An Interview with Hiram Trillo April 13 2015, 0 Comments
When I was 22 years old I came out with my first editing software, Life. Camera. Actions. Before I had even told anyone about the website, a photographer by the name of Hiram Trillo contacted me and said he thought it looked cool and that he would be interested in writing a review of it for a company called Photobiz. I checked out his work and was really blown away with what I saw. I sent him one of the first ever copies of LCA and had the chance to briefly meet him at WPPI. A few months later I was photographing a wedding in Dallas, Texas and Hiram offered to let me stay at his house. I hadn't known such kindness from someone who was basically a stranger and didn't want to intrude so we met up for dinner instead. He was telling me about a workshop he was planning on doing in Mexico and I told him that I thought it would be fun to go down and hang out. After we spoke more about it, Hiram asked me if I would like to be one of the instructors. I was completely humbled an honored and jumped on the opportunity. For me, it was a turning point in my life and my career because I had never had the chance to teach photography. Hiram and I have since taught workshops all over the world and I am forever grateful for what he did for me. He is genuinely like a brother to me and I am honored to call him my friend.
Aside from being an outstanding person, Hiram is also one of the best damn photographers on the planet. His work is constantly evolving and his images blow me away on a regular basis. I hope you enjoy this interview with him and strongly encourage you to follow his work or attend one of his workshops if you ever get the chance!
So tell us a little about yourself, Hiram! Where are you from, what type of photography do you specialize in, and how would you define your style?
-I was born in Camargo, Chihuahua Mexico on a moonlit night of September on the year 1977. It was like most nights, but this night would be one that lived in infamy….JK but I was, born in Mexico, but now live in Fort Worth, TX with my family.
-I am a wedding photographer and as to defining my style, that’s a hard one. The best way and what I most liked was what a client said to me a few years ago “We loved you because all your weddings look different. They are shot and represent the couple, we liked that your style was no style at all.” So I guess that is it, I love to focus and use my clients for inspiration so that the imagery is for them.
How long have you been doing this professionally?
- I have been shooting for about 20 yrs now. Professionally I have no idea, it depends on how people define it. My first wedding that I charged was in May of 2009, but I had shot a few weddings before that.
Was there a defining moment when you decided you wanted to be a photographer for a living?
-I shot a friends wedding and loved everything about it. Then I decided to become a wedding photographer after my own wedding when our photographer basically lied to us about how long she had been shooting, how many weddings she had shot, and the work that she delivered was not at all what was expected from a “professional” I made the choice to not let another couple go through that and dove in head first.
What did you do before you were a photographer?
-I was a first grade teacher.
What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?
-That I am trusted with such a special task. I get to capture life as it happens on one of the most amazing days of a persons life. That where I got my hashtag and use it constantly #LifeIsWorthCapturing
What are some challenges and benefits to having a home studio?
-Challenges are that many people think that because you don’t have an office or a studio you do not deliver high quality work, or that you are not professional enough.
-Benefits, the overhead of having a studio/office is minimal and with that I can control my pricing, what clients I want to work with, and give personal attention to each an every one of the. I only shoot 24 weddings a year and love that I have that control. If I had an office I would have to increase the amount of work I would take on to offset the cost of overhead.
How has starting a family changed your photography or your business?
-You can see a very dramatic change in my “style” of imagery from where I first started. At the beginning I was very technical, and had ton’s of gear. After I got married I became softer and with practice I didn’t have to be as technical since it just became natural. After the birth of my kids my eye and heart became one. I became even more stingy with my shots and looked for moments that would define that person. I began to look at life as instants and those instants as memories. I became a collector of memories, a follower of dreams, a keeper of time if you will. I chase them to wanted to freeze them with every snap of my shutter.
You’ve photographed weddings and taught workshops all over the world and won some very impressive awards like the WPPI Grand Award but what has been the highlight of your career so far?
-The day my wife and kids sat in for the first time on one of my presentations. To see them there supporting me and to see their faces is beyond words. I do what I do not for awards of recognition, but for my family and clients. I have been lucky enough like you said to win some awards, but to be honest all the credit goes to my clients who trusted me enough to let me capture them as they truly are simple and beautiful.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened in your career?
-I put on a few pounds (baby weight), and halfway through a wedding as I was laying down on the ground I heard a terrible sound coming from my backside…I knew right then that my pants had literally disintegrated. So had to finish the family portraits with my suit jacket tied around my waist, then headed straight to the closest mall to buy a new pair of slacks. One thing that I learned from all that, make sure you wear same color underwear as your slacks J
If you could only show one image to a potential client, which one would you choose and why?
-That is a hard one. I don’t have one single image that I can say that is my favorite, especially since I look for images to represent each of my clients wedding. So I am going to cheat, I would make a collage of images to show :)
Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
-I get inspiration from my clients. I get to know them very well to better understand them. Once I do that I just let them be them and I direct them when necessary.
You and I have been lucky enough to teach photography workshops all over the world together. What workshop has been the most memorable and why?
-Yes, yes we have. I have loved everyone of them put one that comes to mind would be our first Casa Noble workshop. It was the first time I think that people recognized who we were and it was such a small group in such an amazing area that we all got to share with each other. It was when we were expecting our daughter, and the images we captured are still blowing my mind and have seen many of them inspire others (levitation, light painting, and those agave fields)
You are well known for your high fashion style of off-camera-flash. What is the most common mistake you see photographers make when learning OCF?
-They think that equipment defines how good you are. They develop EAS (Equipment Acquisition Syndrome) and try to buy the latest and “greatest” Light is light no matter where is coming from. Yes expensive equipment will give you a few extras but focus on developing your craft and learning how light works before spending the money and not knowing how to use the tools you have. Practice!
Aside from the photos you take, what is it that sets you apart from your competition both in your business and your personality?
-I see my clients as people and not as dollar signs. I would rather have a life time client where I capture them through out their life than to charge them an arm and a leg and never see them again. Also I let them inspire me, I don’t look through wedding magazines for the latest trends. Trends die, great photographs do not. I always like to shoot with the next generation in mind.
You’ve had the opportunity to photograph weddings all over the world. How do you market your destination wedding photography?
-I wish I knew, and when I find out I will write a book and become the next Richard Branson. I actually started backwards, started booking more international weddings than local, how I just wanted to travel and when the opportunity came up we took it.
What has been the coolest destination you have photographed a wedding? What is your dream destination for a wedding?
-I have several, but Spain was amazing and my grand award image came from that wedding. I think its because it was the first wedding I shot how I currently shoot now. I was married and our first child had been born so my eyes were wide open.
What are some of your goals for 2015 and beyond?
-Well I just started Trillo & Son Leather Co. and is doing better than I expected, especially since I have not done a full launch and we have clients all over the world already. I love working with my hands and this is another venture that helps me express my artisan side. (Shameless plug)
-Also I want to keep traveling with my family to show my children that the world is a great place and that we should not take it fro granted.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a photography business, what would it be?
-Be true! Do not lie to your clients, practice your craft and give them more than they are expecting. I live my life according to this quote from one of my favorite films “The Grey”
“Once more into the fray…
Into the last fight I’ll ever know…
Live or die on this day…
Live of die on this day.”
It’s such a powerful poem and helps to remind me that you must fight everyday for what you want.
Can you share with us 10 of your favorite images?
Hiram Trillo is a professional wedding, fashion, and lifestyle photographer based out of Fort Worth, Texas. He is known for his epic use of off-camera flash and ability to capture beautiful photojournalistic moments. Hiram has taught photography workshops and photographed weddings all over the world and is the recipient of numerous awards for his work. He was also named one of Rangefinder Magazine's 30 Rising Stars in 2013.
In addition to his photography, Hiram also owns Trillo and Son Leather Co and creates handmade leather camera straps, belts, and wallets.
See more of Hiram's inspirational photography at www.hiramtrillo.com
Hiram also does something called "Moving Images" which will blow your mind. Watch the video below to see what I mean!