Renaissance Men and Women are a polymath. They are curious and creative, have a thirst for knowledge and new experiences, and most importantly, they are always learning. They are men and women of their times, yet understand that some things in life are timeless. In an age that encourages the world to drift aimlessly through life, Renaissance Men and Women live a life of intention and purpose.
The Truth Renaissance hopes to bring attention to individuals who embody the definition of Renaissance Men or Women. In this series of interviews, you’ll learn about their interests, inspirations, passions, and desires.
Ron Hill is a Flint, Michigan native that has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, and now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a renowned photographic artist, that specializes in editorial, lifestyle, and fashion images. His work has been featured in Men’s Health and GQ Magazine respectively.
Hill is humble and passionate about his craft. If you spend any amount of time with him, it's clear where the inspiration behind his work comes from. His art is a reflection of his experiences, dreams, and how he sees the world around him. He is more than a photographer; he is a visual storyteller.
I recently sat down with Ron to discuss his photography, personal style, culture, and more.
The Truth Renaissance: When did you first get into photography?
Ron Hill: I originally got into photography around the age of fourteen. My grandmother used to buy me those disposable Kodak cameras. At the time, you could get your pictures printed out, or get them on a disc. I would get my pictures developed on a disc, put them on my computer, and photoshop them with a Microsoft program. My mom passed away when I was young, so all I had were pictures of her. So I started taking a lot of pictures of my family, and that’s what started my interest photography. From there I bought a point and shoot camera and I took that with me when I moved to North Carolina. I eventually saved up enough money to buy my first DSLR.
TR: When did you move to Atlanta?
RH: I moved to Atlanta in 2008 or 2009. Not long after I started college, I was offered an internship in Atlanta. At the time, I was in school and working at Target, but I ended up leaving school and moving down here to take advantage of that opportunity. I packed up a big bag of clothes and told my cousin that lived here that I was moving to Atlanta. I never dreamed of moving to Atlanta, but when the opportunity came I took it and ran with it. I worked under that photographer for 7 years, and in between that job I was building my portfolio.
TR: How do you feel about the creative scene in Atlanta?
RH: If you would have asked me that five years ago, I probably would have said I don’t know because I didn’t really know what Atlanta had to offer. What I’d seen I didn’t really care for, because it was a lot of reality stuff. However, I appreciate Atlanta for what it is right now. It’s beginning to have somewhat of a culture when it comes to art and things of that nature. They’re starting to respect it a little more than in the past, especially with all of the movies being filmed here.
TR: Out of all the cities that you’ve traveled to, which would you say is your favorite?
RH: I’ve never been out of the country, but of all the major cities in the US, New York is my favorite.
TR: Is there a country outside of the US that you’d really love to visit?
RH: I’d love to go to Europe. I think their fashion scene is very interesting. I’d also love to visit Toronto, Cuba, and Africa as well.
TR: What type of camera do you currently use?
RH: Nikon D750
TR: What is your favorite lens?
RH: 50mm or 85mm
TR: If you could give advice to anyone interested in photography, what would it be?
RH: Study your craft as much as you can. If you really love it, do it, but stay true to who you are. Right now, there are so many photographers out there that it can easily become a competition. Personally, I just stay in my own lane. I look at the work of others, but at the end of the day I just do me. I shoot what I have an interest in.
TR: How did you avoid falling into the comparison trap?
RH: In the past, I would look at other people’s work and think “this person is doing this, or maybe I should do that. This is what people are paying for, so maybe I need to do that.” But once I honed in on the things I really had an interest in, my mindset changed.
TR: What’s your thought process like going into a shoot?
RH: When I’m shooting a subject, for example if I’m shooting a guy in a mansion, I try to get them to take on my persona and how I would feel if I was this rich guy. Sometimes it’s not in the models personality, so I have to bring that out of them. If I’m shooting a woman, I try to bring out what sexy means to me, or what’s beautiful to me. If I’m shooting them together, I try to envision how I would want me and my future wife to look in that particular setting. So I try to project that through my lens.
TR: You’ve done some amazing editorial work. When did you decide you wanted to go that route?
RH: When I took photography in high school, I used to argue with my teacher all the time because I wouldn’t use up the negative space. If you look at my photos, even when I crop them, I shoot with a lot of negative space because that’s what I like, and that’s the way I see things. Even if I shoot someone in the middle of the frame, I try to shoot with a lot of negative space around them. If I need to, I can go in and crop it later. It' worked in my favor because my goal is to shoot for major brands.
TR: Are there any particular brands you’d love to shoot for?
RH: I wouldn’t mind doing avant-garde stuff for a publication like Vogue, but what I would really love to do are catalogues for brands like H&M or J Crew.
TR: Do you have a favorite photographer?
RH: One of my favorite photographers is Anthony Mandler. He’s a videographer and a photographer. He shot the “Run This Town” video, and some other memorable photos of Jay-Z. He’s also done a lot of work for Rihanna, Beyonce, and David Beckham. So he’s at the top of my list as far as contemporary photographers go. A lot of Mandler’s work is like storytelling, and if you look at my photograph’s I try to tell some type of story. That’s why I consider myself to be more of an editorial photographer. Anything that’s put in the picture, I curate to a certain degree, but try to make it come off as natural as possible.
TR: Do you have any other interests or passions besides photography.
RH: Not really. I’ve been doing photography full time ever since I was 20 years old. I don’t watch a lot of tv, and I can’t tell you the last time I went to a movie.
TR: How would you describe your personal style?
RH: My personal style is very simple and classic. I have an interest in fashion from the 50s and 60s. When it comes to my style, I try to incorporate that, unless I just have on some sweat pants and a t-shirt. I feel my style has a distinguished look, since you don’t see it that often, but it’s still simple.
TR: Do you have any personal rules when it comes to fashion or a signature item?
RH: I wouldn't say that I have any rules, but I feel like my signature item is my hat. I don’t wear it as much anymore, but I feel most comfortable in it. Even if I just went to get a fresh cut, I feel like when I have my hat on, I’m cool. I don’t care how many looks I get, good or bad. I think I get that from my father. My dad wears hats all the time and I think that’s just a bond between me and him.
TR: Do you have a favorite brand of hats?
RH: I’m not really into names too much, because if it looks good, it looks good. My favorite hat I got from a thrift store for three dollars.
TR: Do you feel like there any staple items every gentleman should own?
RH: I think every guy should have at least one white oxford button down. A nice pair of tailored trousers or a nice fitted shirt. Something that fits well.
TR: Do you prefer a neck tie, bow tie, or no tie?
RH: No tie.
TR: What music are you listening to these days?
RH: Kendrick is probably my favorite right now. My all time favorite is Jay-Z. If I throw on some old Jay, I’m good.
TR: What’s the last book you read?
RH: Men and Style: Essays, Interviews, and Considerations by David Coggins
TR: Do you collect anything?
RH: Shoes and vintage cameras.
TR: Who are your heroes in real life?
RH: My family and close friends; my sister, brother, and my dad. All of them add something to my life.
TR: What would you like to be doing five years from now?
RH: Traveling the world and making money doing what I love.
TR: What would you say is your purpose?
RH: I feel like with the talent God has given me, my purpose is to to give back in some type of way. I haven’t had the easiest life, but I've pressed forward. So I’d love to show others that if I can make it, you can too. Whether that is by sharing the wisdom that’s been passed down to me with others, or giving back financially in any way possible.