Interview: Mitchell Hollander
Mitchell Hollander is a professional photographer who has featured in the 'Shot on iPhone' campaign for Apple and has contributed to the latest issue of Water Journal.
Photography: Mitchell Hollander
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
I'm originally from New Orleans, Louisiana but I now live in Nashville, Tennessee. I moved to Nashville to pursue a career in Software Engineering (which is presently what I do for a living) in January of 2014. When I got there I was shocked to see how many people were so into photography. Literally everyone and their mother was a photographer. Coming from a place like New Orleans, where all the kids that I knew were either into skateboarding or baseball, it was a completely different environment and aesthetic in Nashville. After meeting a few new friends, who were really into photography and were fantastic at it (@danielchaney, @mika.matin, and @evan.boutte), I thought it would be a great time to dive into a new hobby. That was also around the time that Apple started that 'Shot on iPhone' campaign, which I thought was so beautifully done and inspiring. After seeing the campaign and meeting my new friends, I decided to finally go out and buy myself a camera and started to learn the basics. It took me a while to finally get to where I didn't dislike my photos. Now, I can honestly say that I found a point of comfort in my photography.
What professional work have you completed?
As a photographer, I've had a few gigs here and there. My favorite being the time I got to be featured in Apple's 'Shot on iPhone 6s' campaign in 2016. As I mentioned earlier, the first "Shot on iPhone" campaign was one of the reasons I got into photography in the first place. When I got that email, telling me that one of my iPhone shots (above image) had been selected to be in the upcoming campaign, it was like a dream come true for me. Especially when the photo is a picture of your fiancé (Tobias) and it would go on to be plastered on billboards all around the world that was probably the highlight of anything I've done. Most recently though, I've been given the opportunity to be a part of Volume 3 of Water Journal, where a few shots of mine, from Iceland, will be featured. It's a great minimal photography publication about all things water. I'm super stoked about being a part of it.
What is your favourite travel destination?
Iceland, hands down. Tobias and I just got back from there in April and it was probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen. There was something magical about driving for hours and seeing waterfalls and mountains every mile as we drove. It was certainly a photographer’s paradise. After seeing all the photos and hearing about all the adventures people have had there on Instagram, we cracked and booked a flight there 6 months earlier.
What is your favourite location to shoot?
Literally anywhere that is minimal looking, has white walls, and fun architecture. I oddly don't have one particular place I like to shoot. I try to change it up a lot and keep each spot from becoming stale.
What is your favourite style of photography?
Moody Minimalism. I like to try and capture earthy dark tones along with bright whites while at the same time keeping my composition simple. I find that the more negative space you have the more appealing it is to the eye.
Which images would you say have been the most significant for you in your career so far?
Easily the shot of Tobias that was featured in the Apple campaign. After getting into that campaign, I felt like I could do anything photography wise; it was a huge morale booster. I'll never forget the confident feeling I had moving forward after that campaign concluded. My photography was up hill from there.
How would you say social media contributes to your work?
There are only two social media platforms that I actually use: Instagram and Facebook (Facebook is really just shares of my Instagram posts). I only use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends. On the other hand, Instagram has had a huge impact on my work; it allows me to showcase my best photographs and connect with brands and companies who want to collaborate. All of the opportunities I've been offered have been through Instagram.
Where would you love to travel and photograph in the future?
New Zealand would have to be the next great adventure for me. I've always been fascinated by the beautiful mountain ranges. It's also been a big dream of mine to take some long exposures of New Zealand’s renowned night sky. I'd really love to go back to Hawaii and get some shots of the majestic mountain tops with the sun rising or setting. I was really young when I went there last. Now that I’m a photographer, it would really be great to revisit some old familiar spots to get a different perspective of everything.
Which camera do you use and do you have a favourite lens?
I use a Sony A7II. It gets the job done, but I am planning on upgrading soon to the new Sony A9. I am super stoked about that camera. My favorite lens would have to be my Sony Zeiss 35mm f2.8. I absolutely love that lens. Mainly because 35mm is my favorite focal length and its just wide enough and just narrow enough to get a nice all around flat shot. I also like it because it fits in the palm of your hand and is easy to carry. I'm a huge fan of small prime lenses.
What is your favourite gadget or must have travel accessory?
My Mophie Powerstation 8x. That thing is a powerhouse. I don't use it too often but I always have it with me on adventures just incase. When I do need it, it's a life saver.
What do you use for post-processing?
I personally like to use Adobe Lightroom with some added VSCO presets. I also have some of my own presets that I normally use but sometimes I'll want to try something new. So I'll go through some of the VSCO presets and adjust from there.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
As a Software Engineer, I have a lot of down time so when I’m not working, I’m normally researching new techniques and getting up to date with all the latest topics on gear and best practices. It’s another job in and of itself.
Have you got a favourite photograph?
As of right now, my favorite is the picture of Tobias and I in front of Skógafoss Waterfall, in Iceland. I just love how perfect that picture came out. There was a split moment where there was absolutely no one near the waterfall. So I decided to quickly get my tripod and snap a shot of both of us in front of the falls. The end result turned out indescribable.
Whose work has influenced you the most?
Nicole Mason (@neekmason). Easily my favorite photographer out there. She manages to keep it simple with beautiful earthy tones while at the same time tell a vast and intricate story. I hope to someday reach her caliber of photography.
What advice would you give to another photographer?
Well, in my opinion, it’s always good to have a really detailed game plan and also a plan B. So before you go on a trip, I’d say, get a map of the area that you intend to explore. Research the area and just be prepared for any inconveniences you may have - because they will happen. It’s also not a bad idea to plan in an extra day or two of rest, because you may never know when a storm might alter your plans or if you might over exhaust yourself during the course of the trip. It’s best to just be ready for anything.