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Image detail: Hugh Hamilton, from the series Bodies (2011)

For our August Spotlight, we are thrilled to announce that Hugh Hamilton, photographer and videographer to the stars, will present the story of his incredibly diverse career. 

Tune in Wednesday, 10 August, 12:30 to 1:30 pm (Sydney time), as Hugh tells us how he transitioned from photographer to videographer and how he stays light on his feet in an ever-changing industry.  


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Working between Sydney and Los Angeles, Hugh Hamilton has emerged as one of Australia’s most successful international photographers – known for his celebrity photoshoots for major publications like Rolling Stone, Vogue and GQ, as well as promotional material for Unilever, Google Ideas, Wonderbra, the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company. He has also made a name for himself with his provocative independent art projects, like his series Bodies. He’s worked in fashion, music, film, corporate, and everything else.  


Image Credit: Hugh Hamilton, Rolling Stone (magazine cover), Issue 723 February 2012

Despite this impressive portfolio, Hugh made the bold move to expand into videography. Currently, Hugh is the principal of videography for the Sydney Film Festival and the Sydney Writers Festival and creates massive commercial video projects for the likes of Qantas and Sony. 

So, to say that Hugh has a lot going on is a bit of an understatement. Doesn’t seem like Hugh can say no to anything, which is crucial to his success. 

Image credit: Hugh Hamilton, Tommy Lee

In fact, Hugh’s first soiree into videography was simply because he said yes, despite being a bit ill-prepared. When a client on a shoot spontaneously asked if his camera could also take video, Hugh said, “yes – but I need a sound guy and an editor since I have no idea how to do either”. They said yes and came up with a budget; the rest is history. 

For Hugh, it wasn’t about broadening his ability necessarily, but being able to use all the tools at his disposal. “You should be able to do everything your camera does – if your camera can take video, so can you”. It was a natural progression for Hugh from one medium to another. As cameras changed and developed, so did his career. Expanding his grasp on recording media allowed him to stay agile in the industry. As he notes, “in the modern market, I think the correct answer to almost every question these days is ‘yes, I can do that’, because even if you can’t, you can learn.” 


Image credit: Hugh Hamilton


But before Hugh’s finger got anywhere close to the record button, he was already embroiled in the world of cinema. He always wanted to be in the movie industry, and when he was a university student, he worked as a production assistant on several films. And you can see this love of cinema, and the movement of film reflected in his still photography.

Image credit: Hugh Hamilton, Ben Mendelsohn

Like in his series Rosebud (2014), which pictures intimate portraits of actors and performers with the objects they hold dear. The series title is an obvious nod to the film Citizen Kane, a movie that hinges upon the personal significance an object can have in someone’s story. 

Image credit: Hugh Hamilton, Steve Martin from his series Rosebud

“This hat was one of my first magician’s props, a collapsible top hat. When I bought it, it was probably twenty years old, and I got it in 1955 or 1956 and it still operates. It’s a collapsible!” – Steve Martin  

From Steve Martin’s collapsible top hat to Anthony LaPaglia’s first professional football jersey, the Rosebud exhibition takes you into the private lives of cinema’s great actors and storytellers.  

Head On exhibited Rosebud at the Sydney Film Festival, which Hugh now collaborates with as head of videography. And you’ve got to know what you’re doing to film the filmmakers. Talk about a tough audience! 

Image credit: Hugh Hamilton, Patrick Warburton

While Hugh works primarily as a commercial videographer, you would be misguided to discount his photographic pursuits. Photography and videography sit on his tool belt, ready to be employed when a project calls for it. In fact, Hugh notes mastering video made his stills better. 

“After thirty years in photography there’s a lot of instinct and yes, habit, involved in the way I shoot. Adding motion meant that serious thinking came back into the process and I would like to think that that was reflected in my photography work too.” 

Image Credit: Hugh Hamilton, Jason Derulo photographed for the New York Times, 5 March 2010

Check out some of Hugh’s videography here:

Video credit: 2021 Reel from Hugh Hamilton on Vimeo.


Join Hugh Hamilton for this star-studded Spotlight on Wednesday, 10 August, 12:30 to 1:30 pm (AEST). Hugh will take you through how he embraced video, and give you tricks to fast learning new mediums and how to trust your technology. 

This session is supported by Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.
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Image detail: Gary Ramage