Virginia Hines began photographing when, as a high school student, her parents (both newspaper editors) handed her a Pentax SLR - set at f/11, loaded with Tri-X - with a Honeywell flash, and sent her around town on "idiot-proof" assignments, shooting the likes of large garden vegetables, ladies luncheons, and presentations of jumbo facsimile checks. Scrupulously saving her $1.60 per hour minimum wage earnings, in due time she managed to buy her first camera, a Singapore-made Rolleiflex SL35 with a 50mm Zeiss lens. In college at Rice University she studied photography with Geoff Winningham and came to favor the 4x5 format. Encouraged by receiving "honorable mention" in a show judged by Garry Winogrand, she bought her second camera, a Calumet 4x5. In its rigid case this camera still sits in the back of her closet and provides an excellent step for reaching items on the top shelf.
After graduation, awakening to the need to keep a roof overhead and food on the table, Virginia adopted the family profession and began working in publishing, putting serious photography aside for a long time. She spent five years in the Washington, DC, bureau of Fairchild Publications; later, in New York, she launched the first business publication focused on bioinformatics and genomics. As the internet gained traction, Virginia got an MBA from UCLA and started working at Yahoo, the dominant internet company at the time.
In 2016, a workshop with Bruce Gilden was an inspiration and a wakeup call. Observing that the best photographers never stop pursuing artistic growth, Virginia began seeking out opportunities to shoot in the Bay Area and elsewhere that stretched her skills and comfort zone. She took more workshops, including from Harvey Stein, who became an important mentor. Also at this time, inspired by Gilden, Stein, and other photographers she admired, she began using digital Leica rangefinders. Their greater manual control echoes her affinity for the view camera, while the compact size better fits her current shooting style.
Today Virginia lives in San Francisco and is a frequent contributor to Street Photography Magazine. Her photos have appeared in a number of print and online publications and she has been invited to join group shows in the US and Europe. Current projects include exploring Alcatraz from the perspective of Covid-era themes of confinement, isolation, and social control; The Loneliest Road, shooting along socially distant Western backroads; and China on the Move, images made from a moving train traveling across China's once-cultural, now industrial heartland that reveal the country's social and environmental challenges in fresh ways. You can follow her progress @vhines_photos on Instagram.
For me, the reason to make art is to help heal humanity's many self-inflicted wounds; to bring to light patterns and themes, commonalities and, I hope, compassion, through the unflinching observation of a wide swathe of phenomena. This vision motivates me to venture into the world with a camera and start chipping away at an impossibly immense goal. One of my photographer icons, Dorothea Lange, observed, "I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck." Following her advice, I jump in the deep end and hope for the best. I also feel it's essential for an artist to be a truth-teller; all the more so as culture bends away from authenticity toward the highly performative. Yes, there are no absolute truths, but I want to document my truth in photographs that may not be completely truthful in and of themselves but, through synecdoche, aim at conjuring a more universal meaning.