M E E T
Interview by Sophie Cottrell / Photos by Lina Hayes
Photographer, traveller, dreamer and contributor to our Sydney volume, Lina Hayes, sits down with us to share in the highs, lows and challenges of being a photographer. She also shares her favorite parts of her city. Get cozy folks!
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do with yourself?
Thanks for chatting with me Sophie! I’m a wedding, lifestyle and travel photographer based in Sydney. I love road trips, exploring, home-cooked food and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. I’m so grateful to be able to document amazing moments in people’s lives and inspire others to explore and appreciate this beautiful world of ours.
How would your best friend describe you, do you think?
I think my close friends would describe me as a happy, passionate and adventurous human. I’m not a materialistic person - I much prefer spending time with people I love and enjoying the experiences life has to offer.
What was your journey to where you are now?
As a child, I was always encouraged to roam freely and explore my surroundings. We would often enjoy road trips out to the country, and every year we made the journey North from Sydney to the small coastal town of Yamba. While my Dad spent most of his days fishing, I would entertain myself exploring the beaches and nature, riding my bike, playing and using my imagination. I’m very grateful to have had such an organic childhood and upbringing.
After finishing a degree in exercise and sport science, I quickly realised that this wasn’t the path I was made to follow. While I had always done photography as a hobby, it was a few months after graduating from my degree that I was in a serious car accident, and this instantly made me realise that life was too short and too precious not to chase after those big ideas in the back of my mind. I’ve been running my photography business for 3 years now and I’m so glad that I am able to look back on what was a traumatic moment and see it as the catalyst for such a positive change in my life.
Would you change anything along the way? And what advice would you give to someone who is looking at taking a risk and just starting out on their creative journey?
It may sound clichéd, but I believe that everything that has happened in my life so far has helped me arrive to where I am today. My advice would be to spend less time look at the work of others, and invest more time in developing your own work and style. Create work that is aligned with your values and what is important to you – this means not always saying yes to every job or offer that comes your way. And lastly, remember that creativity is not a competition, don’t spent too much time comparing yourself to others.
How did you find your voice in the industry and what is the biggest challenge with this?
This is something that took me some time to find, both in wedding and travel photography, which are equally heavily saturated markets. It’s easy to look at other photographers and what they are doing right now and wishing you could produce the same work. For me, I realised that staying genuine and authentic was incredibly important, and I found that in return for this I was attracting authentic followers and clients.
For weddings and lifestyle work, I’ve always been driven to document genuine moments without posing, and create work that reflects my client’s lives and personalities. For my travel work I love to share my journey and some of the hidden gems I find along the way. I think it can be challenging at times to avoid following trends, but going against what is popular is exactly what you need to do to set yourself apart from the crowd.
How do you stay motivated when you are the only one responsible for creating content? What motivates you?
Continually pushing myself to make new content that I am proud to share is often enough motivation for me in itself. However, the feedback I receive from clients after a wedding or shoot also pushes me to be better and continually refine my process and work. It’s an incredible feeling to create content for clients and know that they will cherish and value these moments for the rest of their lives.
Creating content that excites others to travel is also a huge motivation for me – I love exploring and sharing this excitement with others. One of the first trips that I ever I blogged was a holiday in New Zealand. Since documenting that trip, I’ve had numerous people, and some who had never been overseas before, tell me that they had booked a trip there after seeing my images. Hearing that sort of feedback after sharing my images puts a huge smile on my face. In the grand scheme of things, knowing that we have a limited time on this earth is a huge inspiration for me to live each day to the fullest and create content that motivates others to do the same.
Who/What inspires you creatively?
Travelling surf photographer Chris Burkard is a huge inspiration for me – at such a young age he’s already a veteran and has achieved what others can only dream of. The way he writes and shares his experiences of the highs and lows of travel, and his outlook on life never ceases to amaze and inspire me.
Travel in itself is a huge inspiration for me. There are just so many aspects of travel that stimulate my brain and fuel my creativity - the plane ride, food, people, landscapes, the wrong turns, the unexpected moments and even the quiet nights alone. I feel like my best stories and photos often come when I have nowhere to be, but everything to see. In contrast to that, finding beauty in the everyday and at home also reminds me of how beautiful daily life is as well. Any situation that evokes a feeling is a source of inspiration for me.
If you had to do something completely different to what you are doing now, what would you do?
I love cooking, designing and creating things from scratch with my hands, so perhaps something related to these things! I love interior design as well - I spend way too much time looking at homes and beautiful spaces on the internet!
At Sceen’ry we talk a lot about looking beyond your own backyard, finding places that take your breath away and remind you how blessed you are to live where you live. Tell us about where you live in Sydney and why you are based there?
At the moment my partner and I live in the Ku-ring-gai area, which is roughly an hour from Sydney CBD and about 25 minutes from the Northern Beaches. We love having the beautiful Australian bushland around us and being close to family. I also love the lifestyle and attitude of the community on the Northern Beaches and I hope to be a part of this in the future.
If someone had 24hrs in Sydney and the Northern Beaches and they asked you what to do, what are your MUST visits? Whether it be food, coffee, beaches, national parks etc. And what is it about them that makes them in your top list?
I would kick off the day watching the sunrise at Turimetta Beach, which is one of the most secluded beaches in the area. I love visiting the organic farmer’s markets in Frenchs Forest on a Sunday morning to grab a coffee and some quality produce. Bangalley Headland is a lovely and quiet spot for a picnic with a view. I would finish the day with a walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The walk is steep but the views back across the northern beaches and Pittwater can’t be topped.
What places are at the top of your travel list around the world?
My mum’s side of the family is Russian, and I have vivid memories of visiting the country as a child. I have this one particular memory of the beautiful summer country house that we stayed in. It was surrounded by a beautiful overgrown garden, we would drink a popular Russian juice made from berries and sit on the roof to soak up the sunshine. I would love to go back and relive these memories as an adult now. I also have an obsession with Scandinavian culture and design and it would be great to explore this part of the world more.
What are 5 things you would never travel without?
• My camera
• I’m a big believer in living a plastic free lifestyle and reducing our impact on the environment, so I always carry my Keepcup and water bottle with me when I travel.
• Homemade snacks for the journey – I like to maintain my intake of nourishing and quality food when I’m travelling and keep my energy up and avoid getting sick as well.
• Music – so good for relaxation, getting in the right mind-set and for getting my excitement levels up!
• Yoga mat – I’ve recently started bringing my travel sized yoga mat with me on trips. It’s ethically made, biodegradable and only weighs 1kg. It’s perfect for stretching, relaxation and getting some exercise in while I’m travelling.