Francis Hills is known as the Accidental Photographer, and for a compelling reason: Five years ago, after losing his job during the dot.com bust, Hills picked up a point-and-shoot and discovered his true passion. His serendipitous journey only intensified from that point on. Just three months after he started shooting, he decided on a whim to write a letter to actor and fellow Brit Alan Cumming to request a photo shoot with him. To his delight, Cumming accepted, jump-starting Hills’ professional photography career.
Today, Hills is a sought-after photographer in the celebrity, beauty, and fashion genres-not bad for a guy who confessed that he stumbled through much of that initial photo shoot with Cumming. Stars like Liz Phair, Vanessa Minnillo, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Piven, and Tatum O’Neal (this month’s cover shot) have all pouted, preened, and shown off their pearly whites in front of his lens. The secret to his impressive overnight success? An easy rapport with every person who steps in front of his lens-whether it’s a superstar or an unknown fashion model, an eye for art, and an aspiration to make every image iconic.