We taking a closer look at Brett Hillyard this week who was nominated by Robbie Jeffers in our Lockdown Sessions back in week 12.


Share your favourite image / print shot on ILFORD film and tell us what it means to you?

One of my favorite images over the last couple weeks is from a portrait session I had with Jeff Yokoyama. He goes by“Yoki” and his retail store “YokiShop” is located in Newport Beach. His shop is filled with eclectic art and cool custom clothes that he designs in the back. Yoki built brands I admired and wore growing up, including Maui and Son’s, Pirate Surf, & Modern Amusement. He also designed for one of my favorite brands Stussy. The portraits of Yoki means a lot to me because of the history behind this legend. It also helped that the light was unreal behind his shop!

Just in case anyone doesn’t know who you are or what you do can you give us the overview?

My name is Brett Hillyard, my nickname is Hilly. I’m a Southern California based photographer that lives in Laguna Beach. I love photography because it allows me to share what I see with others. The moments, the light, the people, the experiences. Photography is my primary creative outlet and it seems to never end. It’s funny how photography is constantly on my mind as I see moments as photographs. The desire to capture meaningful moments drives me to explore. Photography has taken me to the war zone of Russia and Ukraine, leprosy centers in Vietnam, Hospitals in the Amazon, to alleyways of Cuba. The curiosity to see and experience new places and people are driven by capturing them on film.

by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film

How and why did you get started shooting film?

I was visiting my sister in Prague I believe the year was 2004, or something close. I remember walking into a camera shop and buying a used Yashika twin-lens reflex. I didn’t even know how to load the thing. It was so unusual to be looking down into the big viewfinder to align the shot and everything was flipped. The film camera really taught me to think critically of what was in the frame and what my exposures were, because I didn’t want to waste any shots. Each photo had value. I love that about analog photography each shot is more sincere and thought out. I really love the richness in tones and the overall process of developing and printing my own pictures.

Chilada by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film

Who has been your biggest photographic inspiration to date?

My biggest inspiration is definitely Elliot Erwitt. I love his black and white candids and the humor behind a lot of his work! He does a great job of aligning unrelated objects to tell his own story! One photo that sticks out is of the couple dancing in the kitchen! My parents actually have that print hanging in their kitchen! His series with the dogs is really great as well!

What is the best piece of photography tip or advice you have ever received?

I’d have to say my parents gave me the best advice. They have always encouraged me to pursue what I love, and to do that 100%! I took their advice and pursued my passion for photography. I’ve done a lot of learning the hard way by making mistakes. I think sometimes those teach me the best lessons. My pursuit to progress comes from a love of capturing moments that communicate an emotion or attention. The old saying “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” is totally true. I feel so fortunate to love what I do.

What film photography related projects are you currently working on (or are in the pipeline)?

A recent project was a photo essay that included 20 portraits of essential workers in their workplace during the pandemic. The photo essay was shot entirely on HP5 and was included in issue 9 of Bluedoor Magazine.

by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film

What / where is your next shoot and how do you decide what film / kit you will use?

My next shoot is this afternoon, it’s part of a series documenting local chefs cooking in their outdoor kitchens. This will be an editorial piece in the issue 10 of Bluedoor Magazine, a Coastal Orange County Lifestyle publication. I always have the 3 favorite cameras with me, the Leica M6, the Hasselblad XPan, and the Mamiya 7II, along with a big bag of HP5 120 & 35.

What are your photographic goals going forward? (Can be business or personal).

My goal is to be an ambassador for ILFORD! Haha! A goal of mine is to take my dark room prints to a larger scale 40x60. Another goal is to produce a black and white book photo book of my favorite images!

Shark by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film


We all need a bit of inspiration and love so this is your chance to tell the community about yours – from the film photographers whose work inspires you, the labs you trust with your film, your ‘go to’ film photography stockists, your favourite community darkrooms or just anyone in the community who you feel deserves a special mention.

Give a shout out to your 3 favourite film photographers (not photography hubs) currently active on IG or Twitter and briefly tell us why others should follow them.

Michael Weitzman. @MWPHOTOGRAPHICARTS - His work is unique and he experiments with pinholes and a variety of alternative printing processes.

Eric Frost. @ERICKFROST - A great dude I met in the Darkroom and he shoots a lot of music and has a great eye.

Nolan Hall - @Nolannow Nolan shoots a ton of lifestyle /candid photos. He had a Darkroom at one time and I believe he shoots for Vans.

by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film


Give a shout out to your favourite photography YouTube channels (apart from the @ilfordphoto one).

My favorite podcast / youtube channel is “The Candid Frame” Ibarionex Perello is the host and producer of the podcast. He is a photographer interviewing photographers! The interviews are really good and have opened my eyes to a lot of new photographers.

Give a shout out to your favourite photographic retailers (name, location and website).

Pro Photo in Irvine CA, ask for John he will for sure charge you double if you mention my name! https://prophotoconnection.com

Give a shout out to your favourite lab service, if you have one

I process my own film in my kitchen, thank you ILFORD for making the best film and chemistry… For chemistry I use Ilfotec HC and the only film I shoot is HP5!

Street performer by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film


What film cameras do you own and which is your favourite?

Mamiya 7II, Leica M6, Hasselblad X Pan, Nikonos, Yashika Twin-Reflex, Hasselblad 500cm, Medium format Pin-hole, 4x5 Graflex. My favorite two cameras are the Mamiya 7II and the Leica M6!

Aside from your camera, lenses and film what accessories make it into your camera bag?

Other accessories in my bag would be Tiffen #25 red filters, Profoto b1 strobe, Sekonic spot meter, and a couple packs of gum!

What is the best piece of photography kit you have found or been gifted?

My most valued camera is the Mamiya 7II I really love the 6x7 format. I see it as my Leica M6’s big brother. The photos that come from the Mamiya 7II are much more impressive than the sound of the shutter!

Soldier with guitar by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film

As this is an ILFORD interview it would be remiss of us not to ask about your favourite ILFORD products. Tell us you favourite ILFORD film, paper or chems and why?

The only film in my bag is HP5. Every couple weeks I go to Pro Photo and restock on the 120 and 35mm 10 packs. I love this film it works great in all conditions. I love to push it 1-3 stops. I love the contrast and grain of this film, especially pushed! My chemistry of choice is Ilfotec HC I really love the richness of tones that this developer provides!

When I print I use your Fiber based papers. I go between 3 papers depending on the photos. The Multigrade Art 300 is great for portraits and the more artistic shots…I love the texture and tones I have gotten out of this paper. I also really like the Fiber Classic Matt & Fiber Warmtone semi-matt! I find I use the warm tone paper when I’m printing most of my portraits. I tend to use the Matt paper when I print landscapes! I really love all the products ILFORD puts out you make it hard to choose because I dig them all!Cuba by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film


Nominate one other person you think should fill in this form and we will reach out to them

I’d like to nominate Michael Weitzman. @MWPHOTOGRAPHICARTS I met Michael a couple years ago in the Darkroom in Irvine CA. His work is super unique, he shoots a lot with pinhole cameras and experiments with alternative printing techniques.

XPAN-089 by Brett Hillyard on ILFORD black and white HP5+ Film

All images shot on HP5+ and © Brett Hillyard