A Day in the Life of an Industry Expert: Heather Landis
Name: Heather Landis
Clients: Interscope Records, Simon & Schuster, Playboy, Urban Outfitters
The photography I have included above is from Heather’s portfolio entitled ‘Abyss of the Disheartened’. It is a beautiful collection of photographs which tell a narrative and create a visual spectacle in equal measure. The movement projected in the clothes, bodies, and water is stunning, and easily coveys what Heather conceptualised as ‘the feeling of being in love’. She described it an emotion ‘where you can feel this safe floating and sense of drowning simultaneously. There’s a comfort and a danger when you begin to fall in love with someone, eventually the relationship primarily falls into one of those two sensations’. The dichotomy between the darkness of the water, and the light beaming down on the two lovers, perfectly expresses the danger and comfort Heather describes – love as an unknown, passionate and terrifying entity.
Heather describes a day in the life of a photographer as ‘Chaotic and fun. If you plan ahead, have a good idea and good company to work with you will feel like the luckiest person to have the job of a photographer.’ Asked how she got into the photography industry, Heather remarked ‘I took an introductory summer class in community college and immediately fell in love with the camera. From that class on I obsessively shot concepts, portraits of friends, pets and places and built a portfolio to get into an art school, my ideal school of choice was Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, which is also the one I ended up attending’.
Asked on the photographic process, Heather responded ‘the process of photography is pretty simple once you understand the technical aspects of photography. It really helps to understand light, have strong subjects (models) and time to properly shoot and edit your concept. Once you get into the habit of organizing a set and are willing to push yourself, you can complete some incredible shoots’.
Despite having worked for some big names in her three years of professional photography work, such as Playboy and Urban Outfitters, Heather prefers home life. ‘I started about a year ago working as a photo illustrator on top of being a photographer. Between my photo illustration work and my photography I’ve started to enjoy working at home on collages more than travelling for photography. But, I still do both because I get an equal amount of work from both medias’.
But travelling isn’t the worst part of the job: ‘The worst aspects are losing jobs you really want to shoot to another photographer, a freelancer’s income, working with new people who are moody or flaky (rarely happens but still exists, ugh!)’. Well, that certainly doesn’t sound like much fun. What are the best parts of being a professional photographer? ‘I think the best aspects of my job are being creative on a daily basis, working with other creative people, creating products for people to enjoy, and being my own boss’.
And finally, some words of advice for any aspiring photographers out there: ‘I think its important to be honest and open with yourself. If you’re a creative person and show early skills, continue to build on that. There are a myriad amount of jobs in the art world. If you’re creative and talented as any kind of artist you should strive to continue working as one with a good education. The art world is incredibly competitive and full of talented people who will become your friends and future competition. It’s important to have a strong work ethic, have a healthy ego and a desire to create things. It’s also incredibly important to have a variety of skills, being ‘great’ at one thing doesn’t mean anything now. Spread out your talents and learn as much as you can in your fields of interest’.