A shot from one of the most dangerous places on Earth – an interview with Spotlight Awards Winner Tim Hulme
By Anna Spasova
South Africa-based photographer Tim Hulme has won the Fashion Photography category in our Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence this year. Read the interview with the photographer to learn more about the winning image and Tim’s work in general.
Production Paradise: Tell us about the winning image – the idea behind it, how was it shot?
Tim Hulme: Downtown Johannesburg is one of the most dangerous places on the planet. It’s a melting pot of cultures from all over Africa. There’s an energy that can’t be explained. It is dangerous and beautiful and energetic and inspiring and scary all at the same time. If you can harness some of that energy, often the results are special. I wanted to take a foreign African and take her into this environment and make her look completely alien.
Production Paradise: How would you describe your style?
Tim Hulme: I guess your style is a culmination of everything you’ve experienced, everything you’ve read, it’s your perspective on the world. I’d like to think my style is real, but I’ll let you be the judge. Nothing gives me more joy than watching people react to one of my shots.
Production Paradise: How did you end up behind the lens? Tell us about your career path.
Tim Hulme: I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was a kid, strangely enough, I never considered being a photographer, but I always just took photos. It didn’t take long after I dropped out from my finance degree for people to start offering to pay me to take photos. That was 15 years ago now.
Production Paradise: What do you think is necessary to become a successful commercial photographer?
Tim Hulme: How long do I have? Haha, it’s not easy, and most people that try fail, but the rewards can be incredible. You have to find a balance between keeping your voice, retaining your style, and delivering what the clients are looking for. There are times when you have to sell your soul, but then it really needs to give you the financial freedom to explore your creativity in your own time. The perfect world is where you have a name for yourself, and the commercial clients want you to explore your creativity in their campaigns.
Also, take more photos. Your camera should be around your neck every day. Never forget that excitement you got the first time you took a photo.
Production Paradise: We believe you are not resting on your laurels – what are you working on now?
Tim Hulme: No photographers, no visual artists for that matter, can rest on their laurels in this day and age. You can be the ‘it’ photographer one month, and be forgotten the next. A lot of the older photographers the generation before me were caught out by this and found out too late that they had been left behind. A lot of the great photographers from the 90’s and early 2000’s are ‘starving’ and trying desperately to catch up.
I’ve got some really cool projects we are working on at the moment! I’ve done a series of portraits of bartenders in New York that I really love, I’ve directed and shot my first TV commercial in Lesotho, I worked with the incredible Nigerian Artist Laolu on a Belvedere project, I did an amazing editorial shoot with Miss Universe on the streets of Manhattan, and I am heading to Kenya next week to shoot the Maasai. I have two other projects I want to shoot in Johannesburg, but they might have to wait till after the end of year rush!
Production Paradise: The Spotlight awards had a judge’s panel composed of potential clients for commercial photographers – did that influence your choice of image(s) selected for your entry?
Tim Hulme: I think a lot of clients and creative directors look at a photographers personal work first when they look through a portfolio. To really get the best from a photographer they have to believe in what they are shooting. I could have entered a big beautiful glossy campaign with huge production value, but it is not as true to me as a personal project like this one.
Production Paradise: What made you want to participate in these Awards?
Tim Hulme: I’ve always thought very highly of Production Paradise, and we’re considering emigrating at the moment, so I am trying to increase my exposure on an international stage. I guess I really should update my website in that case, it’s from December 2014.
But Hey! This is not everything… Production Paradise will feature more of Tim’s work in upcoming issues of Spotlight Fashion Photography and Showcase South Africa. Don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletters for more exciting publications!