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Kharen Hill ‘The Annie Leibovitz of Canada’

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Kharen Hill is an award-winning photographer, who is best known for her portraits of famous celebrities. Among other celebrities, Hill has worked with Clint Eastwood, Neil Patrick Harris, Alec Baldwin, Ron Howard, and the Kiss. She has won national awards in the US for her advertising series documenting spinal cord injuries in teens for a North American campaign for Prevention. A dual national of New Zealand and Canada, and a US resident of the State of California, she travels all over the United States, Canada and the world for her projects. 

Kharen first received recognition as a photographer from the creative director, Paul Smith. Her first project was a year-long project for Air Canada, where she was one of the two photographers who flew around the world and took photos of every destination that they flew to. Her big chance came in 1998 when her portraits of singer Sarah McLachlan lead to recognition by MGM creative advertising head Randi Braun, and she was given the opportunity to shoot the gallery for the movie “Disturbing Behavior”, which starred Katie Holmes and was her first feature-length film. This led to the launch of worldwide billboard campaigns and the covers of magazines worldwide. This project showed Kharen ground breaking creative approach and was recognized in the field of entertainment advertising for its treatment on the images that set it apart and gave it a unique look than any other campaigns.

Having first specialized in travel reportage and advertising photography, Kharen decided to transition onto entertainment photography. In the mid-1990s as Vancouver became a major production center, it gave Kharen a chance to build her career as an entertainment advertising photographer earning her the nickname ‘The Annie Leibovitz of Canada’. She was the first-ever female photographer to be admitted to the local Vancouver chapter of the film industry union, IATSE 669. 

She worked with Creative House for many projects for Expo 86 and her photographs were published in the commemorative book “Expo Celebration” and “Vancouver – A Year in Motions”. This experience helped catapult her career and opened doors for her to many advertising clients and other companies in Vancouver and worldwide.  

During the 80s and the 90s, Kharen built up her portfolio working on photography assignments for clients such as Coca-Cola, Boston Pizza, Toyota, Lexus, Cathay Pacific Asian Tours, and Air Canada among many.  

After Kharen decided to create a part-time base in both Los Angeles and Vancouver, and focus full-time on entertainment advertising and directing, she began collaborating with MGM on a regular basis in Los Angeles and other locations around the country. Kharen went on to collaborate with MGM on more projects including; Carrie 2, The Mod Squad, and Mollie. 

Thanks to her work for MGM, she is one of the few photographers who are regularly called on to do gallery and poster film work in North America. Working regularly and steadily on film and television projects earned Kharen respect and recognition in the industry putting her into a select group of less than 30 photographers worldwide who are hired for their unique style and approach to creating visuals for the most famous brands worldwide. In the meanwhile, she continues working with her major brand advertising and corporate clients and is now directing motion projects including commercials for the largest brands in the world.


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