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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one year later

Posted in campaign, celebrity, commercial, i am second, outtakes, photography, tear sheets by Trey on June 5, 2009

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs… and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.”

-Exodus 31:1-5

tomorrow marks one year of my involvement with I Am Second and the first person i shot for the campaign was Jason Castro. i remember being pretty nervous.

i had pitched the idea of shooting production stills to use as additional content on iamsecond.com, but the folks at E3 knew they would need studio portraits for the print & outdoor efforts, so they asked me to try my hand at those as well. at the time, studio photography wasn’t something that i had a ton of experience with – which was the root cause of 97% of my nervousness.

here’s that first image:

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more after the jump

2009 PDN annual

Posted in inspiration, photography by Trey on June 3, 2009

“There will be an emergence of “social thinking” and I think that this would be a great start in the right direction. Photography will play a very big part — as it has done so powerfully in the past — in the presentation of truth and the transformation of social and historical consciousness.

My intention as a photographer is to be a participant in this process.”

– Jeff Riedel

the new PDN photo annual is out. and it’s available online. and it’s superb.

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photo by Dan Winters

the best photographs of the last year, from every imaginable discipline – advertising, editorial, photojournalism, sports, corporate and student work – as well as top portfolio sites, all in one place. it’s an inspirational goldmine. i found myself completely sucked in by the images in the editorial section – especially the work of Dan Winters, who I freaking love. I’m not sure there is a better editorial portrait photographer working today.

more after the jump

heroes

Posted in personal, photography by Trey on June 3, 2009

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David Hume | children’s ministry volunteer at Irving Bible Church


I recently shot a series of conceptual portraits for Irving Bible Church. They are in constant need of volunteers to help out with their kids programs and we came up with this idea of everyday heroes. I think the push to recruit new volunteers begins next month and I’m excited to see what they end up doing from a copy and layout perspective. You can see the whole series here.

more after the jump

construction

Posted in commercial, personal, photography, story by Trey on May 29, 2009

i’ve learned one very valuable lesson while documenting the renovation of Royal Oaks Country Club, construction is messy. very, very messy.

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workers put the finishing touches on the pool area at Royal Oaks, which opened memorial day weekend.

as i mentioned when i last wrote, which seems like eons ago, i’ve been hard at work finalizing the redesign of my website in-between various shooting assignments. i’m happy to report that my good friend and Dallas most talented interactive marketer has begun the blah, blah that is required to turn photoshop files into web wonderment. and i’m really excited. but i also know that the road ahead will be messy, full of unexpected disasters creative challenges and will probably take me right up to the wire (i have a loose & self imposed late summer, like, late August, early September) goal.

fingers crossed.

i should be blogging more. i have a ton of new work to show, recently launched two personal projects and have written an article for COLLIDE that should be going to print soon. so check back soon & often.

My Book

Posted in celebrity, commercial, photography, portfolio by Trey on April 30, 2009

I’ve been hard at work finishing up all my promotional materials, including doing all the initial design work on the redesign of my new website – which I hope is getting close. It’s been a great experience to dream about where I want to go as a photographer and think, in practical terms, about the best way to get there.

One of the items I’ve really put a ton of time and energy behind is my book. I don’t feel like my current portfolio really does a good enough job of showcasing my storytelling abilities. And since that is where I see myself heading, I really wanted a tangible something to put in people’s hands (or inboxes) that showed that side of my work.

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When it came to layout & the purpose behind the piece, I set a few pretty straightforward goals for myself:

Let the images do all the work. No sense trying to be a visual communicator if you can’t say what needs to be said without words. Turns out this is hard for a person who spent the first two-thirds of his life dreaming about being a writer.

Include a few story lines. If you’re going to say “I’m a storyteller” you have to have a few stories to tell. So, this goal was as much about mining my work for the strongest examples of story as it was about not overdoing it.

Make story-like connections between unrelated things. This is one of those ideas that I’ve been obsessed with for quite a long time. I like finding commonality in seemingly unrelated scenes. It’s really fun to put a couple of images together and see what happens.

You can download my book by clicking on one of the follow links: choose the large version if you want something big, but if you’re on a slow internet connection or want to email it to someone, choose the small version.

There are a few spreads from the book after the jump.

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not suited to round holes

Posted in personal, photography, scape by Trey on March 26, 2009

i’m excited to announce that i’ve uploaded several new images into my personal collection & am having a small sale to celebrate. from now until next Tuesday (March 31st) anyone who purchases a square print (one of the three below) will receive a free print.

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here’s how it works:

1. purchase a square print – 5×5, 8×8, 10×10 or 20×20

2. at checkout, put a note in the comments with the name of the image you would like

3. the size of your free print will be related to the size of the print you purchase (if you’d prefer a smaller size, please note the size you’d like along with the name)

5×5 (4×6)

8×8 (6×9 or smaller)

10×10 (8×12 or smaller)

20×20 (16×24 or smaller)

like i said, there are several new images in the store, so even if one of the three above doesn’t tickle your fancy there might be something new that does. take a minute and check-a-check-a-check it out yo.

Gary Kyle

Posted in musicians, photography by Trey on March 20, 2009

yesterday was a pretty spectacular day of shooting. i spent about four hours with an incredibly talented musician; he’s a Texas singer\songwriter type. if you haven’t had a chance to see or hear Gary Kyle, then take a few minutes to check him out. he has a classic Texas country sound and moves seamlessly between kick-a road house rock & stripped down ballads.

i promise, he’s really, really good.

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we rolled very light – it was just him, that beautiful old Epiphone and myself. i brought a couple of light stands, a 5-in-1 reflector and an SB800; Zack Arias would have been proud.

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square root day

Posted in personal, photography by Trey on March 3, 2009

that’s right people… today is March 3rd, 2009, which means the calendar is paying tribute to a tremendous number and U2 is releasing an album in my honor… well, maybe that last part is a bit of coincidence.

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in honor of what is essentially a bright and wonderous flash on our calendar, i’m announcing something new – and having a sale! i would like to wish you all a very, incredibly happy square root (of nine) day. so, get on your boots and celebrate with me.

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game time

Posted in celebrity, commercial, photography, sports, story by Trey on February 26, 2009

several weeks ago, i mentioned a job the Dallas Stars hired me for & now that the finished product* is online & hitting mailboxes, i figured it was time to revisit the experience.

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fan shop paraphernalia | the great Razor Reaugh goes over his game notes as the players arrive.

over two different evenings, i was given an amazing level of access to the team & the building – which is something i can’t take any credit for. Colin & John, the two people who should be atop your “people i wish i knew at the Dallas Stars” list, did a tremendous job of making everything i asked for a reality. i was apparently the first photographer allowed up into the rafters (during play) in 5 years – for any sport. they got me into the locker room as the guys got ready. i practically stood on the bench for most of one period.

all of this allowed me to see and show the game in a really unique way and i walked away having learned a few things about a sport i love a ton.

follow the jump for more images.

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the way in

Posted in celebrity, inspiration, photography by Trey on February 11, 2009

“I’m more interested in a photography that is ‘unfinished’ – a photography that is suggestive and can trigger a conversation or dialogue. There are pictures that are closed, finished, to which there is no way in.”

– Paolo Pellegrin

I came across a truly brilliant portfolio of images that Paolo Pellegrin did for the New York Times. And when I say truly brilliant, I am not speaking in my typical tone of hyperbole.

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The images not only represent access – both physical access, into the homes and lives of these people, and emotional access, revealing the unfinished bits in the private worlds of public people – but the presentation that the NYT has used is outstanding – the images are big and nothing about the site distracts from the image. I particularly liked the insight that Lynn Hirschberg adds in the commentaries.

And then there’s the edit; this is the part of photography that really sets the great stuff apart from the rest. I have to think that for each of the 8 subjects there are dozens of breathtaking images and yet, they’ve found a way to pare down each story to its essence, leaving you completely satisfied with what you’ve experienced.

There are a few of my favorites after the jump.

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preparing for that moment

Posted in graduates, photography by Trey on February 4, 2009

“When I’m asked about my work, I try to explain that there is no mystery involved. It is work. But things happen all the time that are unexpected, uncontrolled, unexplainable, even magical. The work prepares you for that moment.”
— Annie Leibovitz
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lauren. denton, tx. 2009.

i mentioned lauren in a post from last week, but i was able to finish her photographs today so i thought i would circle back around to her for a few minutes. going back through the 730 or so images that we made in our two hours together, i was reminded of just how much fun she and her mom were – and how much fun i had during this session.

in a word, it never felt like work.

i walk that very fine line between over-preparedness and shooting from the hip. before our session, i played 201 questions with lauren. there’s a part of me that wants to know who i’m shooting, because i believe that great portraits convey who the person is. so, i ask questions and brainstorm ideas and look at magazines and tinker with processing techniques and on and on and on.

but, when it gets down to it, all the questions in the world don’t tell me who it is i’m shooting. and i’d be hard pressed to recall a single pose from a magazine when i’m trying to compose an image. but all that work, as Annie says, gets your brain ready for the unexpected – a blue staircase across the street or a used bookstore on the corner. i’m not sure either of those very unplanned moments could have happened without knowing a little about what makes lauren tick.

so, lucas family, thanks again – for the opportunity, the time and enduring all the questions.

on a related note, if you (or someone you love) are graduating this spring and want to speak with me about doing your portrait, please click the contact link on my website and send me a note. but brace yourself, because i’m going to ask a lot of questions while we wait for the magic to happen.

here are a few more of lauren that i love, because they were absolutely spontaneous ideas and involved (almost) no planning.

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my first marathon

Posted in personal by Trey on December 16, 2008

i had planned to write a big post about running in my first marathon. however, with the culmination of 18 months hard work so freshly behind me, i’m not sure i have the appropriate perspective on the experience. suffice it to say, at least for now, i finished. and it hurt like hell.

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me. crossing the finish line of the 2008 White Rock Marathon. photos by Brady Black

give me a couple weeks and i’m sure i’ll have something to say about it all; hopefully that something will be worthwhile.