Journal

A NEW ADVENTURE

On the 10th of June, I started a new adventure as a director at Fathom 100, which is the monicker of my new department at The Richards Group.

It’s in its infancy & we are working to define what our core mission is, but for now, it’s safe to say that I will be doing work very similar to that which I’ve always done. As of now, we are just me. However, my collaborators on that work are 750 of the brightest minds in advertising. That part really excites me.

It’s a pretty incredible opportunity to begin something new inside an organization with their creative track record and reputation.

Since making the change, there's one question I have received more than any other:

WHY?

A few weeks before I began, Stan Richards (in case it’s not painfully obvious, he’s the owner of TRG) asked to meet with me. I was assured this wasn’t an “interview”, the job was mine. He just wanted to talk.

After 20 minutes of get to know you talk he shifted in his chair, looked me square in the eye and asked, “You’ve been making a living for a long time, why would you want to leave that to join us?"

This was my answer:

There’s a big difference between making a living and thriving in life. The last few years, I felt like the opportunities to thrive have waned. It’s as if I ran through the doors of a great looking building, climbed all it’s stairs and was now frustrated by the ceiling above my head.
 
I thrive when I embrace challenge and there were no more challenges to take me higher. To grow, to thrive, would actually require me to find a new building.
 
I had some great times, but a few years of introspection made it pretty clear that my successes would always be minor. I was, at best, a very reliable minor league ball player. And the Yankees called to say they had a spot for me.
 
I made the change because I wanted to see if I had what it takes to play major league ball. I wanted that challenge more than I wanted to be on the top floor of a short building.
The view from my new desk.

The view from my new desk.

This wasn’t a decision I entered into lightly. I operated as Trey Hill Photographs for 7 years and there’s something to be said for the fact that I could have gone for 7 more. But, for the sake of complete transparency, my wife & I had been talking about making a change like this for many years. Owning your own business is really tough and we have more than our fair share of scars to prove it.

This change means giving up some things. My time operating as the photographer for the Dallas Stars coming to an end & no longer acting as an auteur on projects come to mind pretty quickly. Some of the things I leave behind, I do so with a very heavy heart. But, the upside is that none of those things mean walking away from the people who made them special.

The relationships were always my favorite part of self employment. The work was occasionally cool. The opportunities were often once in a lifetime. But the people were what kept me going.

Thankfully, I take all of those relationships with me into this new season of life. And, whatever it is that gets built will benefit greatly from knowing them.

Not on the Skies

 
And once this had brought a pang to me,
a sense of pain in my heart to see
The leafless trees and the stubble sear,
and the darkening faces of a dying year.

It is not so now. My heart is glad,
tho’ every sight and sound is sad,
For I have come to realize
that joy depends not on the skies.
— from Clear Skies by Maltbie Davenport Babcock
 

This past August, after a five year absence, I was able to return to South Sudan with my friends from Seed Effect. It was a special experience because when I first arrived in November of 2009, Seed Effect had yet to distribute a loan & in the years since a massive forest of hope had sprung up throughout Kajo Keji.

On the surface, not much had changed... but press in just a little & you could see the tangible difference Seed Effect had made on the area. 

I was blown away, actually.

Anniversaries are cool & this month marks the 5th anniversary of the first Seed Effect loan. Wow.

To help celebrate, I've worked on a few new films while I was with Seed Effect this summer & those will premier on Thursday, November 13th at their #SETurns5 Event. Also, I'll be joining fellow photographer Andrew Slaton in a two-man photography show that opens that evening. 

A storm gathers over the South Sudanese boma of Kajo Keji.

A storm gathers over the South Sudanese boma of Kajo Keji.

On two different evenings, Andrew & I stood together marveling at the power of the storms that swept across the South Sudanese skies (one of those is pictured above). Those two storms really informed the way I framed curating my contributions to this show. I'm incredibly excited about this new body of work & I hope you'll come out to see the show in person.

Here are the details:

Thursday, November 13th, 6 — 9 PM at The Laundry (1818 Chestnut St. Dallas, TX)

Register for the event ($19, which goes directly to the work Seed Effect is doing in South Sudan) by clicking here

I genuinely hope to see you there.


RELATED CONTENT

One by One

Not long ago, I did a series on mobile photography because I believe that photography has always been a social medium, a thing to be shared. Over the last few years, I've really embraced this reality. And I'm not alone. In the wake of the advent of new venues, like Instagram, that play host to millions upon millions of shares, whole communities have sprung up and relationships have leaped off of devices into real life.

This is post is about one of those things. And I couldn't be happier to have a very small part in it, for my city.

Last year, InstaDFW founder, Jeyson Paez, reached out to me with a simple, but intriguing idea. Let's put on a group photography show that features the mobile photography work of the DFW community. I was intrigued. Then he asked me to curate the show which opened at WELD, the co-working space I call home, on September 27, 2013.

It was an incredibly fun evening.

Well, here we are, less than a year later and One by One 2014 is upon us.

The One by One 2014 poster was hand-drawn by Kyle Steed.

The One by One 2014 poster was hand-drawn by Kyle Steed.

This year the show has grown a bit, reaching beyond the bounds of the DFW community to feature twenty of the top Instagrammers from across the United States alongside DFW's vibrant community. Not only that, but the month-long show will be accompanied by artists talks, and a Dallas Block Party on June 20th.

I'm am thankful for the opportunity to have, again, curated the show. The work this year is stellar & the challenge brought out some unique connections between the work of the individual artists as well as their relationship to one another. I'm particularly proud of what will be on display beginning Monday, May 19th.

All the details about the show are available are available here. I genuinely hope you're able to stop by and enjoy the show.


Related Content

Dark to Dawn

DtD-01

I'm excited to announce an event that has been months in the making. On Oct. 3rd (yes, Stars fans, I know that's opening night) at the Fashion Industry Gallery, my long-time collaborator East-West Ministries is hosting a one-night gallery event featuring more than 100 of my photographs from around the world.

The event is free, but you need to register online (click here to register now) in order to attend. In order to spread the word, I'm asking for your help. Please feel free to steal that image above and post it where ever you like - Facebook it. Tweet it. Pin it. Do all of that and more. Even if you're not able to come or don't live in Dallas, I'm sure there is someone in your network who would be interested in an evening filled with art and good company.

Below is an excerpt from the artist's statement I've written for the show, which has been curated from more than 50,000 images taken over the last four years. Most of the work has never been seen before, but we have also included a handful of images that have helped shape my understanding of who I am as a photographer and storyteller.

DtD-02

An evening dedicated to the art and film of East-West has been a dream of mine since our first collaboration was in pre-production during the spring of 2010. In the years since that first trip - a career defining & life affirming journey to Cuba - I have had the distinct privilege of traveling with East-West to 9 countries, witnessing the artful ordering of our Father's grace and majesty at incredibly close range. In that time, through the tens-of-thousands of frames and terabytes of video footage collected, a singular belief has solidified in my heart:

Where goes light, goes life.

DtD-04

I have seen how the promise of the day to come can unshackle a man condemned by leprosy. I have seen how light can give courage to the two Christian families in a city of a half-million Muslims. I have watched as people experience Jesus for the first time in a dark hut through the flickering light of the Jesus film, then stood in awe as those same people were baptized in a puddle in the dark of night, just down the road.

DtD-03

To paraphrase my friend Barry Jones, there is a day coming when there will be no tears and all the rough places will be made smooth. These images represent little glimpses into the lives of people and places who have experienced a taste of that day in this one - or who are desperate for such a hope as this.

I sincerely hope to see you there.

Fifty Dollar Bills

Do you remember that scene in Goonies when Data accidentally bumps the counterfeiting machine in the basement of the Lighthouse Lounge? The machine rumbles to life and sheet after sheet of "fifty dolla bill!" come rolling out. In a fleeting moment before the story even starts, the counterfeiting machine nearly brings an end to their quest for the real treasure that will save their town.

And that's the the thing about the counterfeit - it's so convincing, it promises us reprieve from the hard work ahead. I can't tell you how many times I've chased the counterfeit when real treasure was waiting for me, if only I would join the quest.

WELD life is good life.

WELD life is good life.

About 5 years ago, my buddy Steve & I had an idea for a co-working space in Dallas. I only mention this little detail because what I did with the idea stands in stark contrast to what my friend Austin Mann did with a similar idea. I looked at the cost (financial, personal and professional) and balked, whereas Austin sacrificed everything to bring WELD to life.

And, make no mistake, Austin has sacrificed everything he once treasured — a blossoming career as a photographer, numerous opportunities to have his work (which is brilliant) featured in national publications, stamps in his passport from far flung and exotic places and adventure. He's sacrificed so much adventure.

WELD's founder, Austin Mann // a birds eye view of the WELD Dallas patio

WELD's founder, Austin Mann // a birds eye view of the WELD Dallas patio

But, as he heads off today to start WELD Nashville, I see that, maybe just maybe, his sacrifice of the very things I was unwilling to let go of is a statement of faith in what he deems to be treasure. And what he considers true adventure.

To enable, inspire and grow the creative communities of Dallas — and now Nashville — is a gift that multiplies Austin's heart for people a thousand fold. And amplifies the impact he alone can have in the world.

WELD-003

Five years ago, I said no to that quest. I didn't have the capital or the desire or the stomach to risk everything for others. That's hard to admit, but it's honest.

So, when Austin came to me and asked if I'd be willing to move into the roll of "Chief WELDER" in Dallas, I was faced with a similar dilemma. And there were a hundred reasons to once again say no. I mean, $50 bills are rolling off the machine, y'all. But, as I thought about my friends in Dallas who come to WELD every day, and this city my family calls home, and the deep seated beliefs I have about who we creatives are supposed to be in society, I realized those $50 bills are a sorry substitute for the quest that I was being invited into, which is the real treasure afterall.

I'm incredibly thankful to Austin for cultivating this community and revealing the deep truths of life to me in all he does. And, I'm incredibly honored that he'd hand me the opportunity to care for the fruit of his sacrifice.

I don't know what will happen next. Starting today, I'm in the tunnel, juggling my workload as a storyteller and the needs of the WELD community, and I'm sure that both the reminders of other's failures and a few boobie traps lay in front of me (that's what I said, 'boobie traps!!'"). But I also know that there is a treasure out there & I have a group of people (and, I genuinely love those people) who have climbed into the tunnel with me. And all any of us want to find is something better than the comfort of the counterfeit.

So, WELDERs, here we go.

DSLR workshop

Let's be honest, I've done a terrible job of promoting this, on a personal level, but I wanted to let you know it's not too late to sign up for this weekends WELD lab that I'm teaching. We will spend four hours with our hands on our cameras, learning everything from how to navigate your cameras menu system to taking advantage of features inside your DSLR that you haven't tapped into yet so that you can get the most from your camera.

This class has been designed with beginning photographers in mind. All you need to come with, besides your camera, is a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. That's it. Oh, and remember, you learn more when you're with friends - so please take a minute to share this with people in your life you'd like to learn alongside. We're going to have a good time.

You can register online by clicking the image. So, please do that.

You can learn more about WELD & WELD labs here: http://weld.co.