PPD Spotlight: Nicky Hamilton Explores a Troubled Past in "Lonely Man"

By David Schonauer   Thursday March 16, 2017

Nicky Hamilton’s photo series “The Lonely Man” is an origin story.

It’s about family.

“In the early years my Dad started out as a builder. Things where simple, holidays where plenty and so was the laughter. In the mid-80s my Dad lost his business in a freak incident and had to declare himself bankrupt,” Hamilton writes in an artist’s statement. “Maggie Thatcher’s reign had taken hold, the economy was weak and so was my Dad’s judgement. He turned to crime and crime turned him into a drug addict who would one day call his son and ask me to prevent him from committing suicide.”

His experiences as a boy, he says, led him to become a “very visual person.” One who watches.

“I think it’s a talent that I’ve accumulated through my childhood; a dramatic event would happen, it would be ignored by my parents and I was left to ponder. Creating my own narrative, letting the anxiety build until a tic or some mild form of OCD would appear. ‘Stop that Nicky, why are you clicking your neck,’ my Mum would say. I was reliving the moment my Dad drove his car though the neighbors’ living room in a drunken mess escaping the police. The click was me suppressing the fear, it was my trigger.”

Hamilton, the former Head of Art at the M&C Saatchi ad agency and a self-taught photographer, explores the legacy of his youth in the remarkable project, a 13-piece tableau that visualizes what he recalls as “a maze of police raids, guns, violence and, ultimately, redemption.” The tableaus involved hand-building intricate sets.

“My process is slow and meticulous, it takes around threes months to produce one picture, not helped by the fact that I work solo, desperately trying to stay a purest, at least for this personal feat,” Hamilton notes.

Going slow was part of the point of the project, Hamilton says.

“Four years ago I came to the realization that the photography world was moving too fast. Photography had taken a shift; everyone with a smartphone was keen to show the world their offering and via a flick of a screen it would oblige. I wanted to change the pace,” he writes. “My plan was to work akin to a painter with a canvas, creating the photo and not finding it on location. Four years ago I opened my own studio and have since dedicated my time to this series and my style of creating images.”

Hamilton says his process starts with a sketch, which is then transferred into a 3D image, where he “pre-lights” the set and tests color palettes. He then builds and styles the actual sets and lights them. “I use continuous lighting for a more cinematic and natural feel,” he notes.

See the various stages in the behind-the-scenes shots below.

See more of Hamilton’s work at his website  and Instagram  page.


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