Brooke Holm Interview | Yellowtrace

 

There are four things you need to know about Brooke Holm.

1) She is a mega babe.
2) She is crazy style talented.
3) She is no-nonsense, super hard working, incredibly versatile, and well on her way to world domination.
4) She now lives in New York, but will shortly be back in Australia for a solo exhibition of her stunning new body of work.

Ok, so there’s a lot more to this little lady then what I reduced her to in this intro. That’s for sure. Which is why I can’t wait for you all to get to know her a little better though this candid interview.

Brooke is one fair dinkum decent sheila who’s work has graced the pages of Yellowtrace many a time. The way this young woman has accidentally discovered and subsequently pursued her photography career is nothing short of inspiring.

I think that we can all sometimes be guilty of not recognising the hard work and the sacrifice behind someone else’s success. Take Brooke, for example. After just a few years of full-time freelance life, she moved to New York where she quickly established herself as an in-demand photographer. She now gets to fly all around the world to shoot for clients and generate personal projects. Like, so awesome, right? How lucky is she? And she is. But what does it take to be able to get to this point as a freelance creative professional? Well… Read on and you will start to get an idea very quickly. This woman is unstoppable and I can’t wait for her to fulfil her dream of flying to the Moon with NASA. I have no doubt it’s only a matter of time.

 

Brooke returns to Melbourne with her stunning new series ‘Mineral Matter, which opens on Thursday 21st September. The show will run until 5th October at Modern Times in Fitzroy, Melbourne. See more information here.

 

See more of Brooke Holm on Yellowtrace.

 

Mineral Matter Exhibition at Modern Times by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Brooke’s latest series ‘Mineral Matter’.

Mineral Matter Exhibition at Modern Times by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Mineral Matter’.

Mineral Matter Exhibition at Modern Times by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Mineral Matter’.

Mineral Matter Exhibition at Modern Times by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Mineral Matter’.

Mineral Matter Exhibition at Modern Times by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Mineral Matter’.

Interview with Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Brooke standing on the edge of Preikestolen Cliff in Norway. Ah-mazing! Photo by Nick Godsell.

 

+ Hello Brooke, welcome to Yellowtrace and thank you for taking the time to e-chat. Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourself? When did you first decide you wanted to become a photographer and what path led you to where you are today?

Thank you so much for having me! I became a photographer quite by accident. I was led to it when a camera was thrust into my hands at my first real job out of uni, at an advertising agency in Brisbane. I had studied TV production and advertising, which I picked from a list at age 17 when I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. It was a fairly vague and broad degree, which left me with no real skills. However, it got me in the door as a base line assistant. At the agency, I was their jack of all trades… getting coffee, fetching milk, taking out the trash etc. One day they asked me to go take photos of a billboard they produced – mostly because they had no one else and I was an eager yes-woman. When I came back with the images, they were impressed, so I did it again, and again until I was promoted into the production department and gradually became their in-house photographer. While this was happening, I felt more inspired and optimistic about the future than I ever had. I had this wonderful feeling that I could actually BE a photographer, so I decided to study photography part time while I was working and I practiced all the time on the side. I used to make my sisters dress up in weird clothes so I could practice my ‘fashion’ shots and I would shoot landscapes on my travels. By the end of my course, I was so ready to get out in the world. I quit my job, moved to Melbourne and landed a full time photography job at a stationery company. From there I started gathering clients on a freelance basis and quickly got to the point of quitting to go entirely freelance. 8 years later, I’m now living and working in New York and traveling the world to shoot client and personal work.

 

Interview with Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
The beautiful Brooke Holm.

Interview with Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
The Art Institute of Chicago.

Farrah Sit Lighting photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Ida & Pingala pendants from Farrah Sit Lighting.

Farrah Sit Lighting photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Ida & Pingala pendants from Farrah Sit Lighting.

 

+ What are you seeking to portray in your work? Is there something that is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

I suppose you could say I’m very precise and intentional. From the moment I picked up a camera, I started developing a very strict and attentive eye to certain details and aesthetics of the images I was making. Asking myself questions like, are the lines straight? Are the colours perfect? Does it make me feel anything? Am I proud of this? Could I do better? What is that smudge?… In my personal work, the questions I’m asking in addition to the above are more profound because the ideas I explore are more meaningful. For the most part, this work is directly related to my feelings for nature and the significance it plays in our lives as humans. Producing art is a far more personal experience than taking an image for a client. Client work fundamentally exists to promote a product or idea that is not my own. In my own work it’s about delving deep into my creative expression and how I experience the world.

 

Matter Store photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Olivia Sammons | Yellowtrace
Still life shoot for Matter Store campaign. Styling by Olivia Sammons.

Matter Store photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Olivia Sammons | Yellowtrace
Still life shoot for Matter Store campaign. Styling by Olivia Sammons.

Matter Store photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Olivia Sammons | Yellowtrace
Still life shoot for Matter Store campaign. Styling by Olivia Sammons.

 

+ Who or what are some of your influences? What other photographers, creative, peers and creatives in general do you admire?

My inspiration comes from many places in many forms… Photography, design, architecture, nature, science, technology, literature, film etc. My biggest influence and source of admiration is nature and its intricate complexities and beauty. It never ceases to amaze me and most of my personal work is centred around it. My appreciation for design and architecture may help explain the fixation on lines and shapes throughout my work. There are so many creatives that inspire me and way too many to list here but some of my favourite photographers would have to be (in no particular order) Olaf Otto Becker, Naoki Ishikawa, Benedict Redgrove, Vivian Maier, Edward Burtynsky, Andrea Galvani, Annie Liebovitz, Sally Mann, Irving Penn, Noémi Goudal, Liat Elbling, Tim Walker, Kevin Cooley, Matthias Schaller, Richard Mosse, Andreas Gursky, Bence Bakonyi. I was also inspired early on by all the Magnum photojournalists and street photographers.

 

Elsternwick photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Marsha Golemac | Yellowtrace
Elsternwick Residence by Flack Studio. Styling by Marsha Golemac.

Bendigo by FLACK Studio photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Marsha Golemac | Yellowtrace
Bendigo Residence by Flack Studio. Styling by Marsha Golemac.

Bendigo by FLACK Studio photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Marsha Golemac | Yellowtrace
Bendigo Residence by Flack Studio. Styling by Marsha Golemac.

Bendigo by FLACK Studio photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Marsha Golemac | Yellowtrace
Bendigo Residence by Flack Studio. Styling by Marsha Golemac.

 

+ As a solopreneur, how do you organise and manage the competing demands of modern business and life? Do you have any tip or tricks you could share with us that help you in your day to day (i.e. software, online tools, shortcuts, cheat sheets, buddy groups, anything!)

This is one of the hardest parts of being solo. I am the first to admit that I’m actually not the most organized person. I am more chaotic, free and independent. I love not knowing where I will be in a year. However, if I didn’t put every single thing in my calendar I would forget what I need to do or what I have going on. I have also been prone to saying yes to everything to the point where I sometimes can’t keep up. I’m learning to try and rely on people to help me, as opposed to doing everything myself. I definitely use tools and software; without which I couldn’t do my job. Capture One is my go-to raw processor and Photoshop for finessing. As for work/life balance, I’m fortunate because the parts of life that I want to experience personally are directly related to what I do for a living. I want to travel everywhere and take photographs and explore ideas through my photographs. I don’t exactly separate work and play because when I’m playing I still have a camera in my hand.

 

Noma Restaruant Tulum photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Noma Restaurant in Tulum, Mexico.

Noma Restaruant Tulum photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Noma Restaurant in Tulum, Mexico.

Arctic photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Arctic’ series.

Arctic by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Arctic’ series.

Arctic by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Arctic’ series.

Interview with Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Brooke doing her thing. Photo by Astrid Stevie Winberg.

 

+ What do you feel is the most challenging part of being a photographer today? If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

One challenging aspect is potentially the overload of imagery and the subsequent desensitization that comes with that. To be a photographer is accessible and anyone can do it. Therefore, there is a lot of competition and noise which means that it can be harder to make a difference. Sometimes it’s challenging to convince clients to take certain risks to make that difference happen. But on the other hand, this is where personal work really gets to thrive because there is no convincing necessary, and I don’t have to care what other people think of it. I strongly believe that you have to keep evolving so that you can stay relevant, get work and simultaneously satisfy your creative hunger. Being willing to adapt to technological changes is also so important because it can and will overtake you if you don’t grow with it. Nothing good ever came from the phrase ‘That’s just how it’s always been done’. I wish no one would utter those words, ever. That kind of thinking is the destroyer of creativity.

 

Studio Giancarlo Valle Designs Linda Farrow's First US Store in SoHo, New York City | Yellowtrace
Linda Farrow’s Store in SoHo, New York City designed by Giancarlo Valle.

Studio Giancarlo Valle Designs Linda Farrow's First US Store in SoHo, New York City | Yellowtrace
Linda Farrow’s Store in SoHo, New York City designed by Giancarlo Valle.

Studio Giancarlo Valle Designs Linda Farrow's First US Store in SoHo, New York City | Yellowtrace
Linda Farrow’s Store in SoHo, New York City designed by Giancarlo Valle.

Objects of Common Interest photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Still life shoot for Objects of Common Interest.

Objects of Common Interest photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Still life shoot for Objects of Common Interest.

 

+ Any interesting/ funny/ quirky facts you could share with us about your work and what you do?

It’s so fitting that photography and I found each other. All I ever wanted was adventure and freedom, which is not only possible, but inevitable in my job. I’ve been an adventure seeker all my life. My mum has photos of me as a child dangling in self made harnesses from the balustrades of the staircase, climbing trees, rescuing my sisters from rooftops and I distinctly remember cartwheeling being my transportation mode of choice. So it’s funny seeing a correlation to those kinds of events and my life now. My recent trip to Iceland had me dangling out the door of an open helicopter (this time with a real harness), losing a muffler while 4-wheel driving through rocky scenes reminiscent of moonscapes and swimming in active volcanos and earth fissures. I’m often climbing various ladders, trees, structures and hiking mountains to get a vantage point for shooting and my cartwheeling has transformed into motorcycling. On an expedition to Svalbard, in the North Pole, I came face to face with a polar bear and was chased in a boat by a herd of 1 tonne walruses… and on my way home our plane accidentally over-swung the runway landing and we had to be towed out of the grass back to the airport. So as it would seem, the opportunity for interesting haps and mishaps is endless. I also now consider myself a 5-star campsite chef because of all the cooking on the road and I’m proud to be Baked Beans’ number 1 customer.

 

Megan Morton Book: It's Beautiful Here photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Eugenia Lim at Assembly Papers Melbourne office shot for Megan Morton’s Book ‘It’s Beautiful Here*’.

Megan Morton Book: It's Beautiful Here photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Eugenia Lim at Assembly Papers Melbourne office shot for Megan Morton’s Book ‘It’s Beautiful Here*’.

 

+ What advice would you give to emerging photographers who want to follow your path? What was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting your practice?

I would encourage anyone who has a passion for photography to absolutely pursue it! It has been so rewarding in ways I can’t express and I am so fortunate for stumbling across it. A huge lesson I have learned is that you have to willingly throw yourself in the deep end. There is no such thing as a comfort zone in this job. Every shoot is always new and different and you have to go with the flow, problem solve and sometimes flat out not know what you’re doing but pretend you do. It’s very much a learn as you go career and that’s all part of the excitement. You also have to challenge yourself to be better every time. I look back at old work and mostly I hate it, but I see this as a good thing because it means I’ve grown and moved on from that point in my life. I would also encourage confidence and not being afraid to reach out to people both for work and for moral support or advice. I have many people to thank for helping me on my journey. I try to give that back where I can. Lastly, just be kind. No one likes an ego.

 

Iceland photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Iceland’ series.

Iceland photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Iceland’ series.

Iceland photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Iceland’ series.

New Zealand photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘New Zealand’.

Photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
NYU Stern School of Business building in the lower west side of Manhattan.

 

+ What are you most proud of professionally? And what has been your favourite shoot/ project so far?

I honestly am so grateful to be in the position I am in right now. I have moved cities and countries in pursuit of my work because I love it, and I just want to keep evolving, progressing and experiencing new places. I am proud of myself for taking the risks and leaps necessary to pursue it, because they haven’t been easy transitions by any means. But throughout the difficulty, complications, fear and the unknown, time has proven that it is always worth the risk. Picking a favorite shoot… I would have to say that hanging out of a helicopter over the rugged landscape of Iceland last year for my new personal series ‘Mineral Matter’ takes the cake. I can’t begin to describe the feeling I had. It was pure heart wrenching joy.

 

Interview with Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Brooke dangling out the door of an open helicopter in Iceland. Um, yikes! Photo by Jeff Albert.

Salt and Sky photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Salt and Sky’ series.

Salt and Sky photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Salt and Sky’ series.

Salt and Sky photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
‘Salt and Sky’ series.

 

+ What would be your dream creative project or a collaboration?

There are so many! Right now I’m so happy working with the design/architecture community in New York and building those relationships and meeting new people. But the ultimate collaboration for me would be with NASA. I’m a real space nerd. I already asked them once to send me to Mars to take photos but they politely said no… for now.

 

CULTx by Adam Goodrem photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Marsha Golemac | Yellowtrace
Adam Goodrum x CULT Design Campaign. Styling by Marsha Golemac.

Ladies and Gentlemen Studio photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
NYCxDesign Pop-Up In New York by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio x SP01.

 

Let’s Get Real:

+ If I was not a photographer, I would be…

Definitely astronaut, there just isn’t anything more awesome than that.

+ Your most treasured belonging?

Videos of my three sisters and I when we were little. My mum just had them all converted to digital files and we are all watching them for the first time. It’s magical. And it’s proof that documentation is so important!

+ What’s the best mistake you have ever made?

Perhaps studying a useless degree that gave me no real skills, but then having it lead me to where I am now in an unexpected way.

+ What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I’m extremely silly. And I laugh at my own dad jokes.

+ It’s not very cool, but I really like…

Spending hours reading forums about Game of Thrones theories.

 

BitPart by Hannah Tribe photographed by Brooke Holm & styling by Megan Morton | Yellowtrace
Shot for BitPart. Styling by Megan Morton.

Loose Leaf photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Photo from ‘Loose Leaf Book.’ Published by Hardie Grant.

New York Times T Magazine Bars photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Bar Shoot for The New York Times – T Magazine.

New York Times T Magazine Men's Still Life photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Men’s still life shoot for The New York Times – T Magazine.

New York Times T Magazine Men's Still Life photographed by Brooke Holm | Yellowtrace
Men’s still life shoot for The New York Times – T Magazine.

 


[Images courtesy of Brooke Holm.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

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