Jeff Hutchens was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1978. The son of an American diplomat, he spent his childhood throughout the U.S. and across China, South Africa, and the Philippines. Jeff has shot professionally on six continents, where he’s faced grizzly bears, lava floes, Komodo dragons, and all manner of corrupt officials. From work on the surreality of life in China, to documenting underground epidemics in the jungles of central Africa, to photographing polar bears in the Arctic Circle, he captures images that convey transcendent moods and subtle beauty. Jeff was recognized as one of “PDN’s 30” (2009) and has won multiple awards in the World Press Photo competition, National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Best Of Photojournalism competition, Pictures Of The Year (POYi) and Communication Arts (CA). Additionally, Jeff and his filmmaker brother Peter are the subject of a six-part travel/adventure series airing on the National Geographic Channel. The show follows them as they document far-flung regions of China through their respective lenses.
Jeff is represented by Reportage by Getty Images and Orchard Represents and lives in Washington, D.C. when not on assignment.
Photo Tips & Tricks:
Ordinary = Extraordinary
"Under construction" is usually code for "will not photograph well because of all the heavy machinery and equipment clutter". But even when you think extra clutter will make a place less photogenic, it's usually a matter of reorienting your vision to figure out how to use what's actually there in front of you. The mesh behind the two figures was put up specifically to keep dust and debris away from visitors, but at the same it catches late afternoon light coming in through the windows perfectly. Even when things look unappealing to the naked eye, a slight change in composition and exposure can take something ordinary and turn it in to something extraordinary. Similarly, a discarded orange peel on a bus seat – how dull?
I'm always thankful for any architect anywhere in the world that's incorporated glass into a building. It immediately gives you twice the visuals to play with - 1) the real, and 2) the reflections. Look for how you can play tricks on the viewers' eyes with those reflections. Look for patterns that blend reality and the artificial across the surface of the building. I'd say 90% of the time you can confuse the viewer – give them a moment where they're not exactly sure what they're looking at – your image is successful.
A little decontextualization never hurt anyone. I think there's often a tendency to want to put too much information into a photograph, to give it too much context. You have a chance to create an image that is more captivating, that viewers often have to sit with a little longer when you leave contextual elements out. It distills your images into more of a mood than a literal translation of a time and place – and that's a good thing.
It usually never hurts to change your point of view. Look all the way up. Look all the way down. Crouch. Stand on something. Shoot from anywhere but your natural eye level, and more times than not you'll create something more dynamic than pedestrian.