Free Writing. Reassessment. Happiness.
Holly Whittaker has recently come from the long trip in Asia sharing some best locations with WÜL’s readers to visit. Holly is a London-based fashion photographer who has worked for 6up productions, Marguerite London, Hearst UK, Refinery29 UK, Huffington Post and more.
Holly captures portraits that are sensual and breathtaking as the models’ eyes glance far away entangled in thinking about something the viewer can only imagine. Read more on what it is like to be a freelancer and the importance of stopping and reevaluating life.
Hi Holly, great to have you on WÜL! How is it going?
Thanks for having me. I recently got back from 5 months travelling in Asia, so I’m feeling pretty energised at the moment.
You’ve recently been to South Korea. Name 3 most fascinating things about this country.
I want to go back, it’s such an incredible place. What was most surprising about travelling there was the landscape. Seoraksan National Park was magical — there are stunning hikes in the mountains with trails that pass by beautiful Buddhist temples. Busan Cultural Village was also really fascinating, oh and the matching couples trend. I was travelling with my boyfriend, so we found that pretty entertaining.
Could you describe your regular day?
Like most freelancers I don’t have a regular day exactly — it’s a mix of working really intensely on a job and then days when it’s more relaxed, so I’ll have time for meetings and planning things. I enjoy the variety.
What was the first camera you used for a professional photo shoot?
A Canon 70D.
The models in your works have this intense, meaningful gaze. What is it you strive to convey through the photograph?
“I strive for a connection with the person I’m shooting with. I hope to convey an essence of that person or moment, a feeling or emotion of some kind — perhaps a sense of vulnerability or empowerment, or something else - it’s up to the reader of the photograph to interpret, really”.
Your personal, small obsession that you can share with us?
“I’ve started free writing every day. In a way it’s a form of meditation — the blank pages are a space to mull over ideas and problems, and help me clear my mind. I sleep and work a lot better for it”.
Tell us about your value. What do you strongly believe in?
I believe in taking breaks, turning off notifications and assessing life often. If I’m unhappy I make a change - it could be big or small.
What is the most inspiring movie you have watched? Why?
Tough! I’m inspired by so many films. I love A Separation by Asghar Farhadi for the use of sound, light, and colour, plus incredible character development; Wild Tales by Damián Szifron for amazing storytelling and dark comedy; also Věra Chytilová’s Daisies and Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon for surrealism.
What is it that you like about fashion photography sphere?
It can be very creative and playful, forward-thinking and inspiring. I like that the lines between fashion, art and documentary photography are often blurred.
How do you like your coffee? When do you drink it?
Only on holiday. Vietnamese coconut iced coffee is the best. 99% of the time I drink tea.
In your opinion, what is the major mistake young photographers make?
Maybe not being willing to make mistakes could be a mistake in itself? Perhaps they play it safe or copy people they admire, rather than being brave creatively. Some mistakes can be very very painful, but you do learn and grow into a better photographer.
The last album you have listened to?
KOD by J.Cole. That was a while ago, I don’t really sit down and listen to albums the whole way through like I used to.
Film or digital?
Film, but I use both.
Ha, I can’t think that far ahead yet! I need to finish editing the last 5 months of photographs, then update my website and portfolio, which is very long overdue. I have lots of ideas that need refining and planning, but those three things need to come first. I should probably post on Instagram again too…