Alessia Glaviano did an interview with Todd Hido for Vogue Italia. Watch the video or read the interview below.
American Todd Hido (born in 1968) is one of the world's most highly acclaimed photographers. His photographs are part of the most important collections in the world (they are exhibited, among others, at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Whitney and Guggenheim museum in New York) and he can boast six monographs, several exhibitions and numerous prestigious awards.
I met Todd Hido at Micamera where he was setting up ?The Perfect Measure?, an exhibition developed specifically with the Milan exhibition space in mind, in which some of Hido's small prints ? of which same bear drawings by the artist himself ? engage in a dialogue with the illustrations of Emmy Award winner, Marina Luz.??Hido grew up in the suburbs of Kent, Ohio, a landscape that was going to have a strong influence on his art: ?It's curious to me that while I travel a lot to take photographs I almost always end up finding some place that reminds me of home?. ??He trained at the School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from which he received a B.F.A. followed by an M.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland. There, among his teachers was Larry Sultan, who was to become his mentor and with whom he developed a strong friendship.
Many aspects contribute to the artistic evolution of an artist: tenacity, a compulsive nature and perfectionism, but there are always also some aspects linked to randomness and instincts that you need to be able to recognize and pursue: "Sometimes you stumble into things?. It was indeed by chance that, while driving at night in the suburbs of the West Coast, Hido came across the first of what were to become his favourite subjects: isolated houses enshrouded in the dense darkness of humid nights, in which the human presence, though never explicit, bursts forth through lit up windows carrying deep significance.
Hido photographs houses but his are not architecture images; quite the contrary: speaking of his work, Larry Sulton said: ?You?re photographing homes, houses, but you?re work is all about relationships?. Such houses/homes are the protagonists of Hido's first monograph titled ?House Hunting?. A little masterpiece published in 2001, which has all the elements that make the artist's ?poetics? built upon the ambiguity and mystery ingrained in the living of which photography is, by its very nature, a privileged metaphor.
?What I like about photography is that it doesn't move and it doesn't speak and it's this place that's very profound that's in the middle of those two things and yet there's a lot there without it speaking or moving?. The limits intrinsic to photography become its strengths in Hido's images, which, masterfully suspended between a before and after, suggest the presence of a trauma whose unfolding is left to the viewer to imagine. ?One of the reasons that I don't title things or give them any specific meaning is that I feel like there is multiple meanings to photographs and that people can, you know, whatever somebody brings to a picture is what that meaning is. The meaning of the image resides in the viewer?.
After ?House Hunting?, Hido published 6 more monographs continuing to photograph isolated houses in night-time American suburbs but also interiors and landscapes while maintaining an always coherent aesthetics ? cinematic, lyrical and pictorial, even with portraits and nudes for which Hido prefers using subjects that are capable of playing different roles, such as models and actresses, often wearing the clothes and make-up of certain 50s movies.
I would define Todd Hido as the perfect mix of the so-called high and pop culture. Of the intellectual sphere, Hido has a deep knowledge of photography critique, of the history of the art and literature, while of pop culture he has the curiosity for mass media like cinema and TV.
All these elements contribute to shape Hido's vision who, as a matter of fact, cites, among his references, the likes of Mark Rothko, Larry Sultan and Nan Goldin but also Hitchcock and TV news. These are the external influences but Hido's photography comes from an authentic and intimate place, from something that is deeply meaningful to the artist and that pertains to his personal story and memories. ?I keep finding the same place no matter where I go? ? because in order to look at oneself inwards, one needs to look outside, both physically and metaphorically.
I believe that what distinguishes between good and mediocre photography is the extent to which it comes from a true inner need, how significant those images are for the photographer that shot them because it is such irrational, emotional significance that cannot be translated into language that allows the transfer with the viewer. It is for this very reason that Hido's images are capable of resonating deeply with different viewers.
Talking with Hido, I was struck by his ability to expand on and convey complex matters with extreme clarity, qualities that are not a given in people who tend to express themselves mostly thorough a visual medium. ??His analytical side, however, does not blemish his photography in any way; in fact, his art never falls prey to becoming a mere process, a clever exercise: "It's better to shoot without thinking, be free, then you think about it after". The freedom Hido allows himself while shooting is balanced out by a discipline of steel during the editing process. These two qualities make of Hido an excellent teacher. Speaking of which, we conclude our conversation with a few tips for those approaching photography.
?My best advice to students would be to be very particular in demanding about editing their own photographs. And I'm not talking about editing photoshop: I'm talking about editing in the old way of editing. Picking and selecting the best pictures and letting go of the ones that aren't so good [?]?.
Then Hido continues: ?In sequencing, you know, repetition is your enemy and your friend because you need to have kind of a consistency with your work so that it makes sense together but then if it's too consistent and too much the same then it just becomes repetitive and boring and there's a line somewhere in there and you need to be on that, and be very aware of that, I think, when you're making a body of work and putting images together?.