Giles Hugo – Featured IPA member

I always loved art. My mother, an architect and fine portrait artist, took me sketching, learning composition and colour theory. She also had a collection of books with large colour plates — including Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Lautrec, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Modigliani, Michelangelo, Cezanne and Goya. I spent hours just gazing — and not just at the nudes — a great source of wonder.

Photography began for me in 1968, when I was 18, shooting with a Canon range-finder, mostly B&W and occasional slide film, when affordable.  I am entirely self-taught, having learnt from reading photo mags, initially faithfully making notes of speed and ƒ stop for each exposure, experimentation and decades of journalism, mostly shooting performers, artists and writers.

In the macro realm I seek abstracted beauty in colours, tones, fractalising forms and the organic, fluid joys of light playing on various surfaces… and water. At macro level — 1:1 or closer — light seems to behave in unforeseen ways, both extending and confusing visual perceptions. ‘But what is it?’ people ask when confronted with one of these images. Often I prefer not to answer.

In portraiture, rock gigs and street shooting, I hunt the unforeseen, the unknowable — sometimes briefly glimpsed in the eyes, and ‘narrative moments’, like movie stills.

Digital since 2005. Gear: Olympus OM-D/E-M5 and Lumix GH-2; lenses ancient and modern by Leica, Canon, Olympus, Voigtlander, Lumix, Vivitar and Zenit. About 95% of my shots are natural light; occasionally I bounce flash for macro. PS processing is limited to tweaking exposure, levels or curves, colour temperature and saturation, brightness, contrast, sharpness, cropping.

I do not do: HDR, image stacking, layering, cloning in or out, or selective treatments of portions of a picture. Each image is just one exposure, as I saw it when I pressed the shutter

I use titles that are allusive and suggestive, adding to the image, not just descriptive. What is the point of just calling an image ‘Egg Plant’,  ‘Untitled No. 327’ or ‘Nude No. 7’?

The most important things I have learnt:

  • Anticipation: Learn from the behaviour of people, insects or birds to expect their next move. Often I shoot with manual focus and exposure to nail a shot fast in ‘available darkness’.
  • The ‘best lens’ is the one on your camera when a picture presents.
  • When shooting rock, I often go twice to a gig, because as soon as my eye is on the viewfinder, I simply do not hear.

I had my first solo exhibition at the Nolan Gallery, Hobart, from June to September 2015. Beyond expectations, I sold about two dozen pictures from A1 to A3. My principal ongoing project is my Black Dog series, using photographic rituals to help keep depression at bay while examining the condition.

LINKS: • Coverage in the Tasmanian Times in June of my exhibition launch, include artist Terry O’Malley’s launch speech:

An intro and thumbnails of my 15 exhibition pieces:

My bio at the Nolan Gallery:

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