Martin Hillier: Raw Collection

In his last collection titled Tribal, Martin Hillier took us on an exotic, sultry and fierce journey into a series of photographs that encompassed hints of ancient lore and textures found in nature. Today, it’s time to travel back in time, about a century or so, and experience life in a little black and white.

Raw is a wet plate collection done on glass plates as it would have been done 100 years ago,” explains Martin. “There is so much post-work done to photos now. I wanted to take this shoot back down to the basics—one shot, one chance, and 15 seconds of the models being unable to move. I wanted a raw graininess; a true mood of a single moment in time. There is a haunting beauty around this type of photography and my photographer Phillip Chin is brilliant at catching the moment you are trying to portray.”

It really is a remarkable form of photography and one that requires skill and complete patience. And let’s point out, this isn’t Phillip’s first time at the wet plate photography rodeo. If you Google his name, several search results show that he has participated in Wet Plate Collodion Photography Meetup Groups and he lists it in his LinkedIn profile. Before we proceed, let’s make something clear that the only reason his name was Google’d was the fact I wanted to see more of his wet plate work. I swear! And, also because when I interviewed Martin about this collection, he stated that he had seen Phillip’s other wet plate images and was completely inspired by the whole look and process. It was that thrill of having that one chance to get your shot that got him hooked and made him want to move forward on creating this collection.

The Raw Collection is just that—it’s rare, fresh and a bit erratic. There’s inconsistencies between each image and model that bring them all together into a cohesive and beautifully chaotic story. It is a peculiar play on “Wild West” and “Victorian England” meeting today’s modern woman. During our discussion, Martin summed it up perfectly when he said:

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It gives the viewer an air of mystery which relates to a different type of glam. When we are made to think outside the box we see everyday possibilities as well as the fantasy of the shots.

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Yes, the hair, as it is in most collections, is very detailed, time-consuming hairdressing and has that editorial, fantastical overall effect. However, if you view each look closely and past the amazing wet plate effect, you can see how it can be translated and completely wearable in everyday life. From cornrows to braids, to sleek, straight hair, this is the hair that today’s modern woman is celebrating and wearing.

What is most exciting about Martin Hillier’s Raw Collection is his reflection back on the entire creative process of it all. You can tell he truly loved creating these shots and working with his team, a team that embraced his vision from the get-go. “I’m very lucky to know many professional makeup artists, photographers and stylists, and I think it’s really important to gear a collection towards people you think will get what you are feeling for that collection and be as into it as you are,” he shared. “So each time I work, I try and make sure the whole team is as excited and behind the idea as I am.” Not only that, but the team has to communicate effectively and be proactive, especially with this type of photography. “Timing is everything for this kind of work. From the models standing still, to the wet plates being covered properly, to the many, many rinses that the plates have to undergo after processing. It’s all a lot of work, but very exciting to see instant (pardon the pun) art!”




Hair: Martin Hillier

Makeup: Tracy Bowers

Photographer: Phillip Chin


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