Artist Spotlight: Jamil Hellu

Hellu's series "Guardians of the Golden Gate" mingles cosplay, heroism, and self-expression in the City by the Bay.



You often pose your subjects in very public places. It is San Francisco, of course, so people are more accustomed to that, but has anything out of the usual happened during a photo shoot?
One of my subjects is a transsexual who wanted to be photographed in front of the Transamerica building in the Financial District of San Francisco. We scheduled the shoot for Presidents’ Day, hoping fewer people would be around. It was cold and very windy. As soon as I setting up my camera on the tripod, someone heading to the garage asked us if we worked in the building. I said yes. I knew then I had to work fast before getting into trouble. I saw the security guard getting out of the building and walking toward us. I told my friend, “We gotta do this now! Put your mask on and take your jacket off.” I quickly took two pictures. When I turned around, someone said to the security guard, “Look! It’s Spider Woman!” I nodded and that was it. It was the fastest photo shoot I have ever done in my life.