Interview #53: Hannah Hayes


CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?

Hannah Hayes: My dad kept his Canon AE-1 in a large china cabinet in our dinning room. I was curious and asked him about it constantly, and when he thought I was old enough  (around 12) he let me start using it. He got all of the rolls developed for me at the pharmacy with 4x6 prints. I have boxes of envelops of these prints from that time. I've continued to make pictures since.


CUS: Tell us a little about where you live. How does your town/country affect your photography?

HH: I was born in Northeast Vermont, but currently live in Rochester NY. Vermont had a huge impact on me growing up, spending all of my time outdoors kindled my fascination for land unspoiled. Moving to Rochester NY to attend school deepened this appreciation. The urban sprawled landscape makes the search for unspoiled areas a bit more challenging.


CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

HH: Earl grey tea. 


CUS: Describe your average day. 

HH: Currently, no day is average. I get up in the morning and try to figure out ways to put myself in new situations where I can make pictures. Each day is a different opportunity.


CUS: Did you study, or are you studying, photography? If not, how did you learn?

HH: I have a recently received a BFA in Photographic Illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology.  


CUS: What are five things you can’t live without?

HH: 1. my cat

2. my camera

3. my family of friends

4. fictional short stories

5. a quiet place to go outdoors


CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true?

HH: Yes everyone can be. But I don't think everyone is. Photography takes more than the snap of the picture. Digital photography enables people to not take the process past that.


CUS: If every photograph should contain one key element, what would it be in your opinion?

HH: Intention.


CUS: What is your fondest childhood memory?

HH: Exploring the woods, fields, and swimming holes in Vermont with my friends and family.


CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?

HH: Some of my biggest influences have been my professors at RIT Greg HalpernAhndraya Parlato, and Oscar Palacio.  Their own work, along with the countless number of other photographers they have exposed me to during my time at RIT, have greatly influenced my work and process.  However, I feel very strongly that it is important to gain inspiration through as many other mediums as possible. Fictional stories, music, poetry all have been very influential to me.  


CUS: Do you think that the Internet is a legitimate place to showcase photographic work? 

HH: Yes of course. However, clean and clear presentation and design still need to be taken into account. I do not think the internet has yet (or maybe will ever) be able to exceed the experience of looking at photographic work in a gallery or in a book.


CUS: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

HH: Living with my boyfriend and cat. Making pictures and attempting to have as many new experiences as possible. 


CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?

HH: Bring your camera with you everywhere you go. Keep it on you constantly. Photograph as much as possible, and then some. No opportunity is worth missing, and every experience is worth archiving. 


CUS: What do you hope to achieve with your photography? Do you foresee photography as a career in your future?

HH: Photography allows me to navigate and thus interrupt the world while archiving my experiences and emotions. 


CUS Our last interviewee, Brian Oldham, wants to know: What is your dream location?

HH: Iceland.


CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask the next interviewee?

HH: What is one experience you wish you had photographed but did not?

Hannah Hayes, b. 1990 from Rochester, NY 


Images provided by Hannah Hayes. All rights reserved.