Artist Interview - Portland Photographer - Jessica Hill
A talented photographer and savvy business woman, Jessica Hill caters to her clients with grace and skill, and teaches other photographers how to run sustainable businesses that make them happy. As a good friend for many years, I recently had a chance to interview her as a professional. Read on and see why she is one of the most sought after photographers in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s good to have this time with you. Whenever we catch up you’re always up to something smart and new, so what’s going on this time?
Things have been pretty anxious in the world overall with Covid & the event industry has been hit hard as it was the first to close and the last to open. The people I am working with are wonderful and I am helping them reschedule so they can get married as soon as this crisis is over. We’re moving a lot of dates from now until 2021. In the meantime, I am building out my photography education platform, and filling lots of print & album orders from work I’ve done previously. I also had a successful month of socially distanced porch photos, with proceeds going to the Oregon Food Bank. It felt so good to be shooting again!
I know you’ve been a professional photographer for a long time, when did you start and what led you to this career.
Almost 20 years ago I was attending the University of Michigan for fine art and working at a fine-dining restaurant. One of my customers set a beautiful Leica M6 on the table and I noticed it. We chatted about photography and he passed me his card and said if I ever wanted to photograph weddings he would hire me as a second shooter. My first job as a wedding photographer was in 2002… From there it took off and I’ve been photographing weddings ever since!
What is your approach to wedding photography? How do you create a relationship with your client and how do you prepare for the wedding day?
Connection and relationships are so important, and my goal as a photographer is to create photos for them that really feel like “them” without compromising my vibrant & timeless aesthetic. I get to know them during the engagement session and the in-person viewing and often suggest that we photograph their engagements at a meaningful location to them like their first date spot or their favorite neighborhood bar. This organically provokes meaningful conversations and allows for a deeper connection and less vulnerability with me and the camera.
Blair: Portland is a fun place with a personality all it’s own. Where are a couple of your favorite places to shoot around town?
Jessica: I absolutely love the city and the energy that it has. I’m inspired by the older architecture in downtown, especially the rooftops at sunset. I love the bridges and a favorite is the St. John’s Bridge at Cathedral Park. Portland is also so great because it’s an hour from the mountain or the ocean so I feel very lucky to be able to photograph both quite a bit!
What keeps you motivated now and who inspires you? Any musician, artists, or mentors that come to mind?
I’m motivated by my family for sure. I am raising my son to follow his dreams. As a working artist I’m always motivated to continue shooting, working, and being inspired even during these unknown times. I’m currently listening to Khruangbin, TV on the Radio, and so many more. The necessary Black Lives Matter movement has given a much needed voice for black artists and I’ve been following the amazing protest photography of Michael Noble Jr. and Moments by Mariah. Go follow them! Gordon Parks, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Sally Mann are legends as well and have inspired me for decades!
When this is all over, other than shooting weddings what are you looking forward to doing again?
I’m so looking forward to going to restaurants with friends again and doing yoga in a studio. I’m really starting to miss being busy shooting weddings and can’t wait to photograph a packed dance floor again!
Thank you so much Jessica. Sending you lots of love during these challenging times. Keep up your amazing work and keep sending us your photos!
To see Jessica's amazing work and book her for your wedding visit https://jessicahillphotography.com/.