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van hilliard - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver

 

Please forgive the third-person nature of the following account. It was simply too awkward to write in the first person.

 

Danielle Vanessa Hilliard (aka Van Hilliard) is a nature photographer specializing in birds, especially those of the shorelines and wetlands of Florida. In previous lives, Van gained wide experience in a variety of ventures. Among other things, she worked in a mental institution, cleaned toilets, worked as a journalist and as a university faculty member. Despite the similarities of these activities, she finds that each made a distinct contribution to her photography approach.

Van spent nearly two decades as a journalist, including stints as a photojournalist, photo editor, correspondent, writer and editor. At one time, her staff included three Pulitzer prize winners for photojournalism. After her journalism career, Van returned to school and earned a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience. She then taught at the university level for 28 years before returning to photography.

Van's photos have won numerous local, national and international awards and have been displayed in numerous exhibits, including an on-going exhibit at the University of South Florida. In the 1960s and 1970s, she won several photojournalism prizes and twice she took first place in national competition for publication design.

 

Her experience at cleaning toilets earned her no awards, a fact of which she is proud. Her experience on the mental wards likewise earned her no awards but she did leave on her own accord.

 

Van's photography reflects her interest in story-telling. If a photo doesn't reveal something about the subject and the conditions in which the photo was taken, then she regards the photo as a failure. While attempting to tell a story, she tries to photograph in such a way that irrelevant surroundings do not detract from the main subject, hence the simple graphic approach to subject isolation.

 

She tries to follow the advice of Henry David Thoreau:

"Simplify, simplify, simplify".

 

She also follows another bit of advice of Thoreau:

"Beware of people who wear new clothes."

 

People who encounter Van after one of her outings on the Florida mudflats can attest to her lack of concern for new clothes. Her favorite fashion accessories are kneepads from Home Depot and a headband to keep her hair out of the viewfinder.

 

Newest photo stuff (note that the "Beware of new things" warning doesn't apply here.):

Canon 1D Mark IV

Canon 800mm f/5.6

Canon 15mm f/2.8

Tokina 11-16 for Nikon

12 & 25mm extension tubes for Canon

***

Canon 5D Mark II

Nikon D300s with vertical grip (using it regularly now with 200-400 VR F/4 attached)

Canon 40D with vertical grip

Canon 1D Mark II N

Canon 600mm IS f/4

Canon 28-135 IS

Canon 70-200 IS f/2.8

Canon 70-200 IS f/4

Canon 400 f/5.6 (outstanding birds-in-flight lens)

Canon 24mm f/2.8

Nikon D2X

Nikon D2H

Nikon D70

Nikon D100

Nikon 200-400 VR f/4 (one of the greatest lenses ever made)

Nikon 300 f/4

Nikon 600 f/4 (for several years, my most used lens)

Nikon 20mm f/2.8

Nikon 24mm f/2.8

Nikon 28mm f/2.8

Nikon 35mm f/2.8

Nikon 50mm f/1.4

Nikon 85mm f/1.8

Nikon 80-200 f/2.8

Nikon 18-55

Nikon 70-300

Nikon 35-135

I can't remember them all.

Sigma 20mm f/1.8

Sigma 24mm f/1.8

Sigma 28mm f/1.8

Sigma 14mm f/2.8

Sigma 180mm Macro f/3.5

Canon F1

Nikon F

Nikon FE (2x)

Nikon FE2

Nikon FM

Nikon FM2N

Nikon 8008 (3x)

Canon AE1 program (2x)

Canon A1

Nikon FG

Nikon EM (2X)

Nikon F5

Konica Autoreflex (several models)

Olympus OM10 (2X)

Olympus OM2 (several models)

Leica IIIg

Pentax (several models)

Nearly all of the original Vivitar Series I and original Kiron lenses from days when these were equivalent (or nearly so) to manufacturers' lenses

Many MF lenses from above manufacturers in focal lengths from 8 mm to 600mm

Others too numerous to mention

Several Gitzo tripods and monopod, 2 Wimberley heads, RRS BH-55 head

 

Anything and everything is possible.

Please pick up your copy here for display on your profile.

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  • JoinedMay 2007
  • OccupationNature Photographer
  • HometownA place in western Pennsylvania so backwoods that people that other people called "hicks" called us "hicks"
  • Current citySt. Petersburg
  • CountryUSA
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Photos of Vanessa (Van) Hilliard

Testimonials

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Dependent Air (deleted)

vanhillard, has some amazing photos of birds! Wonderful photostream and awesome talent. This photographer has an eye for beauty. Jeanie

October 21, 2007

I have studied natural history since I was a very young child, and have read many natural history publications and loved photography since a very early age. However, I am really really struggling to remember any bird photographs which are so ARTISTICALLY PERFECT in composition, detail and colour as those of Vanessa's! … Read more

I have studied natural history since I was a very young child, and have read many natural history publications and loved photography since a very early age. However, I am really really struggling to remember any bird photographs which are so ARTISTICALLY PERFECT in composition, detail and colour as those of Vanessa's! You are a real GENIUS with a camera and it has been a real PLEASURE to view your photographs!

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October 21, 2007

Vanessa has some of the best bird photos on flickr! Her ability to compose shots that give the feeling "being there" is extrodinary.

October 3, 2007

Having had the pleasure of viewing Vanessa's photo collection, I was compelled to write this testimonial. Vanessa has compiled a wonderful body of work filled with truly outstanding photographs. I don't know Vanessa, but the passion that is obvious in her photography acts as an inspiration to those of us who love w… Read more

Having had the pleasure of viewing Vanessa's photo collection, I was compelled to write this testimonial. Vanessa has compiled a wonderful body of work filled with truly outstanding photographs. I don't know Vanessa, but the passion that is obvious in her photography acts as an inspiration to those of us who love wildlife. Thanks, Vanessa, for sharing your work.

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September 28, 2007

I just discovered Vanessa and spent half an hour or so cruising thru a portion of her photo stream. I am totally entranced by first the subjects she manages to find, so many of them exotic and in the middle of some incredible act; and second, the quality of her images. Vanessa's extraordinary skill is immediately app… Read more

I just discovered Vanessa and spent half an hour or so cruising thru a portion of her photo stream. I am totally entranced by first the subjects she manages to find, so many of them exotic and in the middle of some incredible act; and second, the quality of her images. Vanessa's extraordinary skill is immediately apparent, and her soul peeks thru in the incredible heart-stopping art she makes each piece into. She must do nothing else, I think! Okay, enuf -- I'm going back for seconds!

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September 23, 2007

am hani almawash from kuwait am not very good with english & since i entered ur gallery i was trying to find someone to expresse my impretion towrd your photos coz as i join daily and see yoiur pics the olds & the new i find something differnt & uniqe am soo impresed and dashed by them i belive ur a photo magitio… Read more

am hani almawash from kuwait am not very good with english & since i entered ur gallery i was trying to find someone to expresse my impretion towrd your photos coz as i join daily and see yoiur pics the olds & the new i find something differnt & uniqe am soo impresed and dashed by them i belive ur a photo magition with etra ordenary tecneqes. i used to photograf bairds but now i may hide my pics. i wished that i was the first to stat my impresion but i was beat by someone eals still am glad to be the second one to do. all i have to say about ur pics is (wooooooow) and beleve me i dont say it 2 anyone good luck byee hani al mawash:)

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August 17, 2007

I write this testimonial in complete amazement that no one else has. I don’t know Vanessa, but her work speaks for itself. It is evident that that she spends time getting to know her subjects and therefore is able to capture special moments in their lives. Her passion for the wild creatures that remain against all o… Read more

I write this testimonial in complete amazement that no one else has. I don’t know Vanessa, but her work speaks for itself. It is evident that that she spends time getting to know her subjects and therefore is able to capture special moments in their lives. Her passion for the wild creatures that remain against all odds in the ever-growing metropolis that we live in shines through in every frame .

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August 11, 2007