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.


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.




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, 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:


more after the jump

Denver & Ron

Posted in celebrity, photography by Trey on April 2, 2009

“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”

– Denver Moore


Denver & Ron

for the last 53 weeks, same kind of different as me has been on the NYT bestseller list (holding down the 12 spot at this writing). earlier today, i had the great privilege of making portraits of the book’s authors – Ron Hall & Denver Moore. their story is worth reading and i hope it changes the way you see (and live in) the world around you.

polaroid kids

Posted in kids, personal, photography, random by Trey on December 20, 2008



Posted in families, kids, photography by Trey on December 18, 2008

it’s commissioned portrait time & i’ve been going non-stop trying to get everything that’s been shot processed and delivered. the pace has been rather refreshing, actually. and it’s reminded me of a few things i love about what i do.

i fancy myself a portrait photographer first and foremost. it’s a remarkably difficult thing to make a portrait. i confess to failing to achieve what i set out to do on most occasions. when you’re working with adults, it’s quite difficult to get them to put down their guard and reveal something about themselves in an honest way. they’re always trying to dress it up for you. it’s not that way with kids. they don’t know they’re supposed to hide anything, to suck in or puff up.

more often than not, kids just are who they are.

meet oakley.


i first photographed oakley when he was only 6 weeks old (left) and again, a couple weeks ago (right). i love the honesty in his eyes in both these images. i love the way he seems to be waiting for an answer to a question he can’t quite ask yet.



Posted in kids, personal, photography by Trey on December 16, 2008


you can see the full gallery by clicking on the image above.

hockey season

Posted in celebrity, events by Trey on October 9, 2008

i am a hockey fan; anyone who knows me can attest to that. so, when i got a call a couple of weeks ago from the Dallas Stars about an event they had coming up, i got very excited.

Mike Ribeiro by Scott Mayo

with the hockey season already underway (the NHL started earlier this week with a couple games in Europe) and my beloved Dallas Stars opening their season tomorrow, the team wanted to thank the season ticket holders. every year they do an event and this year’s was held at the American Airlines Center.



Posted in kids by Trey on September 25, 2008

last year i did portraits of Noah for his first birthday and the session yielded one of my favorite images – the b&w image that marks the family gallery on my website.

noah, age 2.

you can see a couple more images from the session after the jump.