Steve Hilton-Barber was born in Tzaneen, Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo Province) in 1962, into a farming family. He received a Bachelor of Journalism and Media Studies degree from Rhodes University. In 1986 he joined Afrapix and worked as a stringer for Reuters in the Eastern Cape.
His 1990 photo-essay on a Northern Sotho initiation ceremony, entitled “The savage noble and the noble savages. Photography and an African Initiation”, engendered much debate. He photographed semi-naked to naked initiates gathered in the indigenous bush in the foothills of the Northern Drakensberg mountains in a circumcision ceremony - their journey into manhood.
With this series Hilton-Barber challenged the taboo of secrecy around such ceremonies, as well as that around the depiction of the male nude in the South African press and issues of the relation of power between photographer and subject. Amid the controversy, the photographs were stolen from the walls of the Market Theatre's gallery. The aesthetic value of the images, however, was unquestioned.
That same year he left Afrapix, and started SouthLight Photographic agency with Paul Weinberg. In 1992 he worked at the Saturday Star, and in 1993-94 at the Mail and Guardian. He died of a heart attack on 23 May 2002.
Steve Hilton-Barber: Curriculum Vitae
"Born on an avocado farm in the foothills of the northern Drakensburg Mountains in Tzaneen, South Africa, Worked in hard news, feature, travel, advertising, corporate, and art photography. Travelled through Africa, Europe, Asia and America documenting peoples' lives, their conditions of existence and their cultures."
2002: Pop Idols photographer.
Exhibition "It's a Wildlife and My Wife Loves her Bushveld", Month of Photography, Cape Town, South Africa.
2001: Johannesburg, South Africa
Fuji Press Photographer Awards for People in the News and Features.
Face of Africa 2001, Official Photographer.
Photo Espana 2001, Spanish Photographic Festival, "Initiation" series exhibited.
Official Photographer for "Big Brother" TV program.
Culture, Craft and Infrastructure, Lubombo SDI.
2000: Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Swaziland National Trust Commission Photographic Project.
Contract Photographer- Independent on Saturday- Durban.
"Maputo Corridor Photographic Exhibition" at the Durban Art Gallery (Including at "Red Eye" event at Durban Art Gallery).
"Maputo Corridor Photographic Exhibition" - the "POP EDIT" at the Natal Society of the Arts (NSA) Gallery.
"Maputo Corridor Photo Exhibition" at the South African National Library, Cape Town.
1999: Maputo Corridor Photographic Project. Exhibition at World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD), Bluegum Creek, Benoni.
Radio Safari. Presenter and producer of Wild Weekend. Maputo Photographic exhibitions, Mozambique. FACIM. Mozambican Photographers' Gallery.
1998: "It's Wildlife", exhibition at Promenade Concourse, Nelspruit.
Maputo Corridor Photographic Exhibitions at the National Parliament in Cape Town, at Riverside Mall, and at the Lubombo Border Post.
1997: Apple Mac Course, Photoshop, Quark and Freehand (Concept AdvertisingAgency).
Founder of Exposure Multi Media Agency, Nelspruit, South Africa.
1996: Freelance Photography. Travelling in the USA
1995: Official Photographer, Johannesburg Biennale.
Official Photographer for Yehudi Menuhin tour. Travelling in Europe.
1994: Weekly Mail and Guardian, Chief Photographer.
Curator of "Ego Eclectics" exhibition, opening exhibition at the Bensusan's Museum of Photography at the new Museum Africa, Johannesburg.
1993: Weekly Mail and Guardian, Chief Photographer, Johannesburg. Press Photographers Group, Executive member.
1992: Saturday Star, Chief Photographer, Argus Group, Johannesburg.
1991: Southlight Photographer. Marketing Southlight in Western Europe.
"Initiation" series exhibited at Haus der Kulturen der Weld, Berlin, Germany.
Perpignon Photographic Festival, France.
1990: Founder of Southlight Photographic Agency.
Institute of Professional Photographers Awards and Staffrider Award for "Initiation" series.
1989: Staffrider Award for "Voelvry" series on alternative, dissident Afrikaans music tour.
South African Union of Journalist freelance representative.
1988: Afrapix Photographic Editor and Marketing Manager.
1987: Afrapix photographer.
Reuters stringer in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Apprenticeship under Obie Oberholzer, Department of Fine Art, Rhodes University.
1986: Afrapix photographer.
1985: Bachelor of Journalism. Rhodes University. Grahamstown. Sociology and Journalism majors.
Editor of Rhodeo, student newspaper.
Editor of the Alternative Media Society.
- “Dislocation: Artists” [online] Available at: arquired.es [Accessed 15 April 2009]|Obituary: Steve Hilton Barber [online] Available at: 3rdearmusic.com [Accessed 15 April 2009]
- Steve Hilton-Barber - Curriculum Vita - http://www.axisgallery.net/exhibitions/circumcision/cv-barber.html