Have you ever wondered what it takes to make the transition from being an emerging photographer to an internationally published one?
This is a topic we’ve explored in-depth through Whim Academy’s online course bundle, but today we wanted to delve into this topic here on the blog to assist as many photographers as possible :)
Part of the online course bundle includes insightful and insanely helpful Case Studies with talented photographers who share their own journey from starting out as a photographer, to approaching publications, working with others, and having their photography published around the globe.
This exclusive case study featuring Whim favourite, Ashley Holloway, is sure to answer many questions you might have as an emerging or beginner photographer looking to take their photography career to new heights.
This Case Study is a glimpse into just one lesson of the 60+ lessons on offer through this course bundle – trust us, it’s packed full of amazing content focusing on how to increase your income as a photographer through fun side-hustles, how to master your social media, and how to become an internationally published photographer within just weeks (rather than months or years). Exciting!
Without further ado though, please enjoy this exclusive Case Study with the wonderful Ashley Holloway!
Q: How long have you been a photographer for?
A: I’ve been doing photography for much of my life in one way or the other, but I started shooting fashion photographs in October 2011 which was soon after I graduated college. In college, I had started shooting with friends and family for photographs and it was one of the first times I had experimented with taking pictures of people to create stories. After college, I started looking for models in the area to work with, because I thought it might be cool to photograph somebody I didn’t know.
Q: What was the first publication (online or print) that you had your photography featured in?
A: I’ll never forget my first publication! I shot a Secret Garden themed fashion editorial with Laura Kirkpatrick, who had appeared on America’s Next Top Model. It was published in Coco magazine (now Coco Indie) in February 2013.
Q: At what stage in your career were you when you received this first feature?
A: I had been shooting “fashion” for about a year at that point, but before then I didn’t understand the process of submitting fashion stories to publications. That first publication really gave me a lot of confidence to keep trying new things and work with teams of creatives, but even after that, it took me awhile to really get the hang of shooting editorials and it also took me awhile to find online magazines that I fit into.
Q: Can you describe how you felt when you found out that you were having your photography featured / published for the first time?
A: Everything about the shoot was a big deal for me, and so I was thrilled when it was published in Coco Magazine. Coco was the “it” online magazine then, and all of the fashion photographers whom I deeply admired were being featured at the time like Emily Soto and Daniela Majic. It felt like if I could be featured by them then I must be talented too.
Q: What steps were you taking in the beginning to ensure that you received as much exposure as possible?
A: In the beginning, I didn’t really know what I was doing. There weren’t nearly as many resources out there, and if there were, I didn’t know where to look. I was trying my best to post on my Facebook page and DeviantArt constantly to get my work out there. I had started out with a Model Mayhem account to look for people to work with, and that ended up being a huge help because I somehow ended up working with people that were a LOT more experienced than I was. It was really intimidating, but they must have seen something special in my work, and I was incredibly enthusiastic to keep creating the amazing happiness that photography was giving me.
I was also in touch with a local model agency, through a model I had previously worked with, who would send me newer models that needed photos for their portfolios. I felt like if I was working with agency models, I also needed to find makeup artists to work with, however for clothes most of the time I was just thrifting interesting pieces and putting them together myself.
I kept reaching out to people as much as possible, and as a fairly shy person, it took me a lot of courage to do that. I was scared people would say no to me, and a lot of them did, they’re still saying no to me but I don’t care as much anymore.
Once I started, I just kept creating constantly. Having a positive attitude and an openness to trying new things is quite honestly a very attractive thing to be working with. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar, as they say!
Q: What other publications / platforms have you had your photography featured or showcased in? If there are too many for you to mention, feel free to narrow it down to your favourites!
A: I’ve been featured in a lot of places, but because I’ve been doing it for such a long time now, some of the magazines have closed by now. Coco Indie, Whim, Atlas, Ellements, Lucy’s, The Spoiler’s Hand, and Jute have been some of my favorite online publications. The most surreal experiences are the ones where you can buy the magazine right off the newsstand though! My first paper publication was with a UK magazine called FaceOn for makeup artists, they sent me a copy in the mail and I was floored. It’s a weird feeling to see something like that and know that anybody who buys the magazine would see it.
Q: What do you believe are the most important steps emerging photographers can take in order to become an ‘internationally published photographer’?
A: The most important thing to do is to study the magazines you’re hoping to be accepted to. Learn their rules, look at what they’re publishing, and try to offer them something a little bit different than what they already have. I’ve talked to a lot of magazine editors who become frustrated when the work that’s being submitted to them has no connection with their publication; a soft and dreamy publication isn’t going to want sexy, swimsuit photos and vice versa. You need to understand the magazine’s style they’re trying to create.
Sometimes you have to accept that what you have to give is just not going to work with their style as well. While it might be cool to have your work featured somewhere, you also don’t want to sacrifice your style completely just to make it happen. You must find your audience; find the publications that enjoy your work. It takes time, and can be incredibly frustrating.
Also, on a side-note, your work is usually only as good as the people you work with. If you’ve never worked with somebody before and want them to work on your next big editorial, then it might be a good idea to have a “test” shoot with them beforehand. If you don’t have the time to do so, then you really need to look at their portfolios (and their attitudes) with a discerning eye and decide if they’re the right fit for the team.
Also, always be polite to everybody you work with, including the publications you are emailing. Read their guidelines and adhere to them. Don’t send a novel-long email to them, but also don’t send them an email that only says “Yo, check out these pics.” You want them to know you respect them, so that they also respect you.
Q: Lastly, what advice would you give to your fellow photographers when it comes to dealing with submission rejections?
A: I could write a mile-long list of the submission rejections I have received (or rather the acceptance emails I have not received, as many publications don’t send out rejection emails anymore).
Don’t be afraid to submit your work to magazines, if they are asking for submissions, then you have just as much right as anybody to submit your work. If they don’t get back to you or they send you a rejection letter, then that’s ok. It doesn’t mean your work sucks, it just means it wasn’t a good fit or you aren’t quite on their skill level yet.
It’s also ok to be upset with yourself when you have shot an editorial specifically with their publication in mind and it’s still rejected. I’ve done that quite a few times, but you just have to pick yourself up and try, try again. Use rejections as fuel to learn, study, and grow more!
View more of Ashley’s gorgeous photography by visiting her website, Facebook page, and Instagram.
Remember how we said that this was a glimpse into just one lesson from over 60+ lessons available for photographers through Whim Academy’s online course bundle? Well Whim Academy’s doors have just opened again – but for a very limited time!
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