DPP Home Profiles Phil Hawkins: Patience And Persistence

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Phil Hawkins: Patience And Persistence

Phil Hawkins is a multifaceted, modern-day professional photographer, working the local area for all it’s worth while producing his own fine-art nature imagery

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Photographer Phil Hawkins is capable of working a variety of subject matter, from portraiture at the local level to sweeping fine-art vistas of Yosemite to finely detailed panoramics of cityscapes. Taken from Golden Gate State Park in Marin County, Hawkins arrived in heavy fog, not expecting to get much; as dusk approached, the fog lifted, but only just above the towers. The golden light reflected off the low clouds and created this double-orange glow.

Phil Hawkins has taken the potential of modern digital photography and run with it. He pursues business on the regional level as a portraitist in many of its myriad forms, from headshots to family group shots to wedding photography. As an events photographer, Hawkins works for local schools, commerce and other entities, shooting high-school and college sports, motocross, NFL football and any other number of area happenings. He even does equine photography and works frequently as a photojournalist. All of this work helps to subsidize the time he spends making his glorious landscape photography, which also serves as a great side business through selling prints and teaching workshops.

Tyler Hansbrough of UNC shoots through a double-team defense. “I shoot around 900 images per game when shooting basketball, and around 50 are keepers,” laughs Hawkins.
You might think that he has ADD, but to say that a modern-day photographer should be limited somehow as a portrait photographer, or an event photographer or a fine-art photographer, belies a fundamental misunderstanding of the potential of digital. In reality, Hawkins has fashioned a comfortable lifestyle and a healthy career out of all the things that interest him, evident in the range of his abilities.

“I enjoy so many different photographic disciplines,” he says, “that it’s hard to nail down that I am, by definition, a certain kind of photographer. A cool shot is a cool shot. To a degree, I’m influenced by the economic opportunities that might be out there. So I try not to strictly define myself exclusively as this or that kind of photographer. I shoot what I enjoy and try to maximize any financial opportunity that might be available in each discipline.

“That’s the thing about photography,” he points out. “There are so many different routes to pursue. I love taking portraits and weddings—getting the emotions out of someone and capturing it in a photo is very enjoyable. I also love sports photography, and basketball in particular. It’s very challenging and exciting. Being a basketball referee for 14 years, I know the sport. Bull riding and rodeo is just fun to shoot. I enjoy equine, too. I like to ride, and horses are magnificent creatures and make for incredible subjects. I enjoy shooting people’s interaction with horses. It’s a tremendous connection people have with them, and capturing that in images is very enjoyable. Editorial is very exciting and very challenging. An event happens only once, and capturing the event while making sure to do it in a creative, yet informative way is a thrill.”

Adds Hawkins, “Studio and portraiture photography is interactive by its nature. Connecting with your subject is indispensable if you’re to succeed in capturing the essence of that person’s personality. Getting a portrait subject to relax and gaining their trust is the most important and hardest job of any portrait photographer. I’m most known for my landscape images, and I make a substantial portion of my income from that, but you need to be able to go in a lot of different directions if you’re to maximize your opportunities financially.”


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