A Warm Daydream


An interview with Hollie Fernando

Hollie Fernando is a British photographer based in Brighton who creates dreamlike-imagery, combining bodies and landscapes with a rich and considered color palette. The result is a delicate fantasy world – ethereal, free, and all the more inviting in these locked-down times.

Her new book, Hollie Fernando is available now through Setanta Books and brings together some of her most compelling images of the last few years. Keen to learn more we put some questions to her…

Hi Hollie. Congratulations on the publication of the book. There might not be a specific concept to the images, but there are definitely underlying themes of reverie and escapism in nature. How would you describe the book? What ideas were you trying to convey?

Hey! Thanks so much! I am so happy with how the book has turned out, I think the design is absolutely beautiful. There is no solid concept you are right, we decided to go with a broad selection of my work shot outside which happens to go together quite fluidly. I’d put this down to trying to approach all my shoots with the same sense of fantasy and fun, whether they are commercial or personal.

As you say, the book draws together work from a number of your series. How was the selection and curation process?

It does yes, I think there are maybe only five or six images that are from commissioned shoots. But interestingly these commissioned shoots are ones that I had complete creative control over, so would be in the same realm as my personal studies.

The curation process was so great! I worked with Tom from Open Doors on the selection. I gave him a big folder of my work and handed him the reigns for the layout, as I love seeing how other people edit my work together. He drew together a wonderful flowing story that I’m over the moon with!

You live and work in Brighton – a place on the British south coast with rolling countryside to the north. Is the work an ode to that as well? Or is sense of place less important to you?

Sense of place means everything to me! It’s where I find creativity and inspiration for stories. A lot of the work in the book is pre-Brighton, but new places and faces is definitely what gets my gears whirring.

Talk us through your working process – do you head out into the countryside with specific images in your mind’s eye, or is it more spontaneous than that? Is it a collaborative process with your models?

I don’t set out with specific images in mind necessarily… I would say I had more specific locations. I have been exploring and hiking a lot of the countryside that surrounds Brighton this year in lockdown so when I come across somewhere that I feel an affinity with, or holds a certain mood I can immediately see images in my head and know what would work. When shooting, it is definitely a collaboration with my subjects though! I like letting people interact with their surroundings naturally and we’ll just work an idea or scene until we get something lovely.

And your post-processing techniques sound interesting – digitizing analog images and using a second layer of colour references from your previous work. How does this work in practice?

So, I will hand print a lot of my work and scan it in to digitise it, and all my ‘retouching’ usually entails is dust picking and colour correcting. Over the years, I have realised I will have my favourite blue for the sky and a certain green I always fall on for grass etc. I normally bring up my last shoot and colour match so everything looks cohesive.

Do you have a favorite image from the book, or perhaps one that best sums it up?

If I had to pick one, it would be my beautiful friend Ella, the redhead, lying in the yellow flowers with hiking boots on. This is from a new on-going series that was born out of the first lockdown with my other wonderful friend and stylist Lottie Warren. Lottie and I used to meet for socially distanced hikes over the South Downs throughout summer and started bringing friends along to style and shoot when the restrictions eased. Personally, I feel it metaphorically best sums up the book as it is all about being immersed, relaxed and at one with nature, which was something that we didn’t get to experience so freely this year, but that image was from the first time I felt slightly ‘normal’ after C-19 hit.