Ross Hillier’s work embodies the soulful, free, and so often envied life of a wandering spirit. He was raised in Cape Town, and as a child learned to shoot a 35mm camera given to him by his father; his work shows that the inspiration and imagination never left him.
He’s not an easy person to catch up with, but when we did, he was happy to answer a few questions about his photography, life of travel, and appreciation for living in the present moment.
When traveling, what kind of photographs do you think most reflect the nature of the location?
The first thing that comes to mind are photographs of the people that live in that location. Every country will have a different effect on the people in every way. The type of weather will have an effect on the way they look and dress, the food they eat will effect their appearance, religion, and spiritual beliefs. All these aspects have a certain contribution to the way a person will appear to a traveler.
Where is home right now?
Cape Town as I write this, but this year home has been in India, Dubai, Zanzibar, and most of South Africa. It’s been a year of work and travel.
How do you use light to portray a desired mood in your images?
If I’m shooting in darkness or low light I use the flash to highlight certain areas of a subject in order for the viewer to see exactly what I want them to see. A mix of backlit ambient light with flash makes for an extremely dynamic and intriguing photograph.
How does the ocean inspire you?
The ocean is my biggest inspiration. It allows me to clear my mind and become a part of mother nature for as long as there are waves to catch.
As a drummer too, what do you love about both drumming and photography?
When I’m lighting a portrait or landscape I feel passionate and I’m completely focused on the outcome of the present moment. Nothing matters but getting an image that is perfectly lit and beautifully portrayed. Drumming is like meditation; it allows you to become one with the present moment and focus on a rhythm. Drumming is my escape from photography and photography is my escape from drumming:) Its a perfect combination.
See more from Ross Hillier on Corbis here.