Hannah Koehler is a commercial photographer currently based in Austin, TX. Working with local and international brands to create campaigns, lookbooks, and more, she has truly harnessed her gift and turned it into something spectacular. Hannah captures beautiful moments on camera with her impeccable eye and gift for bringing her subjects to life on film. Read on to learn more about her passion for photography, collaborating on social media, advice for aspiring photographers, and a lot more!
Growing up in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, I was always taking road trips with my family to national parks and tiny desert towns stuck in the 70's... although I didn't know it yet, I was coming to have a deep love and appreciation for the visuals of desert life and the terracotta color palette of the southwest. Working as a freelance graphic designer out of school (where I took as many digital photography and editing courses as I could!), I found the most happiness when I was working the occasional photography job. I realized at some point that I really wasn't a true working photographer, just an occasional hobbyist, and this bothered me very much! I wanted to do real photography work, so I decided to become a commercial photographer. I reached out to friends, as well as people I admired online, to ask for collaborative shoots that would fit my future vision. I then reworked my website to specialize in photography, using my new portfolio that exemplified the kind of jobs I wished to land! After a year of working freelance photography jobs while simultaneously continuing with a more personally stressful graphic design career, I hit a wall and needed a mental reset. I spent a summer in nature, working in Yellowstone National Park in customer service. While I was away (and posting as many beautiful forest instagram photos as I could!), a few potential commercial clients reached out to me, and in the fall of 2015 I became a full time photographer. A long solo road trip took me away from Arizona into Texas in 2016, and quickly led me to meet many creative people in Marfa and Austin with whom I later had the opportunity to work! I am currently living in Austin Texas, with frequent road trips back into the desert for work and for personal photography.
I love that taking a photo is an honest replication of what is in front of the lens, and yet with the right perspective, vision, and with artistic use of equipment, we can create images that are also surreal. Images that show how a moment feels is what really excites me about photography! When I photograph people, I like to capture little in-between moments. I love facial expressions that are hard to read! Most of all, I want the viewer to look at a portrait and feel the humanity of that person, and connect with him or her emotionally in some way.
I often shoot clothing and other products...I am always the happiest when portraiture of some kind is included in these shoots! I love photographing people. Even with a flat lay of products on a table, adding a human touch such as a hand reaching into the frame can transform an image.
The most beautiful images in my opinion are the ones that make you want to jump into that captured moment. The ones that you save or pin because you want to go to that place, or because you want to feel the way that the subject of the photo looks.
Thank you so much! My top three tips are:
I have met or remained in touch with virtually all of my creative friends as a result of Instagram. Probably 50% of my client base has learned of me through my Instagram. I love that despite any normal social media pitfalls, Instagram remains a place to find those people who see the world the way you do... and often those people want to meet up and do cool things! It is also an immediate and oddly personal way to learn about what is happening in the art world even if you are thousands of miles away, liking photos from afar.
Don't wait for better gear or a job offer to take the photos you want to create. Do the best you can with what gear you have or with what you can rent, and reach out to others and ask if they will participate in your idea... it might be just the artistic opportunity they have been waiting for!