The substantial entries in publications such as the MacMillan Biographical Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists and Innovators and the international directory, Contemporary Photographers, amply testify to the fact that Paul Hill is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential photographers and teachers of photography working in the UK during the last thirty years.
Hill began his career in the Midlands during the 1960s, working as a freelance photojournalist for publications including the Birmingham Post,
The Express and Star, The Guardian, The Observer, The Financial Times, New Society and the Telegraph Magazine. His work was amongst that shown at the World Press Photo Exhibition in The Hague in 1966 and in the following year he was the recipient of the Midlands Press Photographer of the Year Award.
He gradually developed a conviction that the photographic record was more than a simple inventory of appearances. The discovery of what, for him, was the nature of that further dimension, and the need to communicate with others about it led Hill away from commercial photographic documentation towards an area most readily described as fine art oriented practice, located within the context of photographic education.
In 1972 Hill was appointed Head of the joint Nottingham-Trent Polytechnic and Derby College of Higher Education course in Creative Photography. This course was the forerunner of every art photography degree now available, unlacing the straight jacket of technical and vocational photographic higher education.
In 1976, with his wife, Angela, he established The Photographer’s Place, a workshop and study centre at their home in Bradbourne, Derbyshire. It was through workshops here that Hill invoked a powerful presence that helped change the mindset of a generation of British photographers.
During his career Hill's work has been exhibited extensively, and includes individual exhibitions at The Photographers Gallery, London (1972 and
1992); Focus Gallery, San Francisco (1977); Arnolfini, Bristol (1978); Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield (1980); Stills Gallery, Edinburgh (1990) and Derby Museum and Art Gallery (1995). He has also been involved in group exhibitions at The Serpentine Gallery, London (1973); the V&A (1980); and The Barbican Art Gallery, London (1989). His work is held in the permanent collections of many major galleries and museums, including in this country the V&A, the British Council and the Arts Council; and, overseas, the Japanese Photography Foundation, the Australian National Gallery and the Bibliotheque Nationale.
Hill has written several seminal books on photography, whilst also being the subject of many articles. His published works include Dialogue with Photography (1979), which he co-wrote with Thomas Joshua Cooper, Approaching Photography (1982) and White Peak, Dark Peak (1990).
Paul Hill has received numerous awards in recognition of his role in British photography, including a Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society (1990), a fellowship of the Hasslebald Foundation (1993), and an M.B.E.(1994). He now works as Course Leader of the MA in Photography at De Montfort University in Leicester.
The archive of Paul Hill [MS 2294] is available at Birmingham City Archives.