Due to the pandemic, many photographers have had to change the way in which they work in order to sustain a living. This is a new section of the blog where we want to celebrate the adaptability and resiliance of the photographic community during this past year and highlight some of those that have sucessfully altered their business models, or tried something new, to continue working during what is now the new normal of the photo industry.
This week we highlight Holly Houlton, a freelance photographer and writer based in the UK. Having graduated from Coventry University in the summer of 2020, she experienced the struggle of the recession and turmoil that the job market went through at first. However, she has now recently obtained a new part-time job working as a content creator and photographer for a creative agency. The pandemic has had a direct impact on Holly's photographic work, sparking the idea of her body of work called The Light At Home, which is her response to the pandemic and being restricted to living in her family home and surrounding areas. Holly recently presented this work at GRAIN Photography Hub Photo Café.
However, due to lockdown and a lack of photographic equipment available to her whilst at home, she decided to start selling her work and set up a writing platform, Now Tell Me. Holly explains how she has been keeping busy and making money during the pandemic:
I’ve been making cyanotypes, taking commissions to make personalised prints for customers and forming a small business model from this – advertising and being commissioned through my Instagram. This has been quite successful and I am also now currently working on producing my own curated designs to sell through my Etsy shop and on Instagram. After the pandemic hit, I realised I wanted to start selling my work as I hadn’t really had a chance to before so I decided to set up this online shop.
In terms of my writing practice, over the past several years I’ve written for a variety of established publications and online platforms, both in print and online. However, since graduating and the pandemic, I’ve sought this out to be much more frequent and attaining more paid work where possible. This takes a number of forms such as photo book reviews, artist interviews, opinion pieces, researched articles, writing about my own experiences, social media copy for creative brands including my own professional channels.
I’ve always been incredibly driven, enthusiastic and strong-minded when it comes to my work and career goals. However, due to the creative industries being more competitive than ever, I definitely felt like I had to be even more self-sufficient and active in seeking work. I’ve been to numerous networking events, both for independent small businesses and photography industry talks, which I’ve found really useful and productive.
Alongside this and gaining experience where possible, like completing an unpaid social media internship and volunteering for FORMAT21 Photography Festival, I’ve also had to create work for myself to keep busy and gain new skills. In addition to the photography work I’ve been doing, my time has also been taken up by my new writing platform I launched and founded in 2020 – Now Tell Me.
Now Tell Me is a writing platform dedicated to giving freelance and emerging writers on photography the freedom to write self-directed content. I run the platform completely voluntarily and hope later down the line I will be able to apply for public arts funding to help grow the platform; I am so excited to see how it project progresses and expands. I would like to invite anyone who is interested in having a feature on this to please get in touch with me either via the Now Tell Me Instagram or drop me an email; I would love to hear from you.
Overall, as you can see, I have my fingers in a few pies right now as they say! I really enjoy the variety of work I get to do on a day-to-day basis - attaining revenue through a variety of avenues.
Holly strives to continue running Now Tell Me, writing about photography, and selling her cyanotypes/photographic prints.
Holly’s advice: It’s definitely incredibly important to be very pro-active in seeking new work and opportunities. For example, build up a bookmark folder of job search engine sites, connect with people on LinkedIn and Instagram or other social media you find your relevant communities in. Don’t be afraid to cold call, drop people an email, see if there’s any work available or going on.
Also, if you can afford to, doing the odd unpaid job or voluntary work can also be beneficial during this time for your CV and/or gaining new skills and hopefully contacts, too.
Keep up to date with Holly's work on her website and social media:
And if you are interested in supporting Holly through print sales have a look at her etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HoultonPhotography and get in touch with her if you'd like to be featured on her platform Now Tell Me.