmarks

“Did your boyfriend beat you?” “Did you wash the rest of the paint off your face?” “You have your lipstick all over.” These are just some of the comments received by the subjects of Copenhagen-based photographer Linda Hansen’s recent portrait series, titled Nevus Flammeus. Also known as port-wine stain, nevus flammeus is a congenital vascular malformation that causes birthmarks ranging in color from light rose to dark red. Staring at somebody with this condition would be considered rude if you saw them out on the street, but Hansen’s photographs encourage you to stare in order to force the viewer to see the person behind the birthmark.

“I want to make a confrontation,” Hansen told Feature Shoot. “How long do…

How (and Why) a Photographer Encased His Latest Book in Concrete

Concrete, in its most basic form, has just three ingredients: aggregate (such as sand or crushed stone), a binder (such as gypsum or lime), and water. The hard, versatile building material has been used for thousands of years—in particular by the Romans, who used it to make everything from aqueducts to the spectacular, unreinforced dome of the Pantheon. The term “concrete” also refers to anything solid and physical—not abstract. Yet Hungarian photographer Gábor Kasza illustrates how concrete can be both at once with his new photo book, Concrete passages about closeness and coldness … and a couple of songs. The inside is a series of photographs taken in empty concrete structures that highlight how otherworldly and abstract concrete can be. The outside, on the other hand, is a slipcase made of real, heavy, gray concrete.

“The concept and design of a good photo book also needs to echo its content,” he says. “It’s a possibility to create something that can help to understand the content.”

Photographer Does Typical Newborn Photoshoot … But With A Kitten

Three weeks ago, she and her 5-year-old daughter, Amelie, adopted a kitten they named Luna.

Kitty Lee Photography
Luna the kitten.

Naturally, Amelie is obsessed with her new furry friend.

“When Amelie plays in her doll house, the kitten is in there too,” Schaub told HuffPost. “She even asked if they could take a bath together last night!”

Amelie taking a nap with Luna.

On April 24, Schaub took out a bunch of props she uses for newborn baby photoshoots in preparation for a client. She was about to wash them, when she noticed Luna snoozing away on the couch and was suddenly struck with a fun idea.

“I picked her up, loosely wrapped her in a blanket, and set her down,” Schaub said.

The photographer began to snap away, treating little Luna just like she would an infant subject.

And the results are pretty cute and funny:

Kitty Lee Photography
Luna makes her modeling debut.

“The bowl I posed her…

Photographer To Capture Every Skin Tone In The World For A Human Pantone Project

Race, ethnicity, and skin colour have been dividing factors among humankind for centuries, but Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass is seeking to break down the barriers with her latest project, Humanae. She’s on a mission to capture examples of every skin colour in the world, to prove that diversity goes beyond the standard confines of white, black, red, and yellow.

Humanae quickly gained momentum shortly after its inception in early 2016, and thanks to an extensive social media campaign, Dass was able to capture over 200 portraits while travelling through 19 different international cities. She followed a ritual of first photographing the subjects against a white background, then selecting an 11-pixel square from each of their noses and matching the colour…

Photographer’s Camera Dies At The Beginning Of A Photoshoot, So He Uses His iPhone Instead

Sydney-based photographer Aaron Browning was just about to start a perfectly planned shoot on a sunny day when he picked up his camera to discover it wasn’t working. Rather than rescheduling and going home, Browning got resourceful and decided to use his iPhone 6. His results were better than anyone could have anticipated.

Using the power of iOS 10 and an app called Camera+, which allows users to shoot raw image files, Browning managed to pull off a flawless photoshoot. His shots look like the work of a professional set, making it hard to believe they were shot on a phone camera and edited in Lightroom. “To be fair, I’d already been fairly practiced in limiting myself on shoots,” Browning wrote on a PetaPixel post. “The iPhone limited me even further, so it was a really great challenge.”

His model, Jasmine Scorse-Chen, was reportedly a good…

This Photographer Brilliantly Documented Crime on the Mean Streets of New York City

Back in 2001, I stumbled upon a photography show at the Getty Center in Los Angeles that I still think is one of my favorite museum exhibits I’ve ever seen. It showcased the work of a photographer who went by the name of Weegee.

Weegee captured street scenes in New York City like no other photographer during the 1930s and 1940s. While he sometimes focused his lens on regular folks going about their daily business, it was his stark black and white photos of crime scenes that made Weegee a legend and exposed people to the dark side of American society.

Weegee was born Usher Fellig in 1899 in what is now part of Ukraine. When he was 10-years-old, his family emigrated to New York. Weegee started taking photographs at a young age, working his way up through several companies before striking out of his own as a freelancer in 1935.

Weegee installed a police scanner in his car so he could be the first photographer on the scene to document New York City’s murders, accidents,…

Man Buys Envelope For $3.50 In Barcelona Flea Market, Discovers Work Of Unknown Master Photographer Inside

When American tourist Tom Sponheim bought a stack of photo negatives for $3.50 in a flea market in Barcelona back in 2001, he probably wasn’t expecting to find the secret work of a master photographer hidden inside them. But that’s exactly what he found when he returned home and developed them, because as you can see below, the pictures he discovered are nothing short of stunning.

Keen to learn more about the mysterious person behind the lens, Sponheim set up a Facebook page in 2010. On it he hosted the images he’d developed and bought ads targeting photography enthusiasts in Barcelona. Despite the page’s popularity however, and despite various people identifying themselves or friends in the photographs, the identity of the photographer remained unknown until Begoña Fernández stumbled upon the page in 2017. Awed by the beauty of the pictures, she set upon a fervent quest to get to the bottom of the mystery.

First she managed to identify an elementary school in one of the photographs, and from there she learned about a photography contest in 1962 with similar shooting locations to those in the pictures. Her research eventually led her to the archives of an old photography association called the Agrupació Fotográfica de Catalunya,…

Photographer Captures Life In A Country That Doesn’t Exist

When the Soviet union collapsed in 1991, some took it harder than the others. Namely the South-Eastern part of Moldova, which decided to stay loyal to the ideals of Communism and declared itself a separate country of Transnistria.

When the photographer Julia Autz heard about it, she had to go down there and investigate for herself: “I wanted to see if I could discover how it feels to live in a country with such an uncertain future,” she told the Huck Magazine.

What she found was a self-proclaimed republic with its own currency, border controls, a parliament, a national anthem, and citizenship. Yet all of these things are not recognized by the outside world or even Russia, which is still perceived as a beacon of hope among the Transnistrians who dream of a better future.

The ones who didn’t make the choice of this life in seclusion are the youth of Transnistria: “Many young people want to leave Transnistria because it’s increasingly difficult to find a job that pays enough, not to mention the degrees of the Transnistrian University aren’t even recognized outside of the country. So many kids told me they dream of studying abroad in Russia.”

In March 2014, during the Ukraine crisis and the annexation of Crimea, the Transnistrian government asked to become a part of Russia, which eventually didn’t happen and this paints an even foggier picture of the Transnistria’s future.

Photographer Captures Life In A Country That Doesn't Exist
Julia Autz
Photographer Captures Life In A Country That Doesn't Exist
Julia Autz
Photographer Captures Life...