Fashion photography trailblazer Polly Hanrahan has been transforming natural backgrounds into dream-like fashion shoots for clients and brands including The Ragged Priest, Browns Fashion, Sleek Cosmetics, Bricks Magazine, Wonderland Magazine and models and musicians from Emily Bador to Mahalia. The young digital creator says she is still developing her style but seems to have quickly found her feet since graduating from BA (Hons) Fashion Photography in 2014. The Brighton-born photographer is a master of natural light, personality and discovering outdoor Britain. We talk to Polly about freelancing, establishing clients and what made her want to become a photographer.
Hey Polly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and background?
Hello! I’m Polly, born and raised in Brighton. I graduated from LCF in 2014 and now work as a freelance fashion photographer, and occasionally retoucher.
Tell us two interesting facts about Polly Hanrahan?
- I have suffered from Crohn’s disease since I was 13 years old (but I don’t let it slow me down).
- I wanted to be a vet up until I was about 14.
Can you remember the moment you wanted to be a photographer?
Probably whilst in the darkroom studying photography for my A Level and also from watching Britain’s Next Top Model (I’m not kidding).
What made you want to move to London and study at LCF?
LCF was always the plan once I knew I wanted to study fashion photography. I wanted to move to London since I was about 15, and it just made sense. However, I actually commuted to London from Brighton during my degree to save money. And then I moved up after I graduated, when I started interning that summer.
How would you describe your style?
I would say it’s still developing – but I think most of my personal work is natural, soft, textural. I love skin, natural light, natural locations and expression/ personality.
Did you have a muse growing up?
The first person I photographed regularly was one of my best friends Saoirse, who I still photograph occasionally these days.
If you could work with one client or person, who would it be?
That is very tough – it changes on a weekly basis – but right now I’d love to shoot FKA Twigs or Adwoa Aboah.
Film or digital?
Digital. I love film and think it’s beautiful but it’s not practical for me personally – clients often need to see images immediately which is only possible with digital, so I made a choice to invest in digital over film. I also think film can slow you down – I know some might say that’s a good thing, but with digital it’s easier to be spontaneous and fast which I like. I think film is something I might explore more in the future, but for now digital makes sense for my career.
Talk us through your recent commissions with The Ragged Priest and Browns Fashion?
Ragged are one of my favourite clients, I’ve worked with them a few times and they’re always really fun, spontaneous and collaborative shoots. Generally we shoot in Southend which is where they’re based, which is fun for me to get out of London where most of my work tends to be.
I’ve shot for Browns Fashion twice now – this came to me through a friend I met whilst shooting for another company, which I won’t name and I didn’t particularly enjoy, but just shows that work leads to more work if you’re friendly and make an effort to get to know people.
What do you always have in your photography bag?
Spare batteries and spare CF cards!!! I have recurring nightmares about my battery dying on a shoot.
Summer or winter?
Summer! I’m from Brighton! It’s much less fun in the winter.
Has your Brighton background influenced your work?
It must have done – I grew up having the beach at the end of my road and the South Downs in the other direction. Therefore I am very inspired by natural locations and feel quite trapped in London and other cities.
What inspires you?
Women and nature.
Where and what would you like to be doing in five years’ time?
Just to still be making a living from photography, with regular clients and the time/resources to work on more personal projects. But most importantly just healthy and happy. Oh and hopefully living somewhere decent with a couple of dogs.
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