Thursday, September 22, 2011

Holli True Photography

Holli True Photography:  Modern Photographer for the Stylish Girl

Questions for you....You fabulous photographer, you!

Name:  Holli True
Business Name:  Holli True Photography
Location: Eugene, Oregon

Tell us a little about YOU, and your  journey to becoming a photographer?
  I am a High School Senior Portrait Photographer based out of Eugene, Oregon.  I decided about three years ago to specialize my business in the senior market and took it a step further and put all of my focus into senior girls specifically- and I couldn't be happier!  Growing up, I have always been drawn to the arts- sketching people with charcoals to be exact, so I came to understand shadow and light from a very early age.  I would spend hours studying pictures of models and actresses, dissecting the way their bodies were posed and how the lighting hit their body, showing the angles and curves- trying to mimic this in my drawings.  Photography wasn't really anything I considered pursuing when I was younger, though I had always been fascinated by it.  Fast-forward to today and I cannot imagine my life without it.  I still sketch from time to time, I don't ever want to lose that side of myself, but photography has become my passion.
When did you first become interested in photography and why?

  I was actually supposed to have a career as a hair stylist, ironically I utilize my color wheel knowledge when editing... funny, right?  About a week or so after graduating from Beauty School, I went to the doctor for an ultrasound, as I was five months pregnant.  That day we found out that I was carrying a baby girl, Jenna, we also found out that she was very sick.  It was a week later that we lost her and my world was turned upside down.  The things that had mattered to me, no longer did.  The life that I had planned for myself and my husband, none of it appealed to me or made sense anymore.  I checked out for awhile, trying to heal and accept our loss.  One afternoon my sister-in-law admitted to me that she felt guilty bringing my niece and nephew around, fearing it would be too painful for me to be around them.  I assured her I needed the exact opposite and knew I needed to surround myself by children, not guard myself from them.  I applied at a local children's portrait studio the next week.  It was exactly what I needed- the moment I held the camera in my hands, it just felt right.  Photography helped me heal when I was in a very dark place, it gave me back a piece of myself I feared I had lost forever.

How has your photography evolved since you started?
  When I started I worked with studio lighting and backdrops, I also shot film.  When I decided to make a go at starting my own photography company, I first had to teach myself digital, natural light photography and shooting in the real world, outside of the studio walls.  I practiced on my two children until they couldn't stand the sight of camera any longer.  I started out photographing everything.  Everything seemed to fall together perfectly when I took the leap and decided to brand my business fully and specialize in one field of photography.

What challenges or struggles did you face early on in your career?  Currently?
  I lacked confidence in my abilities early on.  I was intimidated by the successful photographers in my area, never feeling up to par.  I actually had a bad experience when I met a photographer I looked up to from my own town, which really rattled me.  I questioned whether or not I belonged in the industry and considered throwing in the towel.  I am so grateful to David Jay, who I had the opportunity to meet the following day.  I thank God for that fateful day because meeting him changed everything for me.  His passion and his heart awakened something inside of me, meeting him not only changed my perspective, it changed my life.  Who knows what would have happened, if not for him.
  My current challenges are trying to meet all of the demands that I am now faced with.  I have been toying with the idea of bringing on an assistant or intern to help alleviate some of the workload, but I am a bit of a control freak, so I am dragging my feet.  Haha!

Describe you style?
  Modern.  Stylish.  Fashion.  Authentic.  Unique.  

Do you have any rituals or mantras that you use to prepare for a shoot?
  Well, the only ritual I really have before a shoot is getting really nervous about it.  My husband always laughs at me because of this.  I can't explain it, I just get super anxious and scared that I am going to let my client's down- but I don't want them to see this in me, so I force a smile and push that fear down deep inside.  The moment the shoot starts, my fears go away and I fall into a groove.  This happens every single time.  I know, it's odd.  Haha!

What inspires YOU? What turns you off Creatively?
  Let me tell you, I am a girl who is all about inspiration!  My muse is Kristen Stewart- seriously can't get enough of that girl!  I love her awkwardness, I think it's so refreshing!  She's real and she makes no apologies for it- I love that!  Music is another huge inspiration for me- I always say that music is my poetry.  I write, edit and live my life with music.  My personal daily playlist includes John Mayer, Angus & Julia Stone, Peter Bjorn, Betty and the Boy, Mat Kearney and Paramore.  Other inspirations include magazines like Rolling Stone, Seventeen, W, Harper's Bazaar & Vanity Fair.
 I can't think of anything that turns me off creatively...

What tips or suggestions do you offer to your subject to get them to relax during a shoot? 

  I think it is so important to prepare your clients for a successful shoot by making suggestions on what to bring and having an honest discussion with them about who they are the vision they have for their shoot.  During the shoot, I spend time talking to my clients, making them laugh and just getting to know them better.  I demonstrate how I want them to pose, which I believe really helps them understand what I am looking for and how I want them to move.  I also show them previews right off the back of my camera, this lets them see how amazing they look and increases their trust and confidence in me.   

Who inspires you artistically?
  Kristen Stewart, of course.  My amazing clients.  My fabulous hubby, who is also a photographer- his unique eye pushes me to look at my clients from different angles and to try new things.
What do you prefer to shoot with, zoom or prime lenses and why?
  Prime.  I am all about clarity and crisp, clean lines.  Prime lenses just make me happy.
While editing, what, for you, determines a photo to be black and white vs. color?
  I actually know what images I want to convert to black & white when I am shooting, the location, lighting & pose are how I decide.

How do you pull yourself out of a creativity rut?
  A good book or movie can pull me out of a creativity rut.  Taking a day or two away from photography to clear my mind and wipe the slate clean usually does the trick.  I will also resort to a concept shoot sometimes when I feel like I need a creativity boost- nothing fuels creativity more than doing a shoot just for you.

What does a typical work day look like for you?  Where do you edit and what is the “set up” of your work space?

  I have my office setup at home with a workspace dedicated to photography.  I am surrounded by images of my amazing clients, as well as inspiration boards to keep the creative energy flowing around me.  I have recently decided to write out a schedule for myself to help me make better use of my time and be more efficient.  I want to work while my kids are in school and take time to be with them when they get home in the afternoon.  A typical workday includes blogging, editing and answering emails- pretty simple. 
What are your favorite subjects to photograph? and why?
  High School Senior Girls.  Sessions with my girls are so much fun- we honestly have such a great time!  I love their excitement and their unique style.  Typically they are a little unsure of themselves, not knowing how to pose or anything- as I pose and encourage them, they transform before my very eyes.  Their confidence boosts and they own it- I love that!!  I feel so fortunate to work with my amazing girls, I have the best job in the world!

What advice would you give an aspiring photographer?
  Find your niche and run with it.  Be your brand.  Reach out to photographers who inspire you.  Allow yourself the freedom to fail and succeed.  Set goals and boundaries for your business.  Welcome change.  Do what makes you happy.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
  I had the honor of filming an instructional video for Lensbaby recently, which was surreal!  I got to work with an amazing girl named Elizabeth in a killer warehouse, talking through how I do what I do, what I use, when I use it, and why.  It was a little daunting having a production crew documenting my every move, but it was such an awesome experience and a lot of fun- I loved it!

Did you ever have anything go wrong or unexpected during a shoot and if so, how did you handle it?
 So far- knock on wood- this hasn't happened yet.  Eek!

What are your photography "goods"?
  My hubby and I each shoot with Canon 5D Mark II's.  Our lenses are also Canon, they include 70-200mm 2.8L IS, 100mm 2.8 Macro, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 28mm 1.8.  We also have a Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Double Glass and Sweet 35 Optics.
Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so, what do you have your eyes on?
  Our next purchase is going to be the 50mm 1.2- I am dying to get my hands on one!  

Where do you hope to be in 10 years in your business?
  I hope to still be working with senior girls.  I am in the process of getting into more styled shoots, we have some really awesome concepts that I would love see come to life.  One of my more lofty goals is to be a photographer for Seventeen Magazine... in 10 years... we'll just have to wait and see.  :)  Wherever this crazy/amazing/exciting road leads me, that's where I'll go.  


Favorite room in your house?
My bedroom.

Favorite quote?
“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” ~ Judy Garland

Hidden talent?
I don't know that is so much hidden, but I am an aspiring writer.  I dream of being a Young Adult author.

Favorite website or blog (photography or non photography related)?  
I am totally addicted to Pinterest right now.  I love to read Lisa and Laura Write- those girls are absolutely hilarious- love them!  I also spend a lot of time on Deisgn Aglow.  

Which five words would your friends use to describe you?
Loyal.  Creative.  Funny.  Witty.  Passionate.

Your greatest fear?
Spiders.  Ugh.  So gross.

Something that is overrated?  
E-Books.  I'm sorry, but there is nothing more romantic than turning the pages of a real book with paper pages.

Something that you're still learning?  
Everything.  I always want to be learning, growing, changing, evolving.

What ambition have you not yet achieved?  
Being a published author.  But it will happen.  I am determined to make this dream a reality!

What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?  
My hubby.  He is my best photography accessory.  I love that he and I share a passion for photography.

You've learned the most from.....?  
Allowing myself to fail.  Pursuing my dreams.  Not allowing fear to stand in my way. Setting goals and always pushing myself to go beyond what I think I am capable of.

And lastly.....if you had one wish?
I could get all deep here, but I am going to keep it simple and light.  :)  One wish- which is actually three- I would love to meet John Mayer, Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart.  Not necessarily in that order.  To take it a step further- I would LOVE to photograph each of them/all of them.  Talk about awesome!!  And yes, for the record, I am a Twilight junkie.  I can't get enough of it- and I'm proud.  And John Mayer is my boyfriend.  {Yes, my hubby has accepted this fact.}  ;)

Thank you, Holli for your honesty and transparency.  You are such an inspiration and I will be looking for your work in the coming issues of Seventeen, as I have no doubt your work will be there someday!  I LOVE your advice you give aspiring photographers, and the fact that your hubby is your favorite "non camera related" accessory says it ALL!  You are a shining example of what today's photographer represents and we are so honored that you shared a little of you with us!  
Tonya Poitevint

Posted with LOVE by Tonya


  1. Amazing, gorgeous, and inspiring!! I love that you focus on seniors! I'm trying to figure out my main focus and it's not easy! Fantastic interview, Tonya!

  2. Holli, these pictures of you are amazing! You are gorgeous inside and out! The only thing better than know you as a photographer is getting to call you my friend. You are inspiring!

  3. Just found this blog and love it! I'll def. be back around! :D

  4. Holli... I will forever be grateful for what you have done in my life and business... You are a wonderful, and I am so lucky to know you!