Meet our Production Team: Kevin Hoth, Photographer & Videographer.
Though Kevin Hoth very rarely appears in front of the camera in our posts, blogs and footage, he’s been the eye behind more than a few recognizable shots of the tiny house.
For example—that photo of Christopher and me working in front of the tiny house, taken from behind the reeds in an irrigation ditch by the building site? Or the shot of Christopher and me nailing a piece of roof trim in the light of an August sunset? Those were both taken by Kevin, a bit off-handedly with his iPhone, while he balanced the Canon 5D that he uses for filming on his other arm.
I first met Kevin a few years ago (we shared a temp job packing soap boxes, long story…) and had been following his photography work on facebook and on his tumblr for a few years when Christopher and I began the tiny house project. We were looking for another videographer to supplement our own footage of the building process, and I knew that Kevin’s eye for small details and spacious landscapes would help to convey the personality of this project and the land of Colorado where it’s so strongly rooted.
Since joining the project in August, Kevin has also been behind the camera for some of the most dramatic shots in our trailer—including some of the intro shots that show the land around Hartsel, Colorado, and the jib shot of Christopher installing the roof cap at the end.
To help you all get to know Kevin and his work a bit more, I sat down with him (via email) for a short interview. Whether Kevin’s thoughts inspire you to see your own surroundings in more creative ways, or to pick up your iPhone camera a little more often, we hope you enjoy it!
Merete: What initially drew you to photography?
Kevin: I actually used to set up my GI Joes and photograph them flying through the air doing jumps in their jeeps and such, and then later on I photographed myself and my friends doing skateboarding tricks, but more seriously I began photographing when I did some road trips though the West by myself after college.
I think what initially drew me to photography (like many folks) was simply enjoying the visual pause on a nice scene. I think that’s why I still do it. It gives me time to reflect on a moment — even if I’ve constructed it.
Merete: What inspires you, makes you want to pick up your camera and shoot?
Kevin: Good light on anything inspires me, really. Also a grouping of things that I find interesting together. A small spark from just the pleasure of seeing an interesting composition. I like to wander when I have few minutes and often that’s all I need to find something gorgeous. Give me a nice metal trash can lid and I’m pretty happy! The other night I shot a photo on my way out of a fashion show. It’s of some astro turf on the floor, but the way the light hits it—it looks like a pyramid. I love finding this kind of ambiguous space because it’s timeless. People generally look at me strangely because they probably have no idea what I am photographing!
[Rather than people or faces], I prefer to photograph some sense of nothingness. I like the feeling of being surrounded by empty space, and so that’s what I try to capture in my photos. My favorite place to be is with my camera in the middle of nowhere— preferably when no one knows where I am.
Silence and emptiness inspire me, generally, and I think people need more of that.
I used to be more interested in making work that comments directly on or reflects the times that we live in, but I guess now I’m more interested in making windows for people to look through—just showing people that everything is space. I’m drawn to open spaces with some kind of human leftovers or ambiguous spaces that are hard to pin down visually.
Merete: How is filmmaking and working with video different from still photography? How do your still photography skills come into play when you are filming?
Kevin: Video, or at least filmmaking via video, is definitely more challenging because your observance has to be constantly on point, watching how the action is changing and adapting to that. It can be more fun in some ways: predicting and capturing things unfolding and moving through the frame. I also enjoy being able to look away at times from the rolling camera to connect with what I am capturing. Eventually I’d like to just go out to look without a camera – though that may never happen.
What’s similar between film and photography is light and composition–photographers are at a huge advantage when moving into into film and video.
Merete: What interests you about the tiny house project?
Kevin: Living with less interests me. (Being an artist in America requires that I get used to living with less, anyway!)
When we’re about to die I think we’ll regret not spending more time outdoors and with the people we love.
Working more to buy lots of things or pay to maintain an excessive residence seems pointless. Having a low-maintenance habitation (that doesn’t suck the life out of it’s own environment) and life allows one to live more freely in my opinion.
Merete: When you arrive at the building site to film, what are some of the things you notice?
Kevin: When I get to the site I look for objects that simply look good together (an orange clamp and green glue bottle, for example.)
I also look for things that represent the building process or the current state of the actual house. A rusted saw shows the passing of time or the passing of winter. Light from behind a plastic sheet shows hope, illumination, purity—which relates to living in a low impact house. I’m also just pretty infatuated with the way light comes thru a plastic sheet or bounces blue and silver light off corrugated metal.
As a photographer I focus more on details, surfaces, and patterns and this relates to structure, building, materials.
Merete: What about the land near Hartsel and Fairplay, where the tiny house will eventually rest? I remember when we first met with you about the project, you said that you loved that particular part of Colorado. What about that landscape appeals to you?
Kevin: The land around Fairplay and Hartsel appeals to me because it’s wide open – you can breathe and look out for a long way. You can interact with wild animals. You can see for miles, stretch out your mind and your vision. You’re not boxed in by hordes of impolite people and buildings and trash bags. I recently stayed in an Earth Ship in Taos, NM and that seems like the only way to not have a footprint on the earth as far as a living space. It heats itself, you grow your own food in the house, you use no municipal water, electricity, etc. Perfectly sustainable.
As we wrap up the film and work on our Behind the Scenes footage, we’re excited to hear more from Kevin. And stay tuned, because this definitely won’t be his last film project—Kevin’s currently working on a script and plans to someday direct and shoot it, among the other ideas for documentaries that he’s stumbled across in his travels.
~ Written by Merete Mueller, 4/28/2012
All photos by Kevin Hoth (except for the ones he’s in—those were taken by Merete Mueller.)