William C. Hutton, Jr.
William C. Hutton, Jr. is a St. Louis-based photographer with the unique ability to tell a compelling story with his images. He has been at work since the 1970’s, creating a collection of photographs that he consolidates into series that are determined by where his creative interests lead him. In the time that he has been producing art, the world of photography has experienced massive shifts, which have increased the available subject matter for the photographer exponentially. This is most readily obvious when observing the shift in approach, content and materials between Edward Steichen’s monumental “Family of Man” exhibit (1955) and John Szarkowski’s groundbreaking “New Documents” exhibit (1967), both at the Museum of Modern Art. While “Family of Man” summated the best of documentary photography, in the time since its inception until its primacy as news reportage, “New Documents” revealed the potential of documentary photography to move beyond news reporting (video had largely replaced its importance) and suggested how each photographer might take a unique and expressive approach to the media. It is this later stage of street photography that Mr. Hutton, Jr.’s work fits into, with peers like Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus (all of the “New Documents” show) and more contemporarily, William Eggleston and Brian Ulrich. William Eggleston is an important artist to mention because it was he who broke open the use of color photography as a viable fine art format, and it was he who almost single-handedly challenged the established canon of acceptable subject matter. What’s remarkable about William C. Hutton, Jr.’s work is that he seems to have produced images that instinctively paralleled the shifts in photography almost as they were happening. Recently, William came into my radar, and I had the chance to conduct a short interview with him. Read it, and see more of Mr. Hutton. Jr.’s work, after the jump.
Hours of Idleness: What is your relationship with the arts?
William C. Hutton, Jr.: I enjoy sampling our human experience through the eyes of visual artists. I strive to create art, so viewing the work of others provides inspiration to follow my own path. Whenever I exhibit, I realize getting to know other artists is invaluable.
HOI: How long have you been photographing, and how did you get started?
WCH: I began photographing late in 1970 when my wife gave me a SLR for Christmas. I photographed my newborn son for his grandparents, as they lived far away. I soon realized I enjoyed photographing strangers, as well. Photography provided me with a creative outlet when I must have needed one. At that time I really didn’t think about photojournalism, art or developing a style… I just did what interested me at the time.
HOI: Do you have a general approach, in terms of gathering your aesthetic statement?
WCH: There are three aspects I consciously attempt to address. First, I want to leave a record of life and people during my time and place. Also, I would like a viewer to pause and reflect on the people in my photographs. My goal is to inspire viewers to imagine a ten-second, short story about the subject(s). And some of my work explores light’s form and shape as it creates shadows and reflections.
HOI: What do you see as photography’s role, in art; in life?
WCH: Here are two quotes that express my views on this question.
“An artist’s duty is to reflect the times.”- Nina Simone
“If you want to make photographs, all you do is point the camera at whatever you wish; click the shutter whenever you want. If you want to judge a good photograph, ask yourself: Is life like that? The answer must be yes and no, but mostly yes.”-Charles Hebutt
HOI: Who are some of your influences, or else, who are some artists that you admire?
WCH: My grandfather was a dedicated amateur, and no doubt, his love for photography rubbed off on me. My greatest influences have to be the photographers and photo editors of Life Magazine from the late 1950s through the mid 1960s. I’m sure I read every issue during that time.
I greatly admire the work of Garry Winogrand and William Eggleston. Brian Ulrich is a contemporary photographer I admire, but Sally Mann has to be the photographer I admire most.