A couple of months ago we went to California to hunt down some West Coast inspiration. One of our top targets was the photographer Hilary Walsh, someone we've always admired after seeing her provocative work with twins Lexi and Rachel Smith, who are among two of the true originals who inspired our site. With a style that she describes as "cowboy," (though she's no horseman) Hilary makes us think of some sort of luminous Wild West heroine, who's ability to rock a denim shirt from high school is mesmerizing. In her APC jeans (she owns five pairs and, due to her photographer duties, she's had to replace the crotch to each one), and python boots that she cut to the ankle, it's impossible not to romanticize her as a maverick, unencumbered by trends and riding roughshod over the often hollow fashion industry by bringing pictures of consequence and character into the world.
While Hilary emulates the classic 30s and free-spirited vibe of Edward Weston (and looks like someone who could have been in one of his photos), her photographer dad, who told her a photo is only worth something with someone in it, and her nomad mom, who was a weaver and textile designer, remain the creative fuel for her life. A new mother herself, Hilary finds time amidst her robust career to make hand-dyed clothes and bask with her son Henry.
Hilary's preferred subjects are friends as well as girls with "personalities and some flesh on their bones" (instead of the "little boy" fashion industry body types). Traditional fashion models, though, aren't indiscriminately discarded by Hilary. She has dedicated an entire book to the Ford model Lola. About one shot with her muse that involved her wearing her recently deceased grandmother's bathing suit, Hilary says, "It meant something to Lola and it meant something to me. That's the best it can get with photography."
Having shot everyone from Zac Efron to Miranda July, Hilary has preserved a spellbinding humility. "For years I would cry myself to sleep," she reveals. "Now my ego is based on feeling productive and happy. It has nothing do with shooting for the coolest magazine or making more money than someone else. As a mother, I've found a balance. I have family -- things that are free. My life isn't about 'achieving' in any materialistic sense of the term: it's carving out your little niche and living in it." Her style compliments her creed, wearing a hand-me-down Peruvian poncho and old jeans that mold to HER.
xo Elisa & Lily
Video edited by Andrea Cruz.