Lighting up Laramie

Cory Hill adjusts a lighting rig Tuesday afternoon at the University of Wyoming’s Arts and Sciences Auditorium.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

Cory Hill followed his high school girlfriend to theater class and discovered his true love — lighting.

“As the teacher discussed all the things that needed to happen, I decided I didn’t want to be on stage,” Hill said. “So, I did all the technical things — I built the stage, I learned lights and I did makeup.”

While he and his then-girlfriend eventually parted ways, he found himself enthralled by the theater life, which eventually led to the University of Wyoming, where he earned a degree in lighting design.

Nowadays, Hill works as a senior technician for the UW Technical Services Department. But even though his job focuses on lighting design for various UW events, he found himself looking for a creative outlet.

“I’ve always gone to the music shows,” Hill said. “I love the live music scene.”

Although he enjoyed the music he heard at shows in Laramie, he left each jam session feeling like something was missing.

“With music, adding a little art makes a big difference,” he said. “For me, light is that art.”

To fill the void he saw in Laramie’s live music scene, he bought a few lighting setups and founded Laramie Lights about a month ago.

“My mission as a lighting designer is not to steal the show, but to enhance it,” he said. “Without lighting at an exciting show like Redbush, the music is there, but you can’t see anything.”

Hill approaches lighting from a personal perspective.

“I go by how it makes me feel,” he said. “In theater, blue is a good color for sad scenes, then dim it down to make it more personal.”

As the lights dim, people focus less on what’s surrounding the scene, he said.

“It gets harder to see, so people lean in and pay more attention,” Hill explained.

Laramie Lights has worked with Relative Theatrics, and Hill said as the business grows, he could accommodate several types of events, such as weddings. But currently, he said his lighting equipment is primarily for live music.

“Getting started, one of the challenges has been learning the new equipment,” Hill said. “I started out with a small 14-channel lighting board, but I picked up a computer program that allows me to do a lot. So, I’m learning that as well.”

Because Laramigos have become accustomed to attending shows without professional lighting, he said it’s been difficult convincing venues of the need for good lighting options.

“People have gotten so used to it that generating interest has been a challenge,” Hill said.

As he continues to work for UW, he said he hopes his side business can grow to the point of one day providing lighting to Laramie, Cheyenne and Fort Collins, Colorado.

“I have to prioritize UW, because that pays the bills,” Hill said, “but if I can grow this bigger than just a hobby that pays for itself, that would be my goal.”

Email Hill at coryhill@laramielights.com for more information about event lighting.

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