For 40 years, I've photographed myself on my birthday wearing nothing but my white Lollipop underpants, shoes and socks. I made my first Birthday Suit self-portrait in Death Valley, CA in 1974.
Without fail, I've faced my camera every April 22nd since then to create a coded history of one woman's journey through time.
As a girl-child of the 1950s, I came of age before women's lib, and wanted to buck the stereotypes of a culture that branded me a pretty girl, thin enough to be a fashion model and not much more. Armed with my camera and tripod, I found a way to define myself on my own terms in the most open, vulnerable way I could.
My long-term project will continue for as long as I live. In 2015, I turn 70. I'm currently working on a book & film about my Birthday Suits.
Editors' Note: After being named a LensCulture Emerging Talent in 2014, Hilmer's work became a world-wide phenomenon! In just a few short weeks, her work was seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe. In Hilmer's own words:
"For decades I kept my photographs in boxes in a closet, or at best, on walls of my small, apartment living room. Now, thanks to LensCulture's amazing international reach, one of my projects, "Birthday Suits: A Woman, Her Camera & Time" is known all over the world.
At my age, it's such a gift knowing that what I've spent a lifetime doing has touched others. I'm still getting emails from women and men of all ages and countries thanking me for what I've done.
Wow! What a gift that is, and without you and your wonderful website, none of this would have been possible."