Personal & Professional Growth with Hannah Cochran
Hannah, tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Northern CA and I went to college at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania where I played D1 soccer. After graduation I had a short stint in Philadelphia before moving to Boston in 2013. As a design student, I dabbled in all types of art mediums like photography, graphic, interior, installation, architecture, drawing, painting, sculpture, until I finally decided to focus on digital design and development.
In college I felt extra pressure to work really hard and stand out, because most students at Lehigh either studied engineering or finance. Hard work paid off. I’ve worked with some amazing people and companies like Anthropologie, Tiffany and Co., Harvard University and Google. I’m currently one of the Mobile App designers at Bank of America and I’m also a freelance photographer based here in Boston. When I’m not working, I love binge watching the latest and greatest Netflix show and flipping through endless interior design and architecture magazines.
What got you into photography?
Like most designers, I’ve been intrigued by all types of art. I started taking photography seriously at the end of 2016. My boyfriend Jon and I had some trips planned in 2017 and I wanted to take photos that were better than my iPhone. I used those travel plans as an excuse to start investing in better photography gear. A little side note about me - I either do something 100% or I don’t do it at all. So when I took up photography, I took several online courses, attended a bunch of Boston meet-ups and even gave myself homework so I could make sure I was practicing certain techniques. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time Googling ‘How to ___ via YouTube’ and leveraging Pinterest to hone in on my aesthetic. I’ve shot every weekend for the past year.
What are your favorite type of shoots? What is your favorite season to shoot?
My favorite shoots are when I’m traveling and capturing beautiful interiors. Interiors and spaces have always been my first love, even before digital design. When I was a kid, all my friends were reading Teen Vogue and I was reading Architectural Digest. I remember tearing out sections I loved and making mood-boards for my future home. It’s exciting to be able to explore both passions (interiors and photography) through one medium. I don’t have a favorite season to shoot because they are all amazing in their own way, but I love shooting in the morning.
Do you have any advice for being comfortable and confident during a photoshoot?
Yes! It’s so hard to feel comfortable in front of the camera; trust me, I know. So a few things I try to remind the people I photograph is to:
Have open communication between you and your photographer. Your photographer wants to catch you at your best, so trust that they are doing all they can to make you look great. If you’re struggling with something, ask for help!
Don’t slouch and keep your chin up so your neck looks nice and long.
Don’t feel like you have to smile the entire time.
Look just slightly to the left or right of the camera, instead of directly at it.
Keep moving around. Be silly and loosen up; turn on some music and dance around if you want to. Freezing up in front of the camera is the worst thing you can do. If you know you’re getting some headshots or lifestyle shots, don’t be afraid to practice in the mirror and gather inspiration from Pinterest so you can try to emulate a certain look.
I can see from your Instagram that you love to travel. What are some of your favorite trips? What's next on your bucket list?
Yes, I love to travel! Traveling makes me feel more alive than anything else. It gives me a different perspective on the world and I love seeing how other cultures and cities express themselves through architecture and design. My favorite place to date is Dubai and Mykonos, Greece. In 2018 I plan to go to Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Hawaii, Paris, Tulum Mexico and a California Coast road trip.
What is your favorite New England getaway?
Oh that’s so hard. I absolutely love anywhere along the coast of Maine and am a sucker for a long weekend on Nantucket.
How do you manage work/life balance?
I feel like it’s been just this past year or so where I’ve really learned how to balance work and life. For the first few years out of college I worked my ass off, which had extremely high highs and really low lows. After 5 years I was burnt out. Now in my late 20s, my priorities have shifted from wanting to work at places with ‘fun culture’ and ‘cool clients’ to wanting more independence and flexible work hours to spend outside the office. Now that I’ve found that, I’ve never been happier. I have more time to travel, to spend with friends and family, and to go after other creative passions like photography and learning the piano.
What are you favorite ways to relax and unwind?
My favorite way to unwind is with a good massage and a pedicure. I’m also a big movie buff, because I love being in awe over how amazing cinematography is today. One day I’d love to work in Hollywood - how awesome would it be to design a movie poster or be a part of the photography direction for a film?!
What inspires you?
So much inspires me! Since I’ve already mentioned traveling, Nicole Franzen, Alice Gao, Greta Rybus, and Skandia Shafer are a few photographers I really admire. Paul Gauguin is my all time favorite artist and Georgia O’keefe will always hold a special place in my heart. Elite athletes like marathon runners have always impressed me with their mental strength and with today's political climate, anyone who fights for social justice really inspires me to get more involved.
What career goals do you have? What is your plan to get yourself there?
To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. For the first time in my career, I’m not looking at what’s next. Instead, I’m focusing on the now. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am in my career and I enjoy what I do. As far as photography, I’ve really just started to scratch the surface of possibilities. I want to do more and more spacial photography like homes, restaurants and hotels. It’s a dream of mine to be in Architectural Digest one day. I’d also love to dabble in food photography; maybe one day shooting an entire cookbook alongside a passionate chef.
What are your tips for aspiring photographers?
First things first, take a photography class! Learn the history and the fundamentals of composition and light before jumping into the technical parts of a camera. There are lots of free resources online with a simple Google search. YouTube will become your best friend. I love Creative Live for paid classes as well.
If it’s your first time buying a camera, definitely rent before you buy. There are endless questions (like DSLR v. Mirrorless) that you’ll need to ask yourself. When you’re ready to buy, I suggest purchasing the next level up, because with any technology you’ll want to upgrade quickly after mastering it. Increase your gear list over time; there’s no need to buy everything at once.
Go to meet-ups, network, join local photography groups. When you’re ready don’t be afraid to promote yourself on social media so you can grow your client base. Stay true to your vision, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself creatively once in awhile. Stay committed to practicing - like with anything, what you put into it is what you get.
Gallery of Hannah's Work
*If you’re looking for a photographer to shoot your space or collaborate on a project, you can reach Hannah at email@example.com.