Holly is inspired by all aspects and ranges of photography; however, she finds her biggest influences are more grounded in music and various genres of writing. For many years while out shooting, she would wear headphones, listening to mixed-tapes while hunting for shadows to capture. Music billowing in her ears created a narrow-focused landscape of the immediate world around her and caused her to remain true to Weegee’s (Arthur Fellig) quotes of “F/8 and Be There.”
Holly is a graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, majoring in Graphic Design. After the birth of her daughter in the mid-1980s, Holly became more focused on being a Photographer. She first started to appear in publications in the early 1990s. 1995 in Washington D.C. provides a pivotal moment in her career as Holly first started to use a 35mm for street photography. Over the next six years, she honed her craft and was hired at the Village Voice in New York City, as a Producer while also shooting street photography for both print and on-line editions. It is also during this time she created and started to established an on-line portfolio showcasing her work dating back to 1999.
Holly was the featured artist in Lightleaks Magazine and was interviewed for the New York Times on the MTA’s attempt to ban photography in the subways after 9/11. The cover of the book The Sins of the Father by David T. Page features her photograph. She has been published in Seities Issue 14/15, Shots Magazine, For the Love of Polaroid, and the Village Voice.
One of the more intriguing aspects of her New York City street work is the stark absence of people. Several of her photographs depict highly trafficked areas with only one or two people who are typically blurred or out of focus. Depending on the camera that she is using, Holly can find the serene in a large metropolis where even the most mundane scene can produce the most fantastic results.
The mid-2000s shows a shift in Holly’s work when she bought a Holga camera and a Polaroid One Shot. Gaining experience with this type of medium, she quickly became enamored with inexpensive cameras, frequently patrolling Ebay weekly in search of older, mirrorless cameras. The oldest camera that Holly currently uses is a Falcon Miniature from 1939. Aside from the numerous broken Holgas still in use, her personal favorites are the Polaroid SX-70 (1972,) Kodak Brownie Bullet (1957) and German Bilora Bella (1953). She typically always has one or a similar version of these cameras with her and would be happy to show it to you.
Holly’s unique approach to her work is in the style and use of the camera she chooses. Restricting herself to the limits of the camera, weather, and film speed forces her to focus on the environment rather than camera settings and general gadgetry. Shooting mostly in black and white, much of her work has a dark ethereal feel due to misfiring shutters, absent light settings or dirt on the rollers. Natural light and a preference for expired film aides Holly in creating the composition of a photograph. She will occasionally hand cut her 120 films down to 127 and re-spool them to be used in one of her cameras, creating a warped, loose roll of film that has been damaged before it is even exposed. Sometimes she continues to damage some of her images further by scanning the negatives and then manipulating them in Photoshop.
For the past several years, Holly’s primary focus has been on the decay of small towns in upstate New York and the abandoned mill towns of Western Pennsylvania. She finds that the broken parts of a small-town mesh perfectly and sets the tone with the broken cameras, expired film, and toy cameras that she uses.
Currently, Holly exclusively prints on Hahnemühle William Turner 190 · 310 gsm · 100% Cotton · white. “With its matt watercolour texture this paper is a genuine mould-made paper in both look and feel. William Turner is ideal for reproductions of traditional artworks and also for striking and expressive photo reproductions.” – As described Hahnemühle. These prints are certified Archival Pigment Prints and are available in limited editions of 10 only.
While several of Holly’s cameras have been modified with tape, flipped lens or by placing rubylith/amberlith over the inside of the lens, she would one day like to build a Frankenstein medium format camera out of different camera parts and shoot exclusively with that camera for one year.
Holly currently lives in Albany, New York with her wife and two black and white cats. ▼