An Interview with photographer, Lily Holman
Photo by Jules at Rockrose Photography https://www.rockrosephotography.co.uk/
Tell us about your background and career so far?
From a young age, I’ve always been creative and loved making and creating art. I studied photography throughout school, spending my days in the darkroom experimenting with black and white film and paper. This then led to Bristol where I studied a Creative Practises Degree, majoring in Photography. I spent 4 fond years in the darkroom or out shooting on old film cameras, and it was at this time that I knew my creative calling – becoming a professional photographer.
I have now been working as a professional for 10 years (this year is my 10th anniversary) and I have absolutely loved my journey. I have tried many different styles of photography from products to landscapes and weddings, but I have always loved working with people. People are my thing! Now I work as a portrait and branding photographer working with a multitude of clients in and around the South West. My work revolves around headshots to portraits for personal branding to social media image branding and corporate business and social events.
What have some of your challenges been to date?
The most challenging part of my career was when I moved to Vancouver for four years to pursue my dreams of becoming an international photographer. The challenge was the sheer competitiveness in such a saturated market. Vancouver is a beautiful city with bountiful opportunities where I grew, learnt and mastered my skills as a photographer. It took over a year of trying to market my small business to a city I knew very little about, to realise I needed to find out HOW to become a photographer, not just expect it to happen overnight. So, I decided the best route for me to take was to assist other photographers, listen and learn how to master the trade of being a professional rather than it being a hobby.
What have some of your most notable successes been to date?
A year after my degree I was asked to show some of my images at a photography exhibition on Brick Lane in London. Going from my final degree show to central London was quite the step up and great achievement. I didn’t sell anything but met some fantastic people from the photography industry and thoroughly enjoyed showing off my new and exciting abstract work to the world.
I also met many wonderful photographers during my time in Vancouver and a few really did help me achieve what I thought would never be possible.
Through networking, countless meetings and interviews I started work as an assistant photo editor for Momentum Magazine, an internationally acclaimed cycling magazine in Vancouver. I worked for them for 6 months which led to a myriad of opportunities; including finding my own clients, developing editing skills and learning how to fulfil my dreams of being a professional.
I also worked for the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) at a few of their annual events where I met some of the world’s best photographers. Working for Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) as an event photographer was also a huge highlight.
All were such amazing experiences, not just as a photographer but also learning how to network and be able to talk about my photography in a more professional capacity.
What are you passionate about; what are the values that drive you, personally and professionally?
I am passionate about people. People fascinate me! Every human is unique; therefore, everyone will photograph differently. I strive to bring out the best in people’s personalities and also hope that when they look at their photograph, they will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
I am driven by passion and the knowledge that I can produce great photographs of people. I know that sounds proud, but it’s taken years to overcome a lack of confidence that I think a lot of other creatives struggle with.
What one piece of advice has stood you in good stead during your career to date?
‘Just keep going, you’re great at what you do!’
Being a photographer is no easy task, there are highs and lows for sure. There have been times when I have just wanted to give up and seen no light at the end of the tunnel, but I am lucky enough to have a big following online and a wonderful family who support me and my dreams. The quote above is from a whole host of people telling me how much they believe in me. This has driven me to stay focused and keep doing what I love!
What advice would you give yourself if you could time-travel back 10 years?
Great question and so very fitting for right now!
Ten years ago, I would have no idea I would be where I am today having travelled the world, met the people I’ve met, photographed the people I’ve photographed and worked as hard as I have.
But looking back, I think I would have told myself to look more into the business side of HOW to become a photographer. You can be absolutely amazing at taking photos and working with clients but if you have zero business knowledge, the road to a full-time career in photography will be much harder because taking photos is only part of the job. Marketing, branding, social media, budgeting and confidence are many other factors that you must take into account when starting up as a photographer.
What do you like to do outside of work time for fun, rest and relaxation?
Go outdoors! The world is a beautiful place and we are lucky enough to live in such a wonderful part of our planet. So, I explore, hike, wild swim and of course take pictures! I am also an avid cyclist and yogi and try my best to keep fit when I can. When exercise and the outdoors are not an option I love to be with family and friends and sip on a large glass of Sauvignon.
Do you have any funny anecdotes connected to your career?
A funny pizza story yes!
My sister who is a film producer in Bristol hired me as a photographer for a shoot she was doing with Dr Oetker, to promote their Chicago Pizzas. The set up for the filming and photography was in a house in Bristol, themed with everything PIZZA. I mean everything! On arrival we walked into what I can only describe as a house of pizza, literally everything had been turned into pizza themed objects from pizza wallpaper, carpets, framed images on the wall to a pizza themed scrabble board. It was totally bonkers! The day was absolutely hilarious, the team were fantastic, and we just had a laugh. I also got to be bossed around by my little sister which was funny because I am normally the bossy one!
What does the future hold for you?
I’m in a really good place at the moment with my career and personal life. I have managed to create a beautiful balance between the two and hope to keep it this way for the foreseeable. I’ve really enjoyed my new path into branding photography and working with such a variety of clients. No shoot is the same and where the shoots take place can range so much, from fields, to the woods, to beautiful artists’ studios and such. I firmly believe that if you enjoy what you do, keep doing it. As my favourite photographer once said ‘I think life is too short not to be doing something which you really believe in’ Steve McCurry – National Geographic portrait photographer.
To get in touch with Lily, pop onto her website – https://www.lilyholman.com/
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