We had the good fortune of connecting with Holly Freeman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Holly, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
First, I’d like to thank you for asking this question because I think it’s an important one for any creative who cares deeply about their impact and legacy. I feel the gravity of this question when I hear about colleagues leaving the industry, disenchanted because they feel their work in family photography has only fed the social media machine that perpetuates false narratives about everyone’s perfectly happy lives. I have no desire to feed that machine myself, and yet the draw to create images—and not just any images, specifically family portraits—is so strong that I’m compelled to examine and acknowledge the true value of my work. I recognize that believing and purporting false notions about its value not only sets up unrealistic expectations in my clients but creates false hopes in myself that will leave me disappointed at best and shattered at worst when I realize they’re just not true. So I’ve taken some time to carefully consider what my images are and what they are not. My images are not truthful in the way environmental portraiture might be true. I am not trying to show a subject in their natural circumstances, how they survive or thrive in their world. There is a need for this journalistic style of photography—certainly a great deal of good has been done and is being done because of it—but it is not currently my interest, skill set or passion. I know, however, that my images are true in the way they document an individual or a special relationship at a particular moment in time—under the best light, circumstances and instruction possible—and the inherent value of those images is so infinitely beyond the number of “likes” they get on social media, I don’t even mind if that’s the reason a client thinks they want them. The value of family photography, as I see it, is at least twofold. First, there’s the immediate impact of viewing oneself or one’s relationship from an outside perspective—the breathtaking beauty of a mother’s love for her child, for example, and the way viewing that beauty helps the mother know, despite her shortcomings and failures, she is the best possible caregiver for that child. We cannot help but fall in love with an image that accurately captures how we feel about another person. Second, there’s the long term value of images—the way they increase in significance when a family member has passed away, or when years have gone by and that chubby faced baby is now a man, or when generations have gone by, and we want to know about our ancestors and how we are anchored in this particular time and space. There is a storytelling in family portraits that reaches beyond the specific details of the images, that doesn’t need to show the piles of laundry in the corner of the room in order to be “true.” These are the values I hold onto when I consider the way my business helps the community or the world. Photography allows us to capture a moment in time and hold it in our hands for years into the future. These images hold power to help reinforce our memories, to stir in us the emotions we felt at that specific moment and to remind us of our own special place within our tribe. When a family invites me to document their individual members and the beautiful relationships that bind them together, it is a responsibility I take very seriously.

Let’s talk shop. Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
If you had told me when I got out of college that I would one day be a family photographer, I would have laughed at you. I had a passion for art, yes, but no real direction for it. I had studied theatre, but felt a burden to “do something more” with my life. I worked in social work for a few years and then in community and peace building in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It didn’t take long before I became pretty burned out and disenchanted with trying to save the world. My husband and I started a family and one Christmas he gave me a camera so I could make better scrapbooks. And I. Fell. In. Love. I loved the bokeh, I loved the clarity of their little faces on my screen, I loved the printed images that I stashed away in scrapbooks and framed all over our house. As the years passed, I loved looking back and seeing how much they had changed in such a short time. I also couldn’t stop learning. I got every book I could find at the library, sought out other photographers to learn their stories and got some great advice about where to learn and how to make my obsession into a business. In a world absolutely flooded with images and screens, I’d like to believe what sets my business apart is my passion for art that my clients can hold in their hands or hang on their walls and cherish into the future. When I started my business, I was dumping collections of digital files on my families and hoping they would print responsibly, knowing that the images would probably end up lost in the cloud. I realized what they really needed was an image expert who could tell them, “You know what this wall needs? It’s needs this image from our session, at this size and in this medium.” So I spent significant time and resources checking out the options, selecting high quality products that will stand the test of time and fit the aesthetics of the families who seek me out for family portraits. I became a member of the Professional Photographers of America and recently passed the written portion of the Certified Professional Photographers exam. I hope to pass the Image Evaluation portion next month and plan to always keep growing and learning in order to better preserve these precious memories for the families who entrust me with their portraits.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I really love Golden and have missed it ever since we moved to Lakewood. If a friend was vising for the weekend, we would definitely have a breakfast or two at Cafe 13, go for a hike up Chimney Gulch, and spend some time with our feet in Clear Creek. Rewind is one of my favorite consignment shops, so we’d have to stop in there before finishing out the day with beers at Mountain Toad Brewing.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to recognize Kathy Spanski of Kathy Spanski Photography for her kindness and for taking the time to talk with me, instruct me and encourage me to pursue my business.

Website: hollyfreemanphotography.com

Image Credits
Holly Freeman Photography

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