Behind the Photos: M & D Hills Photography

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On our Facebook page, we share stunning photos of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia everyday.  The majority of these photos are taken by various professional Photographers.  This new series will go “behind the photos” by sharing personal interviews with many of the various area photographers so you can get to know them a little better.

Our first victims…..uh….Photographers are Matt & Delia Hills who run M & D Hills Photography.

M & D Hills Photography Interview

Matt and Delia Hills

Matt and Delia Hills

Hi Matt & Delia, thank for letting us interview you!   Please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Larry, we’re honored to be chosen first and not at all bothered by being your “guinea pigs”. Emoji We are a married couple who spend most of our free time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, photographing wildlife, nature and landscapes. We both share the same passion for photography and our love and respect for all wildlife knows no bounds. Nearly all of our images are taken in the Smokies and many showcase our favorite area of the park, Cades Cove.

Where do you live?

We live in Gatlinburg, TN. – The gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.

How did you get started in photography?

We have both always had an interest in photography, but mostly as a hobby until we met several years ago. At that time we began hiking together and took our camera with us. We always arrived home with images from our adventures in the mountains, and realized that as a couple we truly enjoyed the craft. After sharing our images with family and friends, and they were very complimentary, we thought “Hey, we might just have something here”.

On our hikes we would visit many areas of the park and thereby had the ability to share with people, places and moments in time that they may never see in our beloved mountains. We decided at that time to open a Facebook photography page solely for that purpose. Little did we know at the time that we would be recognized and appreciated by so many. It’s a very humbling experience.

Did you go to school to study photography?  If so where?

We have no formal education in photography. We are self-taught and learned most of the basic skills by learning first about the equipment we owned, and moved on to educating ourselves through manuals, tutorials, videos, photography magazines, and LOTS of reading but mostly trial and error. We feel that our greatest asset is each other and feel blessed that we share the same passion. Where many people learn alone, we have the benefit of talking out everything we are doing and learning together. One important principal regarding photography is that you never stop learning!

How long have you been a photographer?

We began taking photos seriously about four years ago, when I (Delia) married Matt and moved here from Ohio. Professionally for about three years.

Are you a part time photographer or full time?

Matt works full time at his family owned business, Hills Creek Gallery here in Gatlinburg. When he’s not working, we’re out hiking or exploring, looking for new areas to visit, although we spend a great deal of our free time at Cades Cove in the Smokies. While Matt is at the gallery promoting and selling our work, I (Delia) am busy editing, ordering new photos and dealing with clients from home.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t taking photos?

Hiking, exploring, and relaxing evenings at home with our family of five fur babies.

Tell us about your style of photography

We prefer to shoot Wildlife, Nature and Landscape images and feel we do not have a particular “style”. We love to mix up what we do and always stay flexible to what Mother Nature provides. We love to go out when most people prefer to stay home… shooting in the rain, fog and snow is just awesome to us. Our favorite subject is Wildlife as we have a deep respect, love and admiration for all living things.

How do you feel about digitally editing photos?

As most professional photographers realize, the camera’s “eye” does not see what we see. The human eye is a much more complex mechanism than any camera could ever be. Editing is important to adjust your image to be as close as it was when you actually witnessed it. And we all have different perceptions. If all photos came out of the camera like you see them, then heck, wouldn’t everyone be photographers? There are so many facets to photography…. light, settings, angle and composition, to name a few. Editing often times plays a crucial role.

How important is Photoshop to your final product?

Believe it or not, we do have a few images that we’ve never had to adjust. However, Photoshop provides elements of light adjustment, cropping and various resources to process the image to appear as it was. As they adjusted images in the dark room “back in the day”, editing software can provide those key elements in this digital age.

Do you use a Mac or PC?  Why?

We actually have two PCs and both have large monitors. The large monitors allow us to discover our flaws much easier, and decide whether or not an image is worth keeping or scrapping.

What kind of photography gear do you use?

Nikon mostly, a D7100 and a D300, but we also have a Canon body and a few lenses for it. We also have three tripods, a monopod and misc. lenses and accessories that we bring with us in our “Adventure Box”.

If you could carry one camera body and lens and a filter, what would you carry?

That’s a difficult question since we both enjoy shooting. If we each can’t take our own, then probably our Nikon D7100 as it performs well with landscapes as well as wildlife. Our Sigma 150-500mm Telephoto Zoom Lens (in case we see wildlife) and our circular polarizer.

What’s next on your equipment list?

We have a few ideas, but like most photographers, you can never have enough, right? We’re firm believers that it’s not always necessary to have the most expensive equipment to succeed, but rather to know how to operate the equipment you DO have, and to always be “at the ready” to obtain the results you seek.

What’s one or two pro tips that you think novices would benefit the most from?

When taking photos, we believe both luck and skill equally play a factor. Lighting is extremely important so before you go out and shoot, decide which light would be most favorable for what your goals are for that day. Put yourself in situations that might likely allow for photographic opportunities, but knowing your camera equipment and its functions is imperative allowing you the skill to capitalize on those moments. Don’t be afraid to take risks and get your feet (and maybe even yourself) dirty. More than anything, have fun!

Matt & Delia Shooting

Matt & Delia doing what they do best.


Thanks so much to Matt and Delia for taking the time to complete our interview and for being kind enough to share some of their photos with us!

I would absolutely recommend that you follow them on their Facebook page where they share their adventures, photographs, and some amazing videos they put together.   You can also see more of their photos on their websites: http://www.hillscreek.com and http://mattanddelia-hills.artistwebsites.com.

I asked Matt & Delia to share some of their most favorite photos with us.  Here they are in a gallery format, so you can can see them in a larger format. Just click on an image to see it full screen. These are all just wonderful!  All of these photos are Copyright M&D Hills Photography, and are used here with permission.

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