An Interview With: Hollie Dearing

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi, I’m Hollie and I’m in my final year studying Photography, Video and Digital Imaging at Sunderland University. I work in a bar, volunteer with a couple of organisations and try to travel a lot.

How did you get into what you do?

I enrolled on a photography course at college and the tutors I had were amazing. I ended up spending most of my free periods in the department and my teachers definitely got sick of me. I started taking hundreds of photographs a week and discovered a whole new world that I fell in love with. I started the course knowing nothing about photography or photographers and by the end of the year I had a back catalogue of artists in my mind.

How do you work?

For personal, more ‘artistic’ projects I have a notebook by my bed which I record ideas as they come to my head, these turn into mind map after mind map and eventually I have an idea I’m with and can pursue. I’ve worked in a range of mediums for these kind of projects, ranging from alternative darkroom techniques to 5 x 4 cameras to high end DSLR’S.

With my documentary work I focus on the people I’m photographing and their story. I spend time in the place getting to know them and what they do. In the past I have worked with a refugee centre and would spend half my time helping out and the other half photographing. I want my work to speak about the positivity in humanity and try to create work that showcases this.

How would you describe your work?

I’m still moving between genres, but documentary work is what I think I want to do as a career. , I try to produce work that I feel can make a difference – or at least highlight those making a difference. I want my work to tell a positive story about humanity and to embody my own interests.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I love to travel and learning about people and the world – so a lot of my inspiration comes from me wanting to know more about a subject and photography is my way of doing that. Jullian Germain is a photographer I always find myself coming back to in my work and his project ‘In the Eyes of the Street’ made me realise how powerful photography can be

Why photography?

Having a camera gives me the confidence and a reason to talk to people as I’ve always been a bit awkward. In college we were given the freedom to choose or own project and I remember walking through Spring Bank and asking all the shop owners and pedestrians if I could photograph them, which in turned blossomed into conversations – I loved the project and finding out little snippets of peoples lives

What are you goals after University?

I’m still a bit unsure about the future, I know I want to use photography to benefit others in some way and I want to experience the world more. I’d like to work with the media side of NGO’s documenting what they do and using photography as a way to start conversations about important topics. I’d also like to go into community arts, working with young or vulnerable people in art centres etc.  

Is there any specific equipment you use?

I use a 50mm lens for most projects as it creates images that have this personal, intimate feel and forces me to be in the midst of what’s going on, not just stood on the side lines. I also swear by light room, without it I my organisation would be dismal.

Whats the best piece of advice you could give the readers of The Pupil Sphere?

Just to do what makes you happy and to follow up on any opportunity you’re given, no matter how small.


All images copyright of Hollie Dearing


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