Steve Hilton-Barber

Steve Hilton-Barber was a South African photography and at the time of his death in 2002, he was the official photographer for Idols South Africa. Before his sudden death, he worked with Dave Thompson, Marcus Brewster, Penny Lebyane and Randall Abrahams who were judges and Candy Litchfield, Matthew Stewardson and Sami Sabiti who were hosts of Idols SA season 1.

Steve Hilton-Barber and his wife Monica
Steve Hilton-Barber and his wife Monica.

Steve was one of the most adventurous of South Africa’s younger generation of photographers. His work ranged from news photography during South Africa’s unrest years to portraiture, wildlife, music photography and work in the commercial realm.

The descendant of a farming family, and one of several siblings to distinguish himself in the media, Hilton-Barber was a founding member of the Afrapix and Southlight photo agencies. He worked for the Saturday Star in 1992 and was the chief photographer on the Mail & Guardian in 1993 and 1994. He subsequently worked as a freelancer, and in early 2002 he found himself involved in controversy when several of his “funky” images were removed from a show commissioned by Nedbank.

Steve Hilton-Barber died of a heart attack at age 39 in May 2002 before season 1 of Idols SA ended, he is survived by his wife Monica and their child Benjamin.

“Steve always sought out contradictions in life,” said his brother Brett Hilton-Barber. “He seemed to be drawn to the zaniness, the black humour, in life.” He was a fun-loving, engaging person with enthusiastic appetites; a man who, as his friend Michael Markovitz put it, “thought crooked and shot straight”.

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