My name is Michael Hillman. I live in Venice. I am originally from Irvine, California, two completely different and apposing parts of Southern California. I love surfing and a good cheeseburger.
I have always been an artist ever since I was a little kid. I can remember painting and drawing since beginning of time. I was always trying to draw anime characters from Dragon Ball Z, I always really enjoyed how polarizing and idealistic it was. I was first attracted to photography through Surfer Magazine. Growing up in Irvine was hard as a creative type like myself. It was the first master-planned community in the country and there wasn't much to be inspired by, true suburbia. I had a vivid imagination growing up and needed an outlet for that. Those magazines were always a great outlet for my imagination.
I bought my first camera with my scholarship money in college when I was a sophomore and eventually became the Staff Photographer of my school. That really helped me quite a bit in terms of believing in my ability.
I seem to always enjoy the tension and release of my subjects. I studied music quite a lot when I was younger and I can certainly say that the idea of Consonance & Dissonance really influences my work. In music, Consonance is a stable chord, Dissonance is an unstable chord, and when they're combined they create a perfect harmony. That idea of tension and release really ifluences my work. That moment before something is going to happen. I enjoy mystery and the unknown. Might be due to my scorpio personality. I'm very intense and passionate...
I feel very gifted and priviledged to be able to do what I love for a living so I can't say that I prefer one or the other. Personal projects are certainly very rewarding, well...personally. But with commercial projects comes quite a bit of collaboration with talented artists, especially in Los Angeles.
Painting, philosophy, books and music. Reading "In Praise of Shadows" by Junichiro Tanizaki has had a profound effect on my work. Elon Musk's recent announcement about his patents. I'm rarely inspired by other photographers, I feel they tend to focus too much on their equipment. But I'm always looking to the masters like Avedon, Rodney Smith, Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, Julius Schulman and others.
I always come back to one photo of mine. It is about my mother. I owe just about everything to her. She was a Pan-Am Stewardess in the late 60's/70's. I made it for my Senior BFA thesis. "Mama don't leave... Daddy Come Home..."
This interview was originally published on BehindTheCamera.co.