If you’re lucky enough to have crossed paths with Joseph Hill, you’re lucky enough. Joseph, deemed the “unofficial mayor” of Southern Pines, is known for his warm smile, friendly wave, camera around his neck and the enthusiastic “Hey everybody!” when he walks into a room.
The 28 year-old photographer prides himself on spreading joy. He also has a passion for capturing our often-photographed community from his own unique perspective.
His superpower? Autism. As his website says, “Joseph is on a mission to spread positivity and prove that individuals with autism and autism spectrum disorders can be successful entrepreneurs.”
Joseph was diagnosed at age 2 with Autism, and diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 6 years later. At 13, he picked up his mother’s camera and started taking photos — and hasn’t stopped since.
Today, Joseph is the photographer for the Southern Pines Welcome Center, and sells his photography on postcards there. He’s been on the cover of PineStraw Magazine. He works as a contributor to The Pilot.
Joseph and his camera are an almost daily presence on Broad Street. But this week, he’s trading his usual tour-de-downtown for something that is the first of its kind: the U.S. Golf Association’s inaugural U.S. Adaptive Open. In this unique championship, 96 golfers with physical, visual and intellectual impairments from around the world are taking the green at Pinehurst No. 6.
Joseph has been tapped to cover the event alongside fellow team members at The Pilot.
“I am so very proud to say that I will be one of many photographers to cover the first ever U.S. Adaptive Open,” Joseph announced in a post on Instagram. “As a proud photographer who is Autistic, this will be the first time in my life to photograph a first-ever golf tournament.”
He mentioned to our team in the office last week, “I am excited to feature the players and show their best side. I’m nervous because it’s my first time photographing a major golf event.”
On day one of the U.S. Adaptive Open, the Pines gave the golfers Carolina blue skies, 54 percent humidity, sunshine and the bright light that is Joseph Hill.
We were able to catch up with Joseph after his first day on the green.
“So how’d it go?” we asked.
You could hear his smile through the phone.
“I got to see so many adaptive players show their skills. I wanted to do my best photographing the best angles on their first day. It was spectacular, amazing, incredible.”
Two of Joseph’s photos from his first-ever golf tournament made the front page of Sunday’s Pilot.
You can connect with Joseph and see his work on his website or Instagram. Read ‘Photographer with Autism Captures Southern Pines’ Heart’ here. To follow the The Pilot’s U.S. Adaptive Open coverage, check in here.