Wonder South

Surplus & Sight

Dispatch 35: What life really looks like

Interview by Jeffrey Roedel • Photography by Abigail Hill

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Texas native Abigail Hill is a young photographer and explorer breathing new life and fresh perspective into both classic film formats and iPhone photography with her evocative view of the south Texas landscape and fashion and lifestyle imagery. A talent in front of and behind the camera, Hill spoke to Wonder Southabout her approach to creative work and what to do and see around Austin.


Check our interview and a selection of her favorite outdoor photos below.

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So tell me when you first picked up a camera, and what it is about this creative medium that fires you up?


I first picked up the camera in my 7th grade yearbook class and at the time it was the biggest connection I made to anything. I remember getting my own camera for Christmas that year, a Canon SL1 that I still use to this day. The thing that draws me to photography is that it’s the only thing in my life that directly portrays my soul. Through my pictures and through anyone else’s, you get a clear representation of who that person is and what makes them unique.

Colorado highs.

Colorado highs.

Big Bend National Park. 35mm.

Big Bend National Park. 35mm.

Road trip. iPhone.

Road trip. iPhone.

Summertime. 35mm.

Summertime. 35mm.

I gather you shoot with different cameras and formats. What do you use in the field and for portraits and how do you decide between a certain camera or even your phone at times?



Over the last year alone I’ve purchased two film cameras, a Canon AE1 which is a 35mm film camera, and Mamiya 645 Pro which is a medium format camera (120mm). Then I have a total of four Polaroids, two of them are Instax, and my other two are 600 film Polaroids that create a more vintage feel to them and those are my personal favorites. Lastly, I have a digital camera called a Canon SL1, which is a rather old model, but it’s all about the eye behind the camera.

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What are your favorite types of places to take people for portraits and lifestyle images?


I have a lot of places that I love photographing people in, and it all depends on the mood I’m trying to go for, but somewhere with a nice backdrop, natural lighting, and nice colors. When I’m photographing people, I always make sure they’re not in front of anything that can ruin the picture as a whole because the worst thing in the world is when the model looks stunning but there’s a photo bomber or piece of trash on the ground. 

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You're obviously a young creative artist, do you have a sense of what specifically you'd like to pursue long-term in the field of photography?


I would love to become a professional photojournalist one day—taking pictures of people all around the world. At the moment, I take a lot of fashion portraits, but I’d like to transition into taking portraits of people in their natural element and what their life reallylooks like. 

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Do you find being in front of the camera some also helps you when taking portraits of others? How do you talk to your subjects and direct them? What vibe to you establish on a shoot?


I do believe that because I’ve been a model for over two years now it really does help with my vision as a photographer and the vibe I try to go for on shoots. I know how to properly direct my subjects and tell them a pose to try, but of course I am still growing and learning how to better tell people what to do and what facial expression to make. It’s a learning process that one can never quite perfect, but that’s what’s so beautiful about it all! 

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Where have you traveled and what are some places besides your home that you find inspirational?


I’ve been to New York three times, twice for modeling and once for a journalism convention at Columbia University. New York is inspiring because of all the creative artists in the state and how it seems as though there is always something going on. I have also been to Los Angeles twice and what I love most about that place is that there are so many beautiful places that are tucked away and almost hidden from everything else. Along with those places, I’ve also visited Colorado multiple times because my family goes every summer for two weeks, and I go to Florida every now and then to visit my cousins. There’s something so unique about each place I travel to and I can’t wait to see what other places around the world are like. 

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Any great places in your neck of the woods that you'd recommend to travelers coming through?


I highly recommend coming to Austin and visiting The Domain if you enjoy good food and shopping. It’s a really fun place to be with friends and family. If you want to be outdoors or want to go on a hike, there are a bunch of cool places in and around Austin like McKinney Falls, Pedernales Falls—which is a ways away from Austin but it is breathtaking—and Barton Springs is a great hang out spot when it gets a billion degrees during the summertime. 

Barton Springs. Polaroid.

Barton Springs. Polaroid.

Barton Springs. 35mm.

Barton Springs. 35mm.

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What’s a quote you go back to frequently for inspiration?

My favorite quote is, “The goal isn’t to live forever, but to create something that will.” To be honest I don’t know who said it because I hear the quote all the time and see it everywhere, but I find it so true and relatable. When you spend time really thinking about those words, there is a lot of depth there. #WonderSouth

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Follow Abigail on Instagram @abigailsphoto