This week’s business of the week is photographer Chrissie Hall. Chrissie’s work is filled with bold colours and bold creativity. She has worked with a number of high profile clients such as Sea Shepherd, PETA and Animal Liberation. I really enjoyed this interview, Chrissie is so passionate about her work, an absolute pleasure!
Find out more about Chrissie here.
Who is Chrissie Hall and how long have you been vegan?
I am a photographer and director specialising in advertising, fashion, portraiture and social documentary.
I have been a vegetarian for 23 years and a vegan for about a year now. And I am loving every minute of it. Since making the change to vegan, I have seen a great improvement in my health, both mind and body, as well as my career.
How long have you been working as a photographer?
I have been working professionally as a photographer for over 15 years, but really it has been in my blood since I was a little girl. It is my passion and I cannot imagine doing anything else. There isn’t a moment where I’m not thinking about the elements and relationship between the landscape and people I walk past, the lighting of a great shot, or an idea for another project. Photography makes up a huge part of my life, which I love sharing with the world.
Are you able to get many clients who share your ethics and how do you get the good ones?
I am a strong advocate for, ‘What you put out there, is what you get’. I have been lucky enough to work with a vast spectrum of clients, both at home and abroad, ranging from boutique to the more mainstream. More recently I have been working with UNSW Sydney and ABC and Animal Liberation who to a certain extent try to engage a more diverse and inclusive audience by being more representative with their content. It is extremely motivating and inspires me to produce my best work when I know my clients stand for such positive value aimed at helping society. Before accepting jobs, I make sure I understand what my clients are looking to achieve, so I know that I can deliver my best work. Hopefully the word is getting around, and that is what’s attracting the “good” clients!
Have you ever had to turn down clients based on what they are selling or wanting to have photographed?
I found myself in a difficult position in my earlier days as a photographer where I was asked to quote for a leather job. This obviously didn’t sit well with me, given how I feel about the treatment of animals. I quoted them well above the market price, hoping they would overlook me. I was happy that I didn’t get this job, but also knew that I was probably better off turning down the opportunity altogether. This proved to be somewhat of a watershed moment in my life, where I knew my values were worth standing up for and I had the power to say no to those types of jobs.
I haven’t explicitly been put in this position again since. When I am photographing fashion I have to always tell the stylists I don’t shoot fur, which has not been a problem for them. A few years ago I was thrilled to shoot an anti-fur PETA campaign, which helped set this expectation with my work.
You seem to be working with some very interesting clients, what makes a good client to you?
A good client for me is easy going, open to new ideas, believes in animal welfare and inclusion. I am so lucky to have worked with great companies such as PETA, Sea Shepherd and Animal Liberation. These companies have let me be creative and enabled my photography to grow and flourish. As I mentioned what you put out there is what you get. I want to work with clients who are making a positive change, are vegan-friendly, and open to creative suggestions.
What’s the thing best about running your business?
The flexibility and freedom to take control and make the decisions on where my career is now and where it goes next. It is really hard work, but ultimately hugely rewarding. Running a business, much like life, is full of ups and downs, but so long as you can learn and grow from mistakes, it prepares you for what is down the road.
Otherwise, there are some things I have always found great about working for yourself. I can set my own hours. I can decide which jobs to accept. Working for myself has its own challenges but I won’t do anything else. I just love it and I’m so grateful to still be doing this line of profession.
What challenges do you face?
Photography has become a very saturated market. Technology has made photography much more accessible, especially as almost every phone has a camera attached to it and the likes of Facebook and Instagram now make it a daily habit for people to take photos. You rewind ten or fifteen years ago, and this was not the case. Nowadays everyone thinks they are a photographer who can take reasonably good photos without much effort and zero training. This pervasive thought process has had flow-on effects to the industry affecting price points which are dropping to unsustainable levels. The quality can only suffer.
The challenge is now having a point of difference in your work, a unique value offering which is difficult to replicate – this take years to build by working with several clients, pushing the boundaries in different ways using exciting new mediums. It is difficult to compete in a market prepared to undercut itself so dramatically, not considerate of the long-term effects of doing so. So the challenge is being able to create a brand and a quality of work that people attribute value to what it is worth. But I love the challenge. It keeps me going and it also gives me a platform to express how I feel about being vegan and to inspire others.
What is it about Chrissie Hall that makes you stand out from the crowd?
I am obsessed with colour. If you ever happen to walk down to Coogee and I am about, you will no doubt notice me! For me, everything has to be colourful. I love pushing my ideas. I love having a positive fun message to my images. My photography is really just an extension to who I am as a person.
Where are you headed in business; where would you like to be 3 or 5 years time?
Currently I’m working on a documentary about veganism in Australia. I’m also working on an exhibition called “Behind the Bark” which will be epic so stay tuned.
I would love to be touring my documentary and photographic show around the world. There is so much opportunity out there, I’m just so excited to be part of an amazing positive vegan movement.
Anything else you would like to add?
Failures are learnings that build resilience which will help you later in life. You cannot have success without failure! Don’t ever give up and don’t ever give in. If you believe in yourself you are 90% heading towards your dream.