Award winning photographer Lisa Holloway is in a class of her own when it comes to fine art portraits. Her portraits are made with meticulous care for color, light and details. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview. You will find more photos in the end of the article.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
My name is Lisa and I live with my husband and 10 amazing kids in Northwestern Arizona. I’ve been in love with photography my entire life but did not get serious about it until my 5th child was born in 2006. I opened my portrait photography business in 2008. I am very part time now as my main focus in life is my family at this time. Other interests of mine include traveling, road trips, hiking, cooking, raising chickens on our little mini-farm, and spending time outdoors.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I think my experiences as a mother have shaped how I interact with and photograph children (my favorite subjects). I adore children and bringing out their true spirit in my photographs is something I strive for with every session. I really want to share a piece of their soul in my images.
What first attracted you to photography ?
I've always been an artistic person. When I was younger, I would spend countless hours drawing and painting. Photography is a natural extension of that love for the arts for me - it was something I was inherently drawn to. I love being able to freeze a moment in time and catch a glimpse of a person's soul.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
I always strive to bring out the true personality and very best in every person that steps in front of my camera. I love portraits that are whimsical, and a little bit mysterious. I use elements in nature like beautiful light, colors, and texture to enhance my images.
Why are you so drawn to portrait photography?
I love working with children and capturing beautiful images for their families. It is an art form and a true love for me. It’s never felt like work, or a job.
What is more important to you, the story behind an image or the technical perfection ?
The story behind the image is the most important, but I do always strive for a technically solid photo as well.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?Sometimes I’m the Mom – my favorite subjects are often my own children. My oldest daughter (who also happens to be featured in many of my published 1X images) has been my muse since I began my photography journey. When photographing someone unrelated to me, I am more of a quiet observer and encourager. I always do whatever is necessary to ensure my subject is comfortable with me, and never, ever rush a shoot. Patience and a calm, relaxed demeanor is key to getting your subjects to be genuine and open up to you. I prefer to work with a longer focal length so that I am more of an ‘away in the distance observer’ than a ‘right up in your face’ photographer. I find that I get the expressions I am after when I allow my subjects some personal space. I will gently direct the shoot, but oftentimes, the best images are totally unplanned.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in portrait photography and how do you get started?
My best advice to beginners is to stay true to your own vision. Do not be afraid to be yourself, and explore new ideas and concepts. There is only one you and THAT is what will make your work special and unique! Additionally, learn to say no. I am a people pleaser so this was hard for me, but for your own sanity, you have got to learn to do this early and often. Only take on jobs that suit you and that you enjoy. Do not be badgered into lowering your prices or giving special deals. If you do not value your own time and talent, how do you expect that anyone else will?
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
This is a really hard question – there are so many amazing photographers out there! To name a few, Sally Mann, Elena Shumilova, Magdalena Berny, Jessica Drossin, Steve McCurry...I could go on and on. There is an endless pool of amazing talent out there. I am very inspired by these (and other) photographers but try to take bits and pieces of what I love about their work, and file it away in the vast drawer of inspiration that I draw from when I’m shooting. I never try to create exact copies of anyone’s work, but rather take the elements that I love and put my own spin on it.
Is there is any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a big deal and why?
If forced to choose just one image, I will go with Steve McCurry’s Afghan girl. This portrait is striking, her eyes and her gaze immediately grab a hold of you and pull you in. There is such a story behind those eyes. I find this image both fascinating and mysterious – it has an almost surreal quality to it. This image, to me, is the epitome of an amazing portrait. It gives you just enough information about who this girl is, but leaves a lot to the imagination. I love it.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I would love to finish the natural light e-book I’ve been working on for the past couple of years! I’d also love to delve into some other genres of photography. I’ve been in a bit of a rut since the New Year started so I’m hoping that this will spur some new experimentation and growth for me.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you ?
I can’t pick just one – I am going to cheat and add 2.
The first one is a client image that I took during a family photo session 4 years ago. This image is special to me because it is everything I would hope to achieve with a portrait – it is honest, connected, intriguing, and mysterious – it tells a story and keeps you looking and thinking.
The second image is one of my own 3 year old son and one of our hens (he was 2 at the time this photo was taken). I obviously have a personal connection with this photo as this is one of my own babies. Similar to the client image that I love, this image is also a genuine, gripping, and somewhat mysterious portrait that can weave a story in the viewer’s imagination. Who is this boy? Where did he get the chicken? Is this dinner or his favorite pet? What is he thinking? The warm colors and beautiful lighting also draw me to this picture. I knew the second I saw this one on my LCD screen that it was something special – I couldn’t wait to get home and see it on my computer screen.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work ?
I love that 1X is a high quality, curated gallery. Only the best images are featured and given recognition. It really pushes me to only submit my best work, and always strive to improve. There is so much inspiration to be found here and so many amazing artists!