Phonar Task 1: Todd Hido Research

For the second step of my assingment I was to create a visual portrait of the author of my assingment however in order to do this I conducted research into their practice, career and life to understand more about them. The end result of this step will be an image that I post on Instagram of the visual portrait and my supporting research.

Greatly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, Hido’s images created a narrative of suburban dwellings. They appear as cold places where secrets are kept and lies are told – especially at night. Much of Hido’s work revisits his childhood suburbs and desolated spaces. “The primary thing that draws me in is where I see something that reminds me of places that i’ve been before that remind me of where I grew up in Ohio.” His early series Houses at Night (1997) showcased various suburban homes lit with a single light source lending a sense of urgency and despair to the otherwise ordinary scenes.

In an interview Hido explains that the images are signs from his past and the feelings and memories that have subconsciously formed a fragmented narrative and that while taking these images it was difficult not to tell his own story within the work. While undertaking an independent study while in graduate school he received what he claims to be valuable feedback from an art therapist. Hido explains that “He taught me that I was on the right track with my subject matter and gave me the confidence to pursue it. What a gift that was in retrospect.He looked at the beginning of my houses at night, the beginning of my foreclosed home pictures, and the beginning of my portraits—all back in 1995 when I had just two or three of each, and he told me that I was right in the midst of telling the story of my life and that my photographs clearly represented that.”



The images of houses in Hido’s series Houses at Night often show coming through the window and as a result human presence is implied. It can also be said that the quality of the light is a sign of the quality of their presence, making the the picture more about the people inside. This is the element that Hido said he attracted to in the first place – for him he was wondering about what his or her life is like. In relation to this, Hido said that “The lights come on and the inside seeps to the outside.”

The images are all shot on a large format analogue camera and no additional lighting is added to the scene, it is exactly how Hido found it. In addition to this, Hido’s images are mostly a landscape orientation to allow the full house and surrounding environment to be in the shot. When shooting the houses Hido stated that “I do not collaborate or get permission from the owners to make the photographs.I just do it….I’m not the kind of photographer that goes out and creates something from an idea that I preconceived…at least not with landscapes or buildings.” – This is something I will also need to consider when producing my own images for his assingment.

In addition to photographing the exterior of houses Hido also photographs the interiors, many of which are of his childhood house and neighbourhood. Hido explains that he is “very much interested in the loss that happens in the spaces. Walls do talk. I was interested in the family drama that had occurred. A lot of my work is really about home and family…In these spaces I often recognise something of my own unstable childhood in them. Many of the places and people I photograph, resonate with me.”

Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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