Trey Hill Photographs

the Kizer Soze principle

Posted in commercial, craft, photography by Trey on July 30, 2009

My love affair with screenwriting began in the balcony of an old Singapore movie house when I was in the seventh grade. The romance took me to film school, where I ate, drank & breathed everything film and one of the things I learned there was the importance of a good set up – a strong first act. It’s so important that there are whole seminars on the how to craft the first ten pages of a screenplay.

In one of my screenwriting classes, we looked at the set up in The Usual Suspects. Do you remember it? The mealy mouthed cripple, Verbal Kint, in the detective’s office, says of Keyser Soze, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

That line haunts you the rest of the film. That is a great set up. And the genius of the line is it takes a complicated theme and puts it into incredibly simple terms.

This same idea can be used, to great effect, in photography as well.

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This is a subject I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately and I’m not sure where I first encountered it in practice (the only place I can think to point to is Dan Winters, who does it infinitely better than anyone), but simplicity – simple light, simple composition, simple posture – is the best way I’ve found to expose for honest emotion.

I recently did portraits for Need Him, a non-profit whose mission is to give people a chance to hear the story of God’s love for mankind as it was personified in Jesus. They wanted their story to be told with authenticity, so early on, the decision was made to cast ordinary people instead of models.

However, people are a complicated tangle of story lines and emotions and most put up high walls that hide the honest, authentic emotion from strangers. Putting a camera in their face or being placed under a bunch of lights while being told what to do only adds to their discomfort.

So, as excited as I was about the opportunity to explore some of the complexity that real people bring with them, I knew that in order to create an environment where that could happen, I would need a simple set up.

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polaroid breakfast

Posted in i am second, outtakes, photography, random by Trey on July 29, 2009

We kicked off the first of 6 I Am Second shoots that I have booked between now & the end of August. I have been working with most of these peeps for a little over a year. Inevitably, polaroid time turns a little goofy – see also my friend Lan’s attempt to make me laugh during an I Am Second shoot last year.

All to say, we have a good time.

While we were waiting for our first subject yesterday morning, we ate breakfast, made a few images & laughed.

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St. John Baptist Church

Posted in documentary, personal, photography by Trey on July 20, 2009

The story, as I understand it, goes something like this:

The city was threatening to condemn an historic old church just south of downtown Carrollton. The ninety something year old building required tens of thousands of dollars in repairs to bring it up to code and to make matters worse, the church was strapped for cash. Believing that The Church was an idea bigger than a building, they began making phone calls to other area churches to see if anyone would lend a hand in saving one of the oldest African American congregations in the DFW area.

The Church answered the call.

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This past Saturday, the faithful of St. John (and the hundreds of volunteers who helped save it) received a tremendous piece of encouragement for all the sweat & prayers they offered in the name of helping a neighbor in need. The city of Carrollton honored them with an historical marker. It may not sound like much, but it was clear to me as I stood among those gathered for the early morning ceremony that the gesture was one of the highest moments in the congregations 117 year history. It was an incredible honor to be there to witness a quiet piece of history unfold and celebrate with The Church a triumph of unity.

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You can read the full story of the history of St. John at their newly launched website and see more images after the jump.

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production stills

Posted in celebrity, commercial, documentary, portfolio, production stills by Trey on July 9, 2009

i put together a new PDF book of my production still work. of all the things i shoot, i think production stills are dang near the top of the heap of things i adore. i love the collaborative process that is film making, the energy of a well run set and the way everything looks under the careful craftsmanship of a great DP.

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please take a minute to download the PDF (6.1mb). more after the jump