I recently caught up with William Hereford, a Virginia native photographer based in Brooklyn. His work includes fashion, lifestyle, food, and anything else that tickles our fancies. There’s not much this fun fella cannot capture, so I’ve asked him a few things about his Instagram, which has reached well over five thousand followers!
So how did you get started with photography?
I started mostly in a traditional way as a photography assistant to Chris Craymer, the fashion photographer. I basically bagged, borrowed and stole my way as an assistant for a while, until I started to do videography with him. It was kind of like opening up a restaurant. You start with just buying the fish and the vegetables, and once you learn the tricks of the trade, you have your options of whether to stay an assistant, or to go and start your own. After two years, I made the decision to leave and do my own thing.
How did you get started on Instagram?
Just like everyone else, I downloaded it without really knowing what it was. They cleverly built in the “like” system so to me it seemed like I was basically getting points for my photos and it was something intuitive so it was fun. I think a lot of Instagramers like to make it as if they own their own magazines and so they spend a lot of time creating their own posts and making their breakfasts look really good for it, but I kind of just take pictures of whatever I’m working on, whatever I’m doing and if people like it, great and if they don’t they don’t have to. I follow plenty of people who make great looking breakfasts, I’m just not really one of them.
Who would you say are some of your influences?
So I worked for a fashion photographer so I learned all of my lighting in fashion industry. When I quit being an assistant, I was just scrapping to make rent. I did a test by making a video on how to cook duck breast, and it was made with some really moody music and I made it look pretty sexy and it became viral. Everyone started blogging it, and without any training I became a food photographer. I didn’t know what I was doing so I looked for a lot of inspiration from food photography. I was looking at Rowan’s work, and the the covers that he shot for gourmet magazine just looked like such great lifestyle in food. So I was like here is my fashion experience, and here is my food photography, here is someone who is blending the two together so here is inspiration.
Another big influence that inspires me are old movies. I think that is a big part of my inspiration, are movies. So when people want to know what I’m thinking of for a new campaign, or a new project, I think in terms of stills for movies instead of people’s photographs. We live in a time of story telling, and a lot of my inspirations come from directors and producers who were able to tell their stories and their selves through film.
So I know of certain photographers that used the feedback from Instagram as a sort of inspiration for some of their new work outside of social media, putting it towards their own personal portfolio. Would you say that is similar to your case?
So what I do for living is what I consider my personal portfolio. Ninety percent of the time I think of myself as an architect, so I am given a certain set of parameters to work in and rules to follow. So when I am given them, what I think is how can we take these rules and parameters and create an amazing photograph. That’s what I love most about photography, is the problem solving. If someone said the photo industry is dead, that means there is no more work left for me to do, and that’s wrong. If you want to take a picture yourself, go ahead, I don’t know where my work would go. What I love best is collaborating with different photographers that have so much more experience, and always bring something different to the table, and we all create something new and beautiful. I’m flattered that people look at my life through Instagram, but I do not necessarily look at the comments made or let that determine what I am to do next.
Have you gotten any cool work or gigs from your Instagram?
Yes I would say I get 20-30 percent of my work from Instagram. It’s a very small industry and everyone is paying attention to what everyone’s doing. Someone will see your work and follow you. What I see when you book jobs as a photographer is you want people knowing your name. I know that a lot of photographers will say that the most important thing is to keep shooting, shooting, shooting, and its true. But what people don’t realize is that from shooting all the time, what also happens is that from working all the time and shooting all the time, you get your name out into the world, and that’s how you become more well known. When I’m posting about what I’m doing, what I’m currently working on and how it’s coming along, it all strings into that concept. Its about putting your name in the world and that leads to getting work.
Don’t forget to follow @williamhereford !