Today I wanted to change things up a bit and shed a little light on one of the most important people I get to work with here at Happily Grey- Mr. John Hillin.
It’s hard to imagine how this site or brand would have turned out had our paths not crossed. From the start we connected creatively, both driven by the same passion and desire to shoot beautiful fashion imagery, travel, explore, and grow our skill set along the way.
John’s talent and ability behind the camera amazes me. He is both consistent and spontaneous at once. His use of light inspires me. His goofy approach puts me at ease. His photographs are full of quiet energy and playful element that I admire.
I feel so lucky to have him as a collaborator, but am even more thankful for our dear friendship that has grown so over these past few years. I consider him family in a way, and that is all you can hope for in your work partnerships!
Rather than gush about him endlessly, I thought it would be fun to share a quick Q&A with you.
JH: Hi Y’all!
MS: FORMAL EDUCATION?
JH: Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.
MS: GEAR SETUP?
JH: We’ve used a few different setups over the years . . . but they always include a Canon camera body, and a Sigma 50mm lens. Currently I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii, we’ve started introducing a Sigma 35mm lens more often. Most of our images are edited with Adobe Lightroom, but if we’re editing on the fly, I love using VSCO on my phone! My favorite filters are A6, A8, HB2, J1, and S2.
MS: FIRST IMPRESSION OF MARY?
JH: FUN! The first time we met was actually on a video shoot, and she kept me laughing the whole time! We became friends instantly!
MS: BEST PROJECT YOU TWO HAVE WORKED ON?
JH: Every project. There hasn’t been a bad one yet. We’ve worked together in several different cities, and countries . . . but my favorite was here at home. We partnered with Urban Outfitters last fall to shoot around Nashville in lakes, fields, local coffee shops, and on downtown rooftops! We shot all day, and then stayed up all night without sleep editing photos until the sun came up! It’s sleepless nights like these that the best and funniest memories are made!
MS: HOW HAS YOUR SHOOTING STYLE EVOLVED SINCE STARTING WITH HG?
JH:When I started shooting for Happily Grey almost four years ago, I loved a lot of color and light in my images. It’s fun to look back through our Instagrams and see old photos because both of us have evolved and developed new styles over the years. Today we both prefer less color and more emphasis on dramatic lighting.
MS:QUICK TRICK FOR IMPROVING IMAGERY?
JH: Don’t always look through the camera when you take photos! A lot of my favorite images are taken way above my head, or next to my feet, without looking through the view finder.
MS: JOHN HILLIN SIGNATURE MOVE?
JH: Haha . . . My favorite move is to make my model laugh, and then I snap photos without them knowing. It always produces the most genuine images. I also love to break into a dance move while shooting!
MS: HOW TO- THE SHOE SHOT?!
JH: The shoe shot is super fun! All you have to do is find some great texture on the ground for your model to stand on, look for cool light, shoot laying down with the camera level with the shoes, and ask your model to dance, jump, or spin!
MS:BE HONEST- LEAST FAVORITE LOOK?
JH: Haha… Absolute worst look Mary ever styled was for her first London Fashion Week Topshop show. She wore a shaggy red / brown faux fur, with a black and white plaid pant, and white leather shoes. This one is worth going back into the archives to see!
MS: DIY- THE JUMP SHOT?
JH: The “jump shot” takes many years of practice to perfect. Mary and I have spent countless hours practicing this one . . . But for real, its all luck! She jumps and I shoot as many photos as I can while she is mid-air! Good luck!
MS: OTIS AND ALLIE- JUST FRIENDS OR MORE TO THE STORY?
JH: Otis and Allie are absolutely more than “just friends”. Total kindred spirits! Otis, my great dane, has always gone for older women, just like his daddy! Great Danes are something Mary and I had in common from the start! I cant imagine a world without Otis or Allie! We like to take them to the park so they can play together as much as possible!
MS: FAVORITE LOCATION- NASHVILLE, IN THE STATES, IN THE WORLD?
JH: My favorite location Mary and I have ever shot in would be Positano, Italy! We shot underwater off the side of the boat on our way to Capri!!! Santorini, Greece is a very close second!
MS: BEST THING ABOUT WORKING WITH MARY?
JH:There is just something about Mary that makes working fun! She knows how to have a good time, and we like to laugh a lot while we are shooting!
MS: SOMETHING SHE DOESN’T WANT US TO KNOW . . .?
JH: Mary can eat A LOT of mexican food! One time while we were Portugal, she ordered a burrito, nachos, queso and tacos!
MS: WHAT’S IN THE WORKS?
JH: I have had such a fun year shooting with Banana Republic, and I am currently shooting with some other amazing brands, like FRYE and Infinity! I’m so excited for the future, working with Happily Grey and beyond! I’m currently working on some personal projects in studio that I can’t wait to share soon! Stay tuned . . .
MS: JOHN HILLIN’S DREAM JOB?
My dream job is doing exactly what I am doing now! I love what I do.
For more of John’s incredibly imagery and loads of his witty banter, follow his Instagram here.
Loads of thanks to John- for this interview, for these beautiful images, for your friendship, your time and energy, for sharing your talent with me, and for putting up with me for all these years!