Hamill’s iconic black-and white images of celebrities include John Lennon, Robert De Niro, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Warren Beatty, Jackie Gleason and John Huston.
They are on display adjacent to the hotel’s lobby and cascading down walls of the Sevilla Wing staircase.
All of the framed pieces on display are fine-art limited-edition prints available for purchase through the hotel’s concierge.
For the last 45 years, Hamill has photographed myriad subjects — everything from rock ’n’ roll to politics to entertainment and sports.
His career began in the mid-1960s, when he worked as an assistant to several top fashion photographers. He first gained recognition for his work photographing boxing.
He was later sent to Northern Ireland in 1972 to cover the country’s violent, war-like conflict, The Troubles, for The New York Times Magazine. About that time, he also began working as a unit still photographer on movie sets, eventually working on over 75 films, including 26 Woody Allen movies. In 1995, he was honored to have his photography work exhibited in a one-man show at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
In an interview with La Jolla Village News, Hamill talked about his photographic career and what’s inspired his work.
“I’m lucky to be in La Valencia, it’s a great hotel and the people that run it are really nice,” said Hamill noting he and the hotel are “a good partnership.”
Noting La V’s 52 images, including many celebrities, are just a sampling of his work over the years, Hamill pointed out his subjects, alive and dead, have stood “the test of time.”
A boxer when he was young, Hamill was drawn to photographing Muhammed Ali and the man he beat for the heavyweight title, Sonny Liston as well as famed middleweight “Sugar” Ray Robinson.
Hamill’s La V exhibit also includes modern-era stars like Queen Latifah and Robert Downey, Jr.
Asked if there was a Hollywood star today he hasn’t photographed, but would like to, Hamill replied, “Jennifer Lawrence. I find her to be unpretentious and sexy. Nothing fake about her. Not afraid to be honest.”
Hollywood greats Hamill wished he’d photographed include Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Steve McQueen.
Hamill’s partial to black-and-white photography because “you can dream more, fantasize more” with it like it has “an absence of reality,” whereas color is “so literal.”
Of Hamill, celebrities have said:
“He’s got eyes in the back of his head. … He’s got soul. … Irish to the marrow. … Hamill is a mug who takes pretty pictures. He can compose, he can light, and he’s to the point.” — Woody Allen
“Still photography on movie sets requires great skill. To capture actors in performance, unobtrusively and poignantly, is no easy task. But the results can be magnificent archives of the process. Brian Hamill is one of the best, perhaps THE best, the movies have ever known.” – Alec Baldwin
“I’ve known Brian a long time. In fact, it’s been so long, I forget where we first met! We hung out with mutual friends. I still run into him once in a while. The pictures he made on the set of that movie are really very special.” — Robert De Niro regarding his photography on “Raging Bull.”