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Mr. Hill, a famous and infamous advertising creative director for many years, has recently been turning his creative instincts to original photography. And over the past ten years, the juices have been flowing in certain favorite formats.
Chato favors “cropping in the camera”, framing almost all his pictures, through the viewfinder. So you see his photos just the way he saw them, fully realized without cropping. He likes “street photography” – not just people, but the signs and objects and lamp posts and street lights that “frame” our lives. Mr. Hill loves traditional film, loves high-speed film, especially black-and-white, and always looks for the unexpected perspective or angle.
“Looking directly down with the camera, or directly up,” he says, “or looking out the window, not in -- that’s what I like to shoot.”
Chato is currently working on a multi-shot wall installation, as well as a gallery show entitled “Streets, Signs, Sky”.
Mr. Hill is currently Executive Creative Director of Solomon Friedman Advertising, creating award-winning TV, radio and print work for cultural giants The Henry Ford, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre, national traveling shows and many more.
“Chato”, the familiar name he is known by, came about because he was born in Mexico City, to American parents working in Mexico, whose best friend was a “Chato”, or, “snub nose”. His full proper name is Arthur Norman Hill II. He was born in 1949, favors the gritty urban landscape of Detroit, and visits Manhattan regularly – always stopping in Harlem.
When I took the photo, I was reminded of the life inside of Harlem. Even in winter, the streets smell of incense and laughter. This image captures the endless energy and motion behind the daily grind of Harlem Streets.
"Hydration" is a summer reality that has proven timeless. As a photographer and writer living in Harlem, this community is one of my primary inspirations. As its faces change, property values fluctuate and streets increase in commercial appeal, Harlem remains. Fluid. Cool. Hydrated.