Holly McGlynn is an Irish fashion photographer living in London. She has an MA in photography from Goldsmith’s and was shortlisted for Irish Fashion Photographer of the Year 2014 and 2015, also winning a gold medal in the Prix de la Photographie Paris 2015.
How did you get your start in photography?
I moved to London nearly 9 years ago to study photography at Goldsmith’s. After graduating I tried lots of different genres: events, portraiture, photojournalism, even a wedding or two, before coming to fine art photography for a period. I then moved into fashion photography about 5 years ago.
What type of photography are you shooting and what motivated you to focus on that genre?
I’m a fashion photographer so I shoot main fashion editorials for magazines and campaigns for brands. Before I moved into fashion, I found practicing fine art photography lonely and frustrating. I realized I liked working in teams, working to deadlines, producing a lot of content, and being in a more fast paced, dynamic environment. I’ve always loved fashion so it was absolutely the right move for me.
Did you experience any challenges as a woman entering into the photography market?
That’s hard for me to assess because I’m self-employed. I operate, at least in a photography capacity, alone. I don’t have any direct comparison for whether I’ve encountered more difficulties than a man doing the same job as me. Something I’m constantly aware of is the gender pay gap and that this gap, already at 18.1% in the employment market, is even more disparate in the freelance market. But nobody talks about their rates so it’s very difficult to get a sense of where you stand. I was recently sent a document, in error, by a client. The document laid out their shortlist of photographers for a campaign they were commissioning. I was the only woman on the list, the most expensive photographer on the list, and the photographer they ended up booking. So that was a good moment for me!
What has been your biggest achievement or obstacle along the way?
The biggest obstacle is probably that fashion photography is a hugely competitive field with a lot of rejection. I’ve won awards and shot campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world but I think my biggest achievement is that I’m absolutely relentless and despite the rejection and competition, I’ve never given up.
Who and/or what inspires you most?
I love to see what other fashion photographers are shooting and what sort of work magazines are commissioning. My favorite photographers include Ellen von Unwerth, Juergen Teller, and Miles Aldrige. I take inspiration from them for different things: colour, style, attitude or ideas.
What is your approach? Is there anything in particular you try to achieve during a shoot (for example triggering certain feelings, etc.) or are there any specific techniques you use?
I always say that your most important job as a photographer, before you take a single frame, is to ensure everyone else on set feels included, valued and empowered to do their job. If you don’t do that then you’ve failed as a photographer. So I’ll always ensure the whole team have seen the mood board and understand what we’re trying to achieve that day. If everyone is on the same page and relaxed then you will always get better results. I also think you get the best work if you’re prepared to take risks – I’ll do almost anything to get the shot.
Why is accurate color important within your workflow?
My work is defined by colour, it’s got to be bold and punchy to be on brand. Anything else just isn’t right for me.
Any tips or advice for photographers just beginning their career?
Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, network like there’s no tomorrow, keep shooting personal work as much as possible to develop your own style, never give up, and be nice. You could be the best photographer in the world but if you treat the people around you without respect, you’ll never be hired.