Our Mr. Hilton, no relation to the hotels, used to reside in Towson, MD, where at 16 years old he picked up a Mamiya camera in 1968. Shortly there after, an old school Nikkormat SLR was his first “really nice” 35mm camera.
David used to develop everything his own until his business started to take off.
Business was good. Shooting 20 people a week for modeling agencies he started taking his film processing to labs.
After shooting the Nikkormat for years, he wanted a better camera, “did as much research as you could do back then” settled on the Nikon F, shot with that for years and remains a loyal “Nikon person,” today armed with his trusty Nikon D90.
Having shot as a pro 4-5 years before marriage, complete with a studio on York Road located in Towson Center, 6-8 months into wedded bliss, David stopped the pro stuff and just did personal family shots for next 20 years or so.
Self described as the “least technically oriented photographer you will meet,” David usually shoots Manual Mode, unless he uses Aperture Preferred Mode when shooting wide open.
“In 35 mm Manual is what you’re used to.”
Being an old 35mm film guy myself, I get it. I almost always shoot manual myself. Helps me get the skin exposures right.
“Metering always on the money from what camera says it is, sometimes only issue is focus in low light, otherwise wonderful.”
His lenses are the Nikon 35mm F 1.8 and the 18-105mm F 3.5-5.6 zoom that came with the camera.
He usually uses his zoom all the way wide, as in wide-angle.
He is though starting to do some product and fashion work.
For first time ever, David is getting together a team of makeup and styling artists.
These days, since divorce, did I mention he is divorced… yes…
“I moved into condo and again have a studio.
People know me for outdoor location shooting. I’m now moving that knowledge into studio.
With a hardwood floor in his living room studio, David is doing a bunch of TF.
“I’m proud to say I have a really clean reputation with models.”
Usually hosting traveling models, ‘trade for couch,’ provides David with really good opportunities to shoot with really great models.
Few years ago David was relatively inexperienced since he hadn’t shot for 20 years.
As he gained experience and,
“got good, and people started to recognize my name, I get 4-5 shoot requests every day, and I shoot like 2 a month.
The ones I shoot are the … I’m looking for certain types.
I want someone who isn’t necessarily ‘beautiful’, but has something going on inside.”
When shooting outside, David usually shoots wide to include environment and thus gets full body shots.
In studio shooting he is getting more 3/4 shots.
He still has only limited studio lights having just bought a boom.
What’s he got?
- Two AlienBees ( AB ) a 400 and an 800
- a white translucent umbrella
- a beauty dish
- some grids for the standard AB reflector
David’s photography was helped a year and a half ago when he developed a relationship with a muse with whom he shot “40 times.”
Who is was this wonderful muse?
Traveling model, Katlyn Lacoste.
“Strongest model you will ever meet.
Does a lot of strength poses, standing on her toes alone.
Very aware of hands and feet body positions…
Never ceases to amaze me.”
There are some excellent shots of Katlyn here, including the nude on the New Jersey Boardwalk and the contorted grunge shot in the abandoned industrial site.
Divorced 6 years ago, David started shooting again within couple months after separation. Yay!
Girl Standing on tub, Kami from PA,
Katlyn in mask on boardwalk in ocean city.
To find a location, David will
“Look for ‘No Trespassing signs.’
Shoot where you are not supposed to be and get the h… out.”
Ginger Pixie from SC, attending MICA Maryland Institute of College Art is shot here hanging from a green house.
When David met Ginger, she had
“5 pix in port that friend had taken.
I approached this was second shoot .. close as I got to getting beat up, for anything I did, was on somebody’s farm, shot 10-20 pics before somebody came and was screaming was calling the police on us.
Ginger had a little dance background, used to be in circus, can swallow fire, and walk on stilts.
We looked at the green house, started batting around ideas.
I said can you hang from there?
She said yeah, I can do that, and we shot for 5 mins, walked back to car and she was getting changed, and we didn’t get a chance to do any more after that.
So that’s all we did was the 20 pictures and was about as good as could have gotten there… “
Girl in shower with the wet dress is Lovely Little Creature.
David met her at an event where he was a guest speaker. She was at the workshop and needed a ride to Allentown, PA..
This shoot was done as part of a trade for ride. David got a room at the ALOFT Hotel.
“Cheap version of W hotel.
Liked that the shower had frosted glass wall.
My flash was on the other side of glass.
Was at night, like the diffused light.
The shot of Katlyn in the abandoned factory in Pennsylvania,
“Good one to see her strength.
We just came up with things we wanted to do together.
She said we need to get a couple of things.
‘Need to get motor oil, I want to be filthy and dirty and completely part of the environment.’
Often not even looking at the camera, below freezing in there, 1 1/2 hours.
‘Lets keep going lets keep going,”
She says, she doesn’t what to break the momentum.
The place is filthy.
Rolling in the dirt to get the dirt into her, said
‘Now am ready.’
Got into place with platforms and machines, and standing against the corrugated metal, and said,
‘I want to try something.’
And bang it was there.
Something works and there is, the moment.
For me the thing is capturing the moment.
A second or two later wouldn’t have had the extension there.
Katlyn just wants to make a good picture, which is what I’m about too.
Which is why we are collaborators.”
I asked David about the Board Walk shot…
“I find locations using google maps.”
Looking up and down board walk, near bottom end where things are, this was the happening end.
It was March.
A Freaky warm day in March, though we planned weeks ahead.
Waiting for sunrise after a 3 half hour drive to get there…
‘You know what? I’m just not feeling it…’
We talked a 1/2 hour.
Let’s just humor me?
Let’s just try a few shots… not this one.
‘Okay, now I,m in a better mood, she says..’
We had idea to do with a mask. She had bought the mask to try,
It was 9 AM, off-season, no body there.
We walked, completely clothed, we planned where she was going to be, where I was going to be.
Then sit and watch, and see the activity, then see, and go…
Katlyn and I run out there.
Done in 30 seconds.
I know where I’m going to be; and, she knows where she,s going and did the shots we wanted to do.
Some municipal workers came by saying,
‘What are you doing?!!
And, Katlyn ran and put on her dress and laughed.
It turned from really lousy morning to really great shoot.”
David does very little Photoshop, “I work in Lightroom.”
Hoping to print and sell some of his fine art nudes, David will soon be launching a web site to facilitate this purpose.
Revenues are also flowing at about $100 per hour from gigs paid for by models looking to shine up their portfolios.
“Especially the paying ones are challenging cause you are doing what they want you do.”
Thanks David for sharing.
To see more of David’s work, click here.
Images © David Hilton
For a listing of Photographers Profiled on GlamourPhotography.co, click here.