We catch up with the photographer behind the wheel of his car while cruising through the California suburbs after dark — looking to add to his celebrated series, Homes at Night
‘I’ve never had the urge to make a movie and I definitely can’t write,’ confesses Ohio-born photographer Todd Hido. ‘Photography is the thing I use to express myself, or to figure myself out.’ Driving through the suburbs of San Francisco, he pauses occasionally to train his camera on a building that could be the next in his celebrated series, Homes at Night.
‘I always gravitate towards some place that looks like home,’ Hido continues, explaining that his aim is to find a house lit by a single window — a quiet indication of the life that is at the heart of the series. These photographs, he insists, ‘really aren’t about houses. They’re about people.’
Back at his studio, Hido muses, ‘The thing I like about photography is that it can’t talk.’ He cites the photographer Lewis Baltz — renowned for his stark shots of cityscapes — as someone who placed photography somewhere ‘between literature and film’. That space is one that Hido gladly occupies, creating charged images that hint at a narrative only partially seen or remembered.
‘[My photography] is very much led by intuition. I’m piecing together stories about people.’ Alongside his own work, Hido collects abandoned images, arranging them to create monographs that he calls ‘paper movies’. Found in thrift stores, these photographs of unknown people and interiors become ‘cogs in a narrative wheel’.
‘I’m a portrait photographer, I’m a night photographer, I collect found photographs, and the reason I do that is that they’re all components that I’m able to pull together to create a story,’ says Hido. ‘There’s a communication that happens between people and pictures… that’s a really wonderful thing.’