Allie Hine is a portrait and fashion photographer who has set roots here in Atlanta. Since graduating Portfolio Center she has been published in Local Wolves and Lucy’s Magazine and worked with top models all around town. I sat down with her over coffee to see if going to a 2-year school versus a 4-year college set her on her path quicker and what knowledge she had for budding photographers that want to be in her freelance shoes.
AE: What got you into photography? Why did you finally decide on fashion photography as your niche?
AH: I always joke about this but basically I started back in the Myspace days because I wanted to have a cool profile picture. 2007 or 2008 I wanted to have a cool profile picture so I started to take self portraits with just a point and shoot camera. Then in 8th grade I asked for my first DSLR and it sparked from there. I fell in love with it and eventually it turned into people wanting to pay me to do stuff and I realized I wanted to turn it into a career. Right out of high school I knew I wanted to study photography so I went straight to school from there. I guess it morphed into fashion at that point. I started out with self portraiture and then turned into me taking photos of my friends in pretty places. Then that sparked into fashion. It just seemed the most ideal for what I liked doing. I like shooting people and interacting with someone in front of the camera.
AE: How would you describe your photographic style? What sets you apart from other photographers here in Atlanta?
AH: I would say that is has an elegance to it and a sophistication. I feel like one of my strong suits in shooting is if I can make someone feel comfortable in front of the camera if they don’t feel so. I pride myself in that because it is hard to make people feel good on set. Because you want them to feel comfortable enough to trust you. Anyways, my work is lighthearted and light. Pretty clean and simple. I want my images to look stylized and timeless as well. That can stand the test of time. 20 years later it’s still a good image.
AE: I saw that you attended Portfolio Center. As a 4 year art school grad I am interested to know why you chose to go to a two year portfolio school versus a 4 year institution for photography? What would you say to photographers that are looking to get educated on the craft and wondering how to choose between the two?
AH: Back in high school I knew I wanted to go to school for photography but I didn’t know where. Initially it was SCAD because that was the first main art school I had heard of. So I looked into SCAD and it was cool but it wasn’t what I wanted. I think it turned me off that I had to do take all the prerequisites. It didn’t make sense for me to spend 2 years doing drawing class and other classes that I didn’t want to take. The way they made it seem when I visited was that I would have to do all these fine art classes first before I even touch a camera. I’m not a hands-on fine artist. So my uncle lives here in Atlanta and he had heard of Portfolio Center because he’s in the art world and suggested it. I went and toured it and fell in love with it. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to go to something that was 2 years instead of SCAD but it was such a great fit. I got to immediately go into photography and learn such great skills like lighting. I knew I didn’t want to go to regular college. I figured why go thousands of dollars in debt and get a degree in something that I don’t want to do when I could just do photography. So my business started up in high school where I started out doing weddings and engagements. I had gotten a taste of the freelance life and I realized that was what I wanted to do. I have enough drive I feel like to be my own boss and set my own schedule.
AE: Have you shadowed any photographers or had any internships? If so, how important is it to the growth of a photographer to have mentors or assist more established photographers?
AH: I interned at Big Studio with Liz von Heone here in Atlanta. I was about a year into school when I interned there. She mostly shoots in New York so she’s rarely in Atlanta, but I am so grateful to have stepped foot in BIG studio because from there, it the snowball effect happened! Studying under Sarah Storrer, her studio manager was immensely helpful. That’s how I got plugged in with Spin Style, the local styling agency here in Atlanta. That was a change in my career and how I viewed things. I got to see a glimpse of the editorial world and the commercial world and other photographers who are out there doing it and making a living doing photography.
The summer after I graduated I went to to New York to study under Rodney Smith for about 6 weeks. He’s been in the business forever as a fine art and fashion photographer that shoots only film. Sadly it wasn’t anything like I expected it to be so I ended up cutting it short. I’m still thankful for the experience. Anytime you can get a minute with a photographer that’s farther along than you take advantage of it. There’s always going to be someone better than you that knows more so those are the people that you want to stick around. Especially BIG Studio. That whole summer really pushed me in my own art and how I create. Just learning what goes into it was helpful like seeing the art directors and producers and the PA’s. I got a taste of the fashion world and I like it a lot. It’s been fun to be a part of the creative Atlanta community, especially the photography world.
AE: As a freelance photographer, what have you learned about the business since graduating school? How do you go about finding working in a growing market such as Atlanta?
AH: I think it’s all about who you know and I feel like everyone says that. Networking is so vital. Like I said, meeting the Spin Style girls led to me meeting other photographers and so on and so forth. It’s definitely all about who you know and treat everyone kindly because you never know who’s gonna be somewhere someday. You see people in the photo world that can be kind of jerks. Life is too short to be like that. In the long run it could pay off. As far as freelance life, it’s hard. There’s going to be slow seasons. It all comes at once or it doesn’t come at all. It’s one of those ebb and flow kind of deals. For the past couple of weeks it's been kind of slow and then this week I’ve had 3 or 4 things. You just have to go with the flow and trust that the next thing is going to come.
I think word of mouth has been the biggest thing as far as marketing myself. I’m sure people have me through social media and it is such a huge tool but word of mouth does go far. Your character speaks more and you work ethic and the way you treat people goes far beyond any post on Instagram. Also being bold enough to go to those mixers or to go to a party that someone is having just to meet people and get your face out there.
AE: As far as collaboration, how do you go about finding models, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists and hair stylists to collaborate with?
AH: So when I first started in school and I was doing a bunch of fashion shoots, literally it started with me shooting friends. Thankfully I have family here and a family member connected with one person and then from there it was a domino effect. It was really just finding people at the right time that were also trying to build their book. In the very beginning I found a makeup artist who was just starting out too and from there on we kept working together. To this day she’s one of my favorite makeup artists to work with. Not being afraid to reach out to people like you reached out to me and that is so great. I’ve done that with plenty of people by just reaching out to them on facebook and saying hey if you need to build your portfolio I’m looking for x. I would constantly be posting on Facebook. Being okay with either getting rejected or best case scenario them saying yes. Just don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
AE: What advice do you have for those looking to get into the industry, let alone fashion photography?
AH: Work hard. Be humble. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Put yourself out there and reach out to people like you are with interviewing. When I came back from New York I reached out to Darcie Adler from Spin Style and said I’m willing to do anything and everything, paid and unpaid. I just want to get my foot in the door. Through that came so many opportunities. A big thing for me was that I don’t really look at other people’s work because I compare myself too much. Most of my inspiration comes from other types of art. Don’t get fixated on finding your favorite photographer.