Career Insight - Jane Hilton - Photographer & Filmmaker

Bio jane hilton portrait
Jane started as an assistant working with London-based advertising and fashion photographers, taking the leap to work for herself in 1988, shooting subjects that remains her passion to this day, documentary projects, along with fashion and editorial. 1988 was a big year for Jane when she discovered her love of America and it's culture. A number of critically-acclaimed projects have come from her work in the USA, including Jane's series 'Forever Starts Now' about weddings in Vegas and her project featuring the brothels of Nevada, about which she made a 10-part documentary series for the BBC. Jane's work is regularly featured in the UK's national press and has been exhibited throughout Europe and the USA.

satan's angel at home.jpg You are an established photographer with a huge critically-acclaimed body of work. Do you ever feel you have Ďmade ití as a photographer?
Oh my goodness no! I feel like I have at least another 30 years to go. I think I have only touched the surface.

What motivates you to keep finding things to photograph?
People I meet. Places I bump into. Extraordinary stories I hear about.

Where do you think your career will go? Filmmaking? Editor? Photographer forever?
Obviously once a photographer always a photographer, the filmmaking side I find very challenging and am interested to try and make a better job of it.

a I love how you have devoted huge periods of time to solitary journeys of photographic discovery. Not many people could do that alone. How did that time, dedicated to your creativity, affect the projects you worked on?
Itís a luxury thatís for sure, especially with a family now. Things take me longer than most as I am juggling commercial work to be able to do it. But the time you put in the better in my experience. It gives a richer experience of a subject matter all round.

You started as a photographer but added filmmaking to your skillset. Why did you start filmmaking?
Because I kept meeting such extraordinary people who had amazing things to say, which I could not document in one photograph or a series for that matter. Filming them speaking was the only way forward.

How did the transition to moving images go for you?
It was difficult but I had some amazing people who supported me and taught me how we were going to achieve this. Working with a great team makes the filmmaking experience truly enjoyable and a real change from working on our own.

Do you prefer one medium over the other?
Both have their challenges. I definitely donít prefer one to the other. It is just what format best suits what you are trying to communicate, document or illustrate.

Do you get hands-on with the filmmaking or do you direct and work with a crew?
A mixture. Often with a crew, and sometimes on my own although technically it is a lot to cope with on your own juggling subject matter, sound and visuals but sometimes it gets better results.

johnny and gun from Jane's book Dead Eagle Trail How do you mix making a living with keeping your own passion in photography and filmmaking alive?
Not sure. I just love meeting new people and experiencing different things which I always find inspiring.

What keeps your editorial clients coming back to you?
I have no idea. You are only as good as your last job as they say !

Do you still have to push your work to new clients or have you reached a stage where they find you?

Do you shoot commercial work?

Do you have a different approach to commercial work and editorial?
Yes depending on who it is, they require a different approach.

jane hilton nude girls What are the biggest challenges facing working photographers today?
The fact that everyone thinks they are a professional photographer. Working with film seems to be more expensive and just had some nasty moments traveling through airports with the Xray machines, which does not make it easy.

Would you recommend a career in photography today?
Mmmmm. It has definitely changed. I am so so lucky I started when I did, and had the most amazing experiences with it. I feel for my assistants and the students I meet as it feels now really accessible but much harder to make it. A real paradox.

What was the best business advice you were ever given?
To keep my paperwork up to date and understand I had to remember the business side as taking photographs was only of 20 percent of the time !

What advice would you give to anyone starting a career in filmmaking and photography?
Follow your heart.

Is there a question you always wanted to be asked about your work?
No, I donít really enjoy discussing it to be truthful.

All images are © Jane Hilton and used with permission.

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