Q&A: Todd Hido

7557 © Todd Hido

Todd Hido's website: www.toddhido.com

Todd Hido: Well firstly thank you for the interest in my work, I really appreciate it and it's nice to know that students are out there looking at it and that they are inspired by it. Much like I have been very inspired by a lot of different photographers when I was a student and still am today.

Mandie Lousier: How did you become interested in night photography?

Todd Hido: It sort of just happened. I was out shooting and I kept seeing things that I liked after it became dark and I just kept shooting and it worked. I think that I've always been much more focused at night and I am definitely a night person. It just naturally occurred that's when I was able to focus and that's when I was able to concentrate on things. Also, the thing about night that makes me the most interested is that there's a certain mystery to nighttime and there is a certain kind of quietness and a certain kind of solitude and mood that i am definitely curious about. I also really enjoy being out and looking around and driving around and finding things, that's sometimes that is lots of fun to me. Also there is a minimalism that happens at night. Obviously all the dark stuff kind of drops away and you have these big areas of niothing which is partially something that I am interested in. So, that is how that started. I have stumble onto all my bodies of work. I always prefer to discover thins over inventing them.

1447-a © Todd Hido

Mandie Lousier: What do you think the purpose is in showing people your work?

Todd Hido: Well, for me that's easy. I think that it's just a basic need that when I make something I want to share it with somebody.

Although, curiously, I do make lots of work no one ever sees. But much of what I make does get seen by people, mainly because I have a career of 20 years and I have books and shows and things like that. People are often asking me for new work, and luckily I make lots of it. I am obsessed. When I am done with this conversation I have to start working on this other book my publisher is interested in starting. I am very lucky because I have may outlets to show my work, but I remember back when I was a student, my main interest in showing my work was to just share it with people.

I think that making art is about sharing and it's something important to explore for younger artists. You need to find your audience and whoyou are interested in showing your work to. It could be as simple as you make it for a few friedns and for your own self-satisfaction. Which is really what the core reason needs to be that you make your work. I think ultimately that if people stopped showing my work tomorrow and nobody was interested in it I guarantee I would still make it, because it is something I am deeply invested in, it is something that I really enjoy seeing, it is something that makes me really satisfied. Standing back and looking at a print I made-- I love that. I love photography very much.

4313 © Todd Hido

Mandie Lousier: I am struggling staying with my photographic ambitions and where my work is headed. I also find it difficult to explain and talk about my work, trying to find a narrower path is proving a difficult task. What is your advice?

Todd Hido: First of all I would say that it's hard for anybody to talk about his or her work, me included. I've been doing this for twenty years and still I kind of find it difficult to talk about my pictures. I firmly believe your work should speak for itself in some ways and that you don't necessarily have to explain it. To me that's the most interesting kind of work. Art is obviously this extremely personal thing, but it's completely open and ambiguous it can be read on multiple levels.

As far as finding a more narrow path, or how you figure out what your work is about or where it is headed, I think for me basically what I've always done is shoot lots. I shoot night shots, I shoot daytime landscapes, I shoot portraits, I shoot nudes, I shoot with this 126 snapshot camera and I have all of these different kinds of things that I'm working on at the same time. For me I just sort it all out later. Creating and analyzing do not really go together. They are separate things. I think the shape and form of my work comes from editing really, if you looked at my contact sheets, the chronological order, my work is all over the map, literally.

2690 © Todd Hido

Todd Hido: I think you start by identifying something you really like and then you make something to go with it, you're kind of adding on and all of the sudden you have a handful of pictures that are that more narrow path. It is complicated to do and it takes time. I think it's one of those things where the harder you try the harder it is and sometimes things need to naturally occur. If you think about it too much it gets in the way.

I know it's hard in school because I teach as well. I think that art school is this wonderful but also super strange artificial construct. It does not really reflect the reality of the process of art making. First of all, all the best work is made over years and years of time. My House Hunting book for example--it took five, six, seven years at the least to make the images that went into that book. All of my other projects are at least three to four years long. It might seem like they just appear one after another but it doesn't work that way, I literally make my pictures one at a time in all different orders and then organize them later. If you are expected to have some fantastic thing by the end of the semester don't get yourself down if that's not happening because it's really hard to make fantastic work in three months. You have to keep going for it and look beyond school and beyond classes because ultimately it in the end isn't about those classes, it's about your desire to make what has meaning to you.

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