Wednesday, 26 November 2014

in the mind of / hollie fernando

The anticipation can now be indulged as it's finally time for part two to hit your screens. This time around you can feast your eyes on beautiful pictures and my usual nattering.

From bare skin projects, to the fierce world of fashion, to being flown across the seas to shoot festivals, freelance photographer Hollie Fernando is not afraid to get her hands dirty with her fingers in all the pies.

Focusing more now on fashion photography, If You Leave Showcase Public Prize winner of 2014 was kind enough to put her camera down for just long enough to let me pick her brain about all things creative.

Having started your own personal blog, you're very honest about your conflicting relationship with inspiration, how important is it for you to keep your personal projects alive and thriving alongside your professional work?

Shooting things that aren’t for anyone else but me is really what keeps me going. It’s how I started in photography; I’d organise all these mini photoshoots with my friends and siblings using our wardrobes and we’d just play in the woods all day. The photos you get back from those types of shoots always mean so much due to the moment behind them. I understand that as a professional photographer, I’m not necessarily going to enjoy every single shoot I am on, so to keep my head fresh and passion alive, I have my own projects I slowly nurture on the side.

How have you found the transition from the 9-5 daily grind to a freelance career, does it provide the freedom it sells?

I really really enjoy it. I cannot even begin to describe how much happier, less stressed and better kept after I find myself. At the moment I like to get my todo lists done all at once so I have some free time, so I’ll spend 15 hours editing, planning and catching up on emails and then chill out the next day, it’s ideal for me. The only thing is you have to make your own hours, so if I didn’t keep up certain things then the jobs won’t necessarily come in. But, then again, you have to also learn when to turn off, otherwise your life becomes one big shift, especially in the busy periods.

You came back from your travelling adventures at the beginning of the year, what 5 quick-easy tips would you give to any aspiring lone travellers? 

- Don’t be afraid to approach others, especially if there is quite a big backpacking community such as Thailand. I had big worries that I wouldn’t be able to easily meet friends in the places I wanted to but just went and sat with a big group of others on my first night in Bangkok and spend the whole time travelling with some of them. Everyone is in the same boat so there is no judgement and everyone welcomes a chat with a stranger with open arms. It was weird coming back to London and experiencing how unfriendly the majority of people were through fresh eyes. Nobody says a word on the tube, where as when I was away we left train journeys with a new set of friends. It’s a lot easier than anyone expects. And the best thing about being a lone traveller is that you can leave whoever whenever the hell you like if they were bugging you. It’s a win win.

- Pack light. I know everyone tells you and you probably won’t listen as you want to take all your favourite tees, but it really is important. I bought SO much when I was in Asia that I was carrying round half a bag with clothes I didn’t even need by the end and had such bad back ache because of it. I would say go out there with 4 outfits and just keep washing them and alternate. At the end of the day you decide to go for comfort over fashion anyway and nobody looks down at you for having a weird pair of trousers on, there’s so much freedom to do and be whatever you like.

- Be wary. The feel good vibes of travelling and meeting all these new lovely people and locals can catch you off guard and you something can easily go wrong. I heard of so many stories while I was out there and I was sure to just keep my guard up constantly. Nothing bad happened to me in the end but if I tried to count on my two hands the amount of times I look back at situations, and know that if I wasn’t totally on my guard something would have been stolen/I could have been hurt, I would run out of fingers. I’m not saying don’t trust anyone as after a certain amount of time with fellow companions you’ll know what to think for yourself, but some of the locals are really clever and sneaky, and if you don’t protest and ask questions against what they are saying or trying to make you do then they literally mug you off so hard. Bring your own padlocks too, mini ones to big ones, they saved my life on a number of occasions especially with lockers in hostels.

-  Learn the basics in the language of the country you are visiting. You are less likely to get mugged off at markets/restaurants and when you show to be making an effort you're way more likely to get a smile and a more friendly experience with whoever you are trying to communicate with. Also, learn all the ways how to say ‘no’ for situations you need to firmly be left alone, such as the big night markets in some countries. Learning the hand gestures helps too.

- TAKE IMMODIUM. That is all.

First and foremost, congratulations on successfully reaching your target for your KickStarter project. It must of been quite a daunting endeavour to jump into, how have you found the ever advancing technological world has helped to nurture and advance your photography?

Thank you! It’s mad, I never thought I’d reach my target. The amount of support I have behind me is inspiring. The internet and photography is a tricky one in this day and age; while it helps promote your work to potential clients and fans, it also enables anybody with an iPhone to become a ‘photographer’ meaning it’s a lot harder to get recognition - people have too much choice! I am lucky to have a lovely fan base on my social media though, and prefer to keep it quite personal.

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self? 

Save as much as you can to go to as many new places as many times as you can. Oh, and if they don’t know you personally, don’t take it personal.

Have you got any projects coming up that we can all look forward to? 

I'm still working on my naked bum photo series (it is just going slowly due to me being so busy) but it’s all very exciting as I think once it’s complete it might be my first ever solo show.

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