Rachel Hulin has lived in New York since 2000. A native of Windham, Connecticut, Hulin didn’t have far to go to relocate, but the city opened up a world of creative opportunities for her. “I was extremely into photography in high school,” she says, quickly adding, “kind of the teenage girl cliche. I spent a lot of time in the darkroom.” While attending Brown University, she was the photo editor of the school newspaper, and took photography classes at the Rhode Island School of Design.
After graduation, Hulin worked in the production department at Conde Nast for a year, followed by a stint at the unlaunched Guggenheim.com, before returning to school to get a Master’s degree in Studio Art from New York University. NYU has an affiliate program with the International Center of Photography, which Hulin took advantage of. After graduation, she went to work for ICP. “That was where I got really connected to the photography world in New York,” she says. Eventually, she became a photo editor at Rolling Stone online, Radar, People, and Nerve.com, splitting her time between fine art photography and photo editing.
She’s also shooting a lot of weddings, usually with film, aiming for quality over quantity. “I try to do them in an interesting and artistic way,” she says. “It’s more and more rare. I always have my Mamiya 7II and a Pentax 67. Wedding guests are always asking me, ‘What is that thing?’” she laughs. Her two favorite lenses are the 80mm and the 65mm for the Mamiya 7. She prefers fixed-length over zooms.
“Film has a way of capturing light which digital just can’t do,” says Hulin. “I shoot a lot of chrome, too. Because I can’t look at every image, I’m a little slower with the process, more careful to compose each shot. It’s more expensive and you only have ten or twenty frames. Not even seeing the images for a week or more while I have them developed changes my relationship to the imagery. I might choose different ones than if I had that instant gratification. When I shoot digitally I shoot ten times as much and worry about it later. Even when I do shoot digital, I often use film filters in post. Film feels very nostalgic now, and nostalgia is a big part of what photography is.”
“My personal work is very narrative about family relationships and things that happen naturally,” says Hulin. “I always have my cameras with me. I’m always waiting and looking and hoping to see a moment that could be a poignant visual moment and tell a story. I make about five pictures every three months which I love, and I really love those five.”
“I much prefer natural lighting,” she explains of her warm, film images. This is even more impressive in the light of the even tonality she achieves across the range of clients she services. “I generally try to use the same style and cameras for my commercial lifestyle work and my fine art photographs. I want them to have the same feel.” She has some more personal projects in the planning stages, and hopes to continue her commercial lifestyle shoots. Soon to be heading to Mendoza, Argentina for a wedding shoot, she’ll be extending her stay to do personal work in the region.
With much of her time spent writing about photography, Hulin feels fortunate to be part of what’s happening now. “It’s an interesting time,” she says. “There’s so much changing every year. There’s so much information for photographers online now. There’s many photographers who want to help each other with comments and feedback.” She sees this community support similar to what photographers leave behind after college or graduate school is over.
One of Hulin’s latest projects is The Photography Post, a site chronicling the current state of photography. It includes feeds from all aspects of photography, including commercial work, fine art, fashion, and other sites and blogs. The site claims to “deliver the most current discussions on the state of photography.” This aggregate site features not only the live feeds, but it’s updated every fifteen minutes. A clean design and slick backend merge to form an impressive resource for photographers and photography-lovers. It also has corresponding Twitter and Facebook presences, and an RSS feed. A great effort with rich, ever-changing content.
From photographer to photo editor to photo blogger, Rachel Hulin has worn many hats in the photography trade. There’s no telling what she’ll try next, and, like her photographs, that’s worth watching for.
Written by Ron Egatz