Hollie Fernando is a one-of-a-kind photographer who always wanted to help people embrace their own skin and feel good about themselves. With her inspiring work she is motivating women all over the world to love their own bodies and feel confident and beautiful. She instantly fell in love with the process of taking photos and you can truly feel that by looking at her photographs. Get to know Hollie better in this interview and find out what would she say to her younger self and what are her plans for the future.
Hey Hollie! What is it like to be you these days? What are you working on at the moment?
Hello there Lomo! Happy New Year :) At the moment, I am fine tuning a few potential project ideas that I want to get stuck into this year, as well as wrapping up some other commissioned work from last year that I have yet to release into the wild! So, these days I’m pretty manic, but it’s nothing compared to the warmer months…
You are an award winning portrait photographer and you have had various exhibition in the last couple of years. If you could go back in time when you were just starting out as a photographer, what would you say to a younger version of yourself?
I would say “drop everything and go and buy a medium format camera right now!” and maybe also say to swap the part time job making coffee for something darkroom/film processing related to save yourself money and learn faster. Hindsight though, hey!
Talking about beginnings, what made you fall in love with photography in the first place?
I knew I was interested enough in the subject to move schools to take a course for my A Levels, but I didn’t actually fall in love with it until I processed and printed my first black and white film in the darkroom there. I remember drying off the prints and being absolutely amazed at what I had made and how much I loved the process and from then on spent every spare second I had at school in that darkroom, I even ate my lunches in there!
What was your very first camera? Do you still keep it in your possession?
My Dad gave me his old Pentax kit that he bought in the 70s along with all the (then) alien looking accessories - filters, light meters, tripods etc. It was all so intriguing to work out how to use and once I did I shot my first ever film on that camera (plus hundreds after). I haven’t actually used it for years but it still sits pride of place on my camera shelf! The first camera I bought with my own money and used for years and years after was a Canon AE1. They’re the best camera to learn on in my opinion and very affordable!
Your photography is quite versatile. You’ve done commercial work and have also taken so many beautiful portraits. What do you enjoy shooting the most? Which themes perfectly reflect your work?
The underlying link between all my work is people. I have experimented in all types of photography, which is an important thing to do if you want to find out what speaks true to you. It was during this process that I discovered shooting musicians to be the most fulfilling. I think it’s because I can relate to a musician on a certain creative level; there are a lot of parallels between photography and music. In terms of themes, I have always been in awe of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, so I think subliminally that must find its way in to my work too. I’ve always admired how otherworldly and timeless those paintings are. So, I guess you could say my main themes are butts and bands!
One of your personal projects was about exploring the strength of the women who have been through a lot of tough situations in their lives, such as anxiety and eating disorders. You also had the opportunity to talk to these women and take photos of them. What made the biggest impression on you?
I have worked with some unbelievably strong women who have had had difficulty with their image growing up. It’s so fulfilling and heartwarming to hear that after we’ve shot, they realise how far they have progressed in terms of how they feel about themselves compared to what they used to. Shoots can be a very cathartic process to be part of and being able to help people embrace their own skin even just a little bit more through my work is a great honour.
I think it’s extremely hard to be a young person growing up these days with all the false advertising on what ‘perfect’ should be everywhere you look. Who even gets to decides that? Young kids don’t realise that even the photos on their idol’s Instagram have most likely been retouched before uploading. They’ll see these images every day and when they look at themselves in the mirror and don’t see the same it really affects them on so many levels.
What’s worse, if someone never teaches them the truth or how to self-love, then they’ll have these hang ups for life! It’s very upsetting to think about. So, I’m extremely lucky to be able to create art with a message behind it, hopefully showing the world what real bodies look like with no airbrushing in sight. It’s an ongoing project that is still in its youth, so if anyone reading this wants to add to it with me, please give me an email :)
I trust I speak on behalf of all the women out there when I say that you really make being naked so strong and beautiful at the same time. How do you succeed in making this possible?
Ah wow, that’s lovely to say thank you! I have just been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to capture strong and beautiful women naked. It’s all them, not me! Like I said before, I’m just so grateful to be able to create meaningful art with them and help add to create a more balanced, realistic view of women.
What are you planning on doing next when it comes to work?
I’m going to be carrying on with my nude projects, hopefully finding some boys to shoot along the way, as well as shooting some other planned bits in the music world! I am aiming to make a book alongside a solo exhibition soon which will be fulfilling a long-term dream of mine, so stay tuned!