Phil Hillyard

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Phil Hillyard
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Michael O'Loughlin confronts the crowd. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Where have you worked and over what time period?

  • Started as a copy boy in the darkroom of the Adelaide News on Boxing Day 1988.
  • Began my cadetship as a photographer in September of 1989 and worked at the News until the paper's closure in March 1992.
  • Worked freelance wherever I could for the next eighteen months, mainly doing shifts for the Australian in the Adelaide bureau.
  • Offered a staff position on the Adelaide Advertiser in 1993 where I worked until the beginning of 1998.
  • Transferred to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney in March 1998, where I currently work as a Sports Photographer.

How did you get into press photography - what was your big break?

From the age of thirteen, when I got my first camera, I decided that I wanted to be a press photographer. I was quite lucky, I guess, that I knew what I wanted to do. When I was fifteen I did work experience at the News. It was the most amazing week and I remember staying on for the Saturday as well, so that I could go and shoot the football with the paper’s senior photographer.

Just after I completed school I received a phone call from the Editorial Manager of the News. who offered me a job in the darkroom. The group of photographers at the News. gave me a great grounding in newspapers and so many of the things I learnt in those early days I still take with me on assignments today.

What is your favourite photograph of all those you have taken and why?

I always find it very tough to answer this question, it is hard to find one favourite. My favourite is probably the most recent picture I have taken, that I am happy with. For example, if I have worked very hard to make a portrait happen and put all my energy into making it work and it does, then that’s my favourite. Or if I have captured a unique moment in a sporting event that tells the story of the day then, for a period, that one becomes my favourite, until I take another that I am really happy with. I guess it keeps me fresh and striving for more.

What is the biggest change you've seen in press photography over your career?

I don't think you can go past the change from film to digital. I began shooting for newspapers using bulk loaded black and white film. We first moved from black and white to colour film, which was a big change at the time, but going digital was huge. Photography involves a lot of trial and error and in the film days we had to wait until we processed to see our success or failures. But now it is instant! This also allows us to send pictures immediately and they can be online just after the event has happened. So in a way, the technology has made our job easier, but more trying also with the expectation so much greater.

What was the first camera you used and what camera do you use now?

My first camera was a Pentax Program A but my first press camera was a Nikon FM2 with motordrive. I had a 24mm, 35mm, 135mm and a flash.

I now use two Canon 1DX cameras, sometimes three. I carry a 17-35mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm a 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4 two flashes and either a 400mm, 500mm or 600mm depending on which sport I am photographing.

I often use Broncolor portable lighting for my location shooting. We obviously also carry a laptop and ipad also for sending our work.