Hylton Boucher recently graduated from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography where he completed a BA degree, majoring in photography. He filled us in on his journey so far and his plans going forward.
How and why did you become interested in photography?
I first became interested in photography in 2008 after viewing the photographs of Leigh Daniz, a photographer who lives in Windhoek, Namibia, where I grew up. She captured soulful and energetic moments of the local rock ‘n roll and metal scene. Those photographs sparked something in me and soon I was photographing every gig I could. I was very much an introvert before I started taking photographs, and photography provided a new path for me, one which inspired confidence and creativity, and which has led me to some pretty amazing opportunities.
What has your experience as a student been like? What valuable lessons did you learn along the way?
The last three years of my life have been the best. Living in Stellenbosch has been a treat, and I’ve befriended people I’ll never forget, and learned life lessons I’ll never forget either. Obviously there were struggles, just ask any student of the arts. However, the good times far outweighed those. I achieved many personal goals, yet one of the best experiences was collaboratively photographing Andrew Putter’s project ‘Native Work’, exhibited at the Stevenson Galleries and selected to represent South Africa at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Don’t be overconfident, don’t over think things, and don’t force things to happen, meet your deadlines, work damn hard, and question everything. Though possibly the most important thing I’ve learned is to keep on striving for perfection. As impossible as the notion of perfection in a photograph seems or arguably is, having the thought on your mind does only good things for one’s motivation.
Tell us about the concept, process and result of your final project/portfolio.
After initially exploring some new directions with the first few projects of the year, most of my final portfolio focused on music culture. Some of the most important elements in my creative process are research (naturally), and simply just looking at images. Photography is it’s own language, and it is pivotal for one to learn to ‘read’ images, both in an aesthetic and theoretical sense. I’m interested in the performance people give for the camera, photographing musicians is the perfect way to feed that interest. I explored concepts of theatricality, which has always been of interest to me. I also dealt with a few interesting fashion projects.
How would you describe your personal style, and what influences it?
I would say my style is based on a more traditional approach to photography, I shoot mostly black and white and incorporate a theatrical element to my work. I’ve shifted through several methods of processing my images, and I’m still experimenting, which I feel is important. When I photographed the Windhoek music scene in the years before studying, I became embedded in that culture, documenting it from an insider’s point of view, which I feel has made quite on impact on the way I photograph.
I’m influenced by the likes of Bruce Davidson, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose notion of the ‘decisive moment’ has made a dramatic influence on my work. I’m also very interested in the more contemporary artists like Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson, who both incorporate theatrical elements in their works. I developed and still further my own style by exploring various avenues of photography and art, which is beneficial to any artist. I keep an extensive library of photographs in my head which is a great help too.
Describe your dream job.
The dream is to photograph the musicians and bands I love every day. Simple.
What are you busy with at the moment?
At the moment, I’m in the process of settling in Cape Town, and dealing with all the admin that goes along with that. Otherwise, thinking of projects for next year and taking a bit of a holiday up to my hometown, Durban.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m aiming to move to Europe in the next couple of years, so I’m going to be focusing on everything that’ll get me there. I’m doing an internship at Rolling Stone ZA next year, which I’m pretty excited for. Other than that, taking it by day, enjoying the new city.