Holly Wallace

BEFORE BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER, TELL US WHAT YOU WANTED TO BE?

Before I was a full time photographer I worked as a journalist both in print and TV. My favourite job was making documentaries with the BBC. It was what I always wanted to do and I loved it. However, once my darling daughter Sequoia came along, the long hours and travel all became too much and that’s when I started to pick up my stills camera more and more. I soon fell in love with it too as it gave me greater flexibility to be a Mum and still have a creative, fulfilling career.

TELL ME ABOUT THE MOMENT YOU DECIDED TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER?

There wasn’t a definitive moment when I decided to become a photographer. I’ve always loved photography and taken photos. My Mum gave me her old Pentax Spotmatic camera with a broken light metre when I was a teenager. I learned how to use it and then travelled with it through South East Asia. I met lots of other photographers on that trip and started to realise the potential of photography. When I was a writer, I took all my own photos for my articles, and then when I worked in TV, I shot the behind the scenes photos on shoots. I’ve just always had a camera by my side really. About 8 years ago, a close friend asked me to photograph her wedding and I said, “why not.” I think because I had no clue what I was doing, the photos had a fresh and creative feel. Before I knew it, her friends, and and then friends of her friends starting asking me to shoot their weddings. That was the beginning of my career as a wedding photographer. When my daughter turned 2 we moved back to NZ from the UK and there wasn’t enough documentary work to pay the bills, so that’s when I became a full-time wedding photographer.

CAN YOU DEFINE PHOTOGRAPHY?

Photography is painting with light. It’s all about reading the light and then visualising how to use it in your mind to create your ideal shot. I love how spontaneous photography is, especially weddings, where you are constantly reacting to what’s happening – the couple’s energy, the weather, the emotion, the scenery etc. It’s such a thrill when it all comes together. Magic. And being a journalist, I love how you can capture so much story in a single image. Life moves so fast. Blink and it’s gone, but we can make time stand still. That’s a powerful skill.

FOR YOU, WHAT MAKES A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER?

A good photographer has to be good with people, work with what’s going on, and make the best of each moment. You need to know how to use your camera to read the light and make it work for you, and give good direction so people feel comfortable in front of the lens. 

FOR YOU, WHAT MAKES A GOOD PHOTOGRAPH?

A good photograph makes you feel something, and also asks a question so you’re left thinking about it.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?

My biggest challenge today is juggling my kids and work, ha ha. I have a new baby only 6 months old, and a feisty 6 year old. It’s the old work/ life balance challenge. How do I be a good Mum, but also be a good photographer with lots of energy and enthusiasm for my couples and clients! It’s tricky. Also keeping my work fresh and constantly trying to be innovative and creative. And keeping on top of my social media. Not enough hours in the day!

TELL US ABOUT THE DAY YOU FELT MOST PROUD ABOUT YOUR WORK?

I’m proud every time I hear back from a couple who are blown away by my work. I feel like I’ve done the best I could do and given them images to treasure for a lifetime. I know I’ve used my talent to make other people happy, which is a great feeling.

Tell us about the relationship you have with other photographers? How important you feel that is.

I’m lucky living in Queenstown, NZ, as there’s a great community of super talented photographers, and we all get along. We catch up for coffees and talk about our lives and work. There’s a sense that we’ve all got each other’s backs, which is a nice feeling as you work so much alone as a photographer and it can be isolating. I also love learning from photographers I look up to, like Gabe McClintock and Ed Peers, and try and do their workshops when they are in NZ or OZ.

Can you tell us an advice – photography or business tip – that somehow made your career evolve at any point?

A big realisation I had a few years ago was that it really is all about the couples. Don’t worry about winning awards or keeping up with trends or having the best instagram or FB feeds. Just focus on your couples. Connect with them, find out about their lives and their love stories, and the rest will just happen. Also, get creative, take a few risks to keep it interesting, and be grateful for having such an awesome career.