Jane Hilton is a photographer and filmmaker whose works explores the everyday realities of American culture. She began her career as a classical musician, graduating with a BA in Music and Visual Art from Lancaster University. However, her love for photography brought her to London where she completed various administrative roles before embarking on her photography career in 1988. It was in this same pivotal year that she discovered her fascination with American culture on a trip to Arizona.
Jane has achieved recognition for her documentation of the American West; specifically, her practice focuses on legal but morally ambiguous activities in American society. In 2000, the BBC commissioned her to make Love for Sale, a ten-part documentary series on brothels in Nevada where prostitution is legal. This project also culminated in a monograph which depicts intimate portraits of the women Jane got to know during her stay. Other notable works include Jane’s critically acclaimed monograph Dead Eagle Trail (2010) which gives a fascinating insight into cowboy culture. Jane brilliantly captures the dichotomies of American culture, contrasting the harsh realities of crime and money with fantastical perceptions of the American dream. This is perhaps most explicit in her Las Vegas series Forever Stars Now (1994) capturing Vegas weddings. She has recently decided to revisit this theme in her latest and ongoing series All Lit Up.
In each of her projects, Jane lives and immerses herself in the cultures she depicts. Her dedication to uncovering the extraordinary lives of ordinary people is highly commendable. She has an extremely nuanced ability to walk the precarious line between legal realities and moral truths in a way that forces us to question our own stances on these difficult topics.
By Venetia Jolly