If you take the time and look at Dwayne Hills Photography, you will see beautiful images of people, locations around Austin, business people and fun photos. He also has photos of people representing their causes such as breast cancer and his latest project #MyLifeMatters. We sat down and discussed photography and his latest community project.
DH: I always had a creative passion. Back in New Orleans I could not afford a camera, my mom could not afford to get me a camera, so I didn’t get my first camera until 2002. I couldn’t take a picture to save my life. But I had a expensive camera and wondered why I couldn’t get a decent picture. But realized with a manual camera, I had to adjust everything on my own. I had to learn it. I ended up taken a course at the community college. But I needed a film camera. I thought I was ahead of the game with the digital but I got the film camera and took the course and embraced it. You slow down with a film camera and you think before you hit the shutter button. You appreciate the process.
UM: When did your photography become your business?
DH: I started in 2002 and took it seriously in 2005. At that time, I was taking photos of the French Quarter in New Orleans. But the storm came in 2005 and wiped me out. I only had one camera and traveled to Austin. I found a friend that lived here and we started shooting and using his studio and I began to re-group.
Because I love jazz and I saw artist playing live so I started going to the Elephant room photographing the artist. I got to know the people and started shooting their projects and grew from there.
UM: Tell me about your #MyLiveMatters Project.
DH: The sole purpose was to show our community in a different light and let individuals speak for themselves. Giving them a platform. Most of the people in the images, give me their thoughts. It was not about retaliation but a coming together, community, showing us as the people we really are. We have to respect each others ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, that is what makes us unique as individuals. It is our gift. We have to learn to respect and teach our children across cultures to learn about other races. #MyLiveMatters is an effort to bring people together, show people in their light and being positive. Have the younger people see the unity.
UM: Can people still participate in the project?
DH: Yes. The project will be an on-going thing. I want to leave something for people to look back on. Pictures are apart of our history. It can be used as a reference of a memory for someone who may be going through something. It can be a healing process and connection.
UM: How do you choose the people to be a part of the project?
DH: In the beginning, I looked for positive people, but now people contact me and want to participate. They see it as a platform to give them a voice to speak on their own behalf.
DH: I like that nothing is staged. We talk about their business but there is not a lot of posing. I let them be themselves. I engage in conversation and shoot throughout the conversation. An image is a still emotion but you have to show that emotion through a skilled image. I ask about their personality based on their response to questions and capture those moments as they happen.
UM: What are three things people may not know about you?
DH: I am an introvert, I prefer to be at home. I like jazz music.
UM: What in the future for DHill Photography?
DH: I would love to do more hands on training with people. My goal is to do a summer program with children using a disposable camera. The children would not shoot just anything but with their parent we would discuss composition. What I would want is for the family to allow the child to capture two frames per day out of their life at their eye level. Two shots from their day from their perspective. How the child sees it and how he experiences it. I’m working on a plan to fund it right now. The child would also learn about the development of the photo which will teach them the whole process.
To learn more about DHill Photography, visit http://dhillsphotography.com/.
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