“I was originally inspired by the haute couture editorials in high gloss magazines. But I don’t quite connect with it anymore. Now I’m mostly inspired by retro and vintage photograhy I find online and I’m much more intrigued by a mysterious lady wearing Keds in a BBQ setting having a moment to herself than some zany expensive fashion world”
San Francisco based talent Hana Haley takes photos of things that inspire her. And her inspiration can be really anything. Watching her work is like dipping into the soft and dreamy version of Alice in Wonderland. Consistently surprising, by a majority idyllic and always youthful.
I read your passion for photography started when you picked up a W magazine around 10 years ago. Are you still a reader of this magazine? And what are your influences besides youth culture?
I was originally inspired by the haute couture editorials in magazines like W (I had a yearly subscription to them when I was 13 years old) as well as the bygone film photography of a younger Nylon magazine, but now I’m mostly inspired by retro and vintage photography I find online. W magazine remains to be very high fashion, which I don’t quite connect with anymore. I’m much more intrigued by a mysterious lady wearing Keds in a BBQ setting having a moment to herself than some zany expensive fashion world. Over the past 5 years I’ve become much more influenced by filmmakers and fictional stories than actual fashion magazines.
How would your friends describe you?
“She’s a funny, sweet, big-eyed girl with a true talent for her Britney Spears impersonation but pretty bad at returning phone calls.”
What is the essence of a good picture?
A sense of story or human emotion.
Browsing your images you have a very soft, dreamy and nostalgic style. Is that what you want to capture in your pictures? And how would you describe your own work?
Timelessness is what I wish to capture in my images… I can’t stand photos that try so hard to encapsulate a specific era. Like, “Oh we are having a 90s themed photoshoot” so literally every prop is from the 90s, the hairstyles, clothes, makeup, ect. Where’s the creativity in that? In copying and pasting an idea into modern times? There’s no interpretation. What’s amazing about living in 2014 is the resources to so much inspiration and knowledge of the decades and movements that just happened, but it’s important that I apply them to being alive today. It’s my hope the images feel they belong in the past just as much as they belong in the present (which is also how I’d like to describe my work!)
Planned vs spontaneous?
I get really giddy about planned shoots (location scouting around San Francisco, making mood boards, drawing really bad pose sketches) and it’s definitely my preference, but sometimes these photos feel too staged because I put so much thought into them. Spontaneous shoots are rejuvenating but usually I’m bored with the photos because they end up feeling too simple. Problem photographer right here.
What advice would you give a younger you?
I’d probably tell myself “Hey, messy-haired girl. Stop worrying about your work not being good enough. That’s what everyone does, why be like everyone else? It’s always enough.” and “Take a class on editing skin tones not the French language. Waste of time, ma fille.”
What, besides photography draws your interest?
Filmmaking, directing, acting, writing and performing comedy. Really anything that allows me to be creative and visual and use my good ol’ imagination.
If we were to hang out in San Francisco for a night to talk about god and life, what place would we end up?
Most likely my house. I live in a 15 bedroom Victorian that was the first hostel in San Francisco back in the 70s. It has a lot of history, color and character… plenty of old lamps and velvet couches to sit upon and drink all night. I have had many guests over and we never want to go out.
What means success to you?
Simply getting what I want for myself/ finishing whatever I started.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
I’ll be in an apartment in the big apple, finally preparing my own dinners and cocktails and having one or two of my own independently produced films sitting on the table ready to premiere to a circle of happy friends and a pet dog. Ahhh I want this.
Do you have any words to live by?
I have the words “Be Truthful” tattooed on my inner leg… it’s a saying from my acting school that I graduated from last year, but I find these words relevant in most everything I want to do.