My name’s Hannah Sider, I was born in Malawi, Africa. I’m 25 years old and I'm a photographer. Five years ago I was living in Toronto. I was pretty comfortable… I was finishing my last year of school for fashion communications. I didn’t have to think too much about the future and I was interested in photography but I wasn’t sure if I could turn that into a career. Prior to university I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I was interested in fashion, so the communications program appealed to me because I could study so many different aspects of art, like illustration and design and photography and journalism. And now everyone is just a jack-of-all-trades, especially in New York.
Photography began as a hobby, I had a camera with me all the time and then I started to take more of a fashion focus when I studied fashion. But both of them are related…
fashion is very visual and I think that having that creative eye, is more important
than learning the technical skills of photography because you can always pick those up. But understanding fashion and design, the principles of design, I think that’s really helpful when I’m taking a photograph. So I don’t have an education within photography, I taught myself.
I picked up a lot by trial and error…
every once in a while I’ll be like shit! I’ve been doing this wrong for the last couple of years. And you learn from other people as well.
I definitely feel like a freshman in my field, in the sense that I still have so much to learn and so much more growth. But it’s cool because I left Toronto and now I’m kind of seen as an established photographer because I’m working in New York. So by Toronto’s industry standards, they would probably not say I’m a freshman. But my aesthetic has changed so much in the last two years that I’ve moved to New York, I wouldn’t have experienced those same challenges. Here, you do something that’s out there and everyone’s like cool, but can you push it further than that? because it’s nothing that I haven’t seen before! So that really challenges me to go beyond what is normal and safe. And you don’t stay stagnant at all here.
I’ve been experimenting with film and other things a lot in the last year and instead of staying with what I know and developing that, I’ve really tried to just do everything different.
I never want to stop experimenting.
A lot of photographers have this thing against event photography. They have this… just, disdain for it and I feel like I kind of did and then I was like you know what, I go to all these really cool fashion parties, I see all these really fucking awesome people that have crazy style and I’m just gonna start carrying my camera around everywhere and start shooting them!
And I think that having that attitude of not being too good to do certain jobs… like I’ve done a lot of favors, shot stuff that a lot of photographers felt above and wouldn’t do, unpaid. But those favors have really paid off. If it’s somebody in the industry whose work I really respect and we work well together, I trust that if there’s an opportunity they’ll come back to me. I think that just not being stuck up about things has really gotten me a long way. Plus, I’m having a lot of fun shooting at parties and odd places, and it’s really just taken my style on a different direction.
Right now I’m just inspired by really interesting people.
I keep thinking about those interesting people that aren’t necessarily "somebody". I saw a guy the other night who had tattoos all over his face and lighters through his ears. And I’m just like you are such a character and I have to take a photograph of you. And I did. Obviously there’s tons of famous people that I would love to shoot and having those people in your portfolio elevates your level as a photographer. But they aren’t necessarily as interesting to me as that guy with the lighters in his ears.
And honestly, networking has been so much of a benefit to me; just being able to go to different events and talk to different people. I don’t think that you have to network, there’s a lot of artists that are very introverted who do great things. But especially in a place like New York, I go out and talk to people and we’re genuinely excited about what everyone is doing and there’s this kind of energy. You don’t have to see it as networking, where you have to approach this person and give them a business card.
I don’t think it needs to be something really formal.
It should be inspiring and creative!
FF- Who’s one person’s brain I should pick?
HS- One of my friends who is insanely talented, an amazing photographer and does these pod casts and he’s also just crazy and hilarious, I really enjoy talking to him… is Michael Donavan. I would love to know how his brain works.
Also Michael Jordan! He’s an inspiration. I want to know if he’s thought about our future together at all and if he’s still gambling (laughs).