Matt Hill’s Paper Burlesque & Night Paper Project (NSFW)

My colleague Matt Hill has succeeded in fusing his two main artistic passions, night photography and cut paper art, in his ongoing project entitled Night Paper. It’s been exciting to watch him find the heart of this amalgamation, and even more exciting, it has culminated (for the time being) in a live art experiment in New York. Read his own account of the execution and find full details of how you can witness this in person below.

©Matt Hill

©Matt Hill

NIGHT PAPER is a personal project I started dreaming about over five years ago and began executing last July. It’s the combination of long exposures at night and surreal, hand-cut paper fashions. I live for playing with time-dialtion and by introducing portraiture at night, especially when they are only wearing paper, makes for a visually challenging combination of the practices. I’m constantly surprised by how well they blend and continue to evolve together. And, it must be said, all of these images are done in-camera. There are no composites in this series. Also, since this involves tasteful nudity in the context of fine art, you may want the NSFW warning if you are in the wrong place…

I use PocketWizard technology on every NIGHT PAPER shoot. I carry no less than seven units with me – one MiniTT1 and AC3 ZoneController, two FlexTT5 units, and five Plus III units. I use them to trigger both flashes and cameras. It’s the invisible glue holding my ideas together and allows me the freedom to be anywhere in my scene while working out these crazy ideas.

©Matt Hill

©Matt Hill

My primary light is a Profoto AcuteB with a PocketWizard built-in. I use a Magnum Reflector with a grid – it’s my current favorite main portrait light, even though it’s a real pain in the ass to carry around on location due to the size of the reflector. My second light source is a Nikon SB900 and I use a variety of light modifiers from small softboxes to snoots to booming it up on a long pole. Having this on a FlexTT5 with my AC3 ZoneController on the camera makes it easier for my assistants to not have to adjust power controls in darkness.

My third flash is a trusty old Vivitar 283 with the manual variator dial on the front.

Without flash, this project would indeed be different, and not in a good way. I must arrest the model first before introducing time-bending elements. This may involve more flashing after the initial burst while they move around, moving more light sources through the scene, letting the ambient light “bake in” on moving elements in the scene and more.

Behind the scenes of Matt's Rockaway shoot. ©Matt Hill

Behind the scenes of Matt Hill’s Rockaway shoot. ©Gabriel Biderman

Having a flash trigger that always fires and eliminates annoying cables, and makes my investment in 1-minute to 1-hour exposures worth it. Nothing is worse than standing around for all that time and then discovering something didn’t fire. Compound that with the fact I often shoot with two more cameras simultaneously. My main camera is a Nikon D700, but I also shoot with a Mamiya 7II, LOMO Belair X 6-12 and a Toyo VX125 4×5″ camera. When a film shot doesn’t get a flash, it’s waaay more expensive — both in terms of time wasted and money spent on processing and purchasing the film.

Explaining my process for the paper art is best shown:

Here is a video of me making the cut paper for Paper Burlesque.

Event Details:

PAPER BURLESQUE – A Live Art Experiment
May 19, 2013 8-10pm (Doors at 7pm)
$15 Presale / $20 Door
“A Must-See Surreal Spectacle”
Join the Slipper Room Gallery and artist Matt Hill as we present an experience unlike any that has come before. We suggest you leave your preconceptions at the door.

Come see a live burlesque art show where all the dancers are clad in paper fashions created by Matt Hill. As part of his ongoing project, NIGHT PAPER, Matt will also be doing a live photo shoot of burlesque dancers during the performance.


  • Coltrane
  • Clara Coquette
  • Falana Fox
  • Matt Knife
  • Rosabelle Selavy
  • Heather Whatever
  • Sincerely Yours


  • Todd Beers

Event location:

  • ​Slipper Room, 167 Orchard St, New York, NY ​(212) 253-7246 |‎

Incidentally, you can also see an exhibition of nine of the NIGHT PAPER photographs in the gallery at the Slipper Room through June 2nd, including the evening of the PAPER BURLESQUE show.

See more of Matt’s Night Paper project at and learn more about his process.
Follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+


All images, video and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Matt Hill, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or re-post elsewhere without written permission.

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.