Today we are pleased to feature the work of photographer Tim Hyde.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Originally from Iowa, I spent most of my professional life working politics and public affairs. I’ve lived in a number of places, but for many years have been a resident of the Washington, DC area. I have four daughters, two of whom are still in college.
How did you get started with photography?
I was always been interested in photography probably because my grandfather, surrogate father, was a photographer. I studied it as part of an American Studies curriculum in college, and more or less followed it as an important art medium over the years, but didn’t pick up a camera until about a dozen or fifteen years ago, almost by accident. I was surprised at how immediately and completely it took hold of my imagination. Nothing like it had ever happened to me before. In some important ways, nothing has been the same since.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
The photographers who speak to me most intensely, the ones I find most incisive, are entirely different from the photographers who have influenced my style as a photographer and the way I see things around me. That is not as odd as it sounds. I think I admire this group of photographers precisely because they offer a way of understanding and describing the world that I cannot: Masahisa Fukase’s, “Solitude of the Ravens”, Chris Killip’s, “In Flagrante”, Christer Strömholm’s, “Poste Restante” and all his wonderful progeny, all of Robert Frank’s work, and much of the early “Provoke” work.
In terms of artists who have influenced my own work as a photographer, certainly Edward Hopper is the one ring that rules them all. Stephen Shore has been hugely influential for me, especially his work in “Uncommon Places”. My early use of a 5×7 camera probably has something to do with that approach. Robert Adams is another, along with Joel Sternfeld and perhaps Robert Polidori. Among other lessons, Frank Gohlke helped me understand the importance of what exists just outside of the frame of a photograph.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
Daido Moriyama’s “Stray Dog.”
Please tell us about your process and what would be the perfect day for you.
Photographers must love this question. When traveling, I try to shoot early, before light, and continue through the early night hours. Ideally, I would stop mid-day and take a nap, or eat, or go to a show or something, but that doesn’t happen often enough because I’m usually driving or walking from one place to another.
Most of the time I have a subject or purpose in mind when I go out, or a “route” if I am traveling, but sometimes I just go. Often my original subject is displaced by something else. I shoot with different camera systems, but the Leica M is always on one shoulder, whatever else I’m shooting, or even if I’m not on a shoot. I carry a tripod for MF, which is most of the time.
I upload everything into one Lightroom folder each night, always, and do an initial pass-through to select those photographs that will get further processing. I try to choose and prepare at least one image for posting the following morning.
Unless it is a commission or a specific assignment, all the photographs go through a kind of funnel: Lightroom to Photoshop to Facebook to the photoblog and Twitter to printing to the gallery. I try to post one photograph each day somewhere online.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
Time. I deeply regret not getting serious about photography earlier and am constantly aware that I can’t work at this level and pace long enough to do what I want to do. Still, that is what keeps me working my ass off, so in some ways I’ve found it an advantage.
If you spend a day with another photographer living or passed who would it be?
Robert Frank, though if you ask me tomorrow it might be somebody else. I would have loved to watch Frank for one day during his 1956 trip around America.
How do you view this time in the history of photography?
I hear a lot of complaints about how hard it’s become to make a living as an artist, how difficult it is to find an audience. I’m not buying any of it. In fact, I think it has never been easier. The barriers to entry are . . . well, non-existent. It may be harder to make a living as a gallery owner—or other broker/intermediary—but nothing has changed for the artist except lowering of the craft thresholds with digital technology and vastly increasing the direct availability of audiences. It has ALWAYS been hard to make a living as an artist, and it still is, but finding audiences has become the hallmark of our age.
Of course, I’m talking about the fine-art photographer here. For commercial photographers of various sorts, life is much harder. Fine art photographers, though, have never had so many opportunities to show and distribute their work. Not even close.
Jennifer Schwartz founded a promising organization, Crusade for Art, that focuses on helping photographers find paying audiences for their work. I think she is right that our system is churning out an ever-increasing supply of fine-art photographers, with the various MFA programs, and all the grants, festivals, portfolio reviews, and so forth. More work needs to be done on the demand side, for sure. As the gallery system deteriorates, we need to foster new ways to find and encourage collectors.
How do you overcome a creative block?
We all encounter slack water at times, or lose our way for a bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a true block. I go out and take pictures almost every day. Some days I feel like I’m in a rhythm and, when processing, conclude that I’ve made real contributions (at least to my own understanding of things), and other days and nights result in uninteresting pictures, and occasionally nothing at all. I go out the next day all the same and the day after; over time these things all become part of the cycle.
What do you hope the viewer takes from your images?
I like to think I’m providing a bit of information–a small piece of the puzzle–that the viewer didn’t have before. I try to ask more questions in my photographs than impose answers, but the process I hope adds to what we know about our world.
Would you like to share a story about one of your images?
I used to shoot disasters. That was my first serious project, and first publications (NYT, Fraction Magazine, and others), and first print sales. I would just get on an airplane and go to Haiti or Japan or Galveston or wherever Mother Nature had most recently kicked the crap out of us and take pictures. Three years ago, I was shooting tornado damage in southern Indiana and took this photograph. It was a temporary homemade memorial cobbled together by neighbors where an entire family that had died in their mobile home two days before. It moved me unlike any of the other disaster scene in all the tragedy I had encountered. I was there all afternoon, waiting for the light, thinking about things, watching people from the area come to pay their respects and weep, and then all of a sudden I knew I was done, the entire project was over. I got in my car and dove back to Washington, wondering what the hell I was going to do next. I felt like Forrest Gump, though less heroic.
Thank you Tim for sharing your work and words with us.
To learn more about Tim Hyde please visit his site at, Tim Hyde.
Thank you to the photographers that share their work with us.
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3 thoughts on “Photographer Tim Hyde”
Thanks, as always, for sharing Tim Hyde’s work. I think it’s gorgeous and I wasn’t familiar with it before.
Thank you Fran.