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We were founded by strong women with cameras slung around their necks — dreamers and doers with stories to tell. And while our office might look a little different these days, it's still the incredible women on our team who push us forward and pave the way. So as we approach International Women's Day, we're taking pause to honor their contributions, share their stories, and take a look behind the lens — starting with our Lead Photographer, Molly Olwig.
Self-taught and astoundingly talented, she has this amazing way of reminding us that every photo (and human!) is perfect in its imperfections. Here we sit down with Molly to chat about her journey to becoming a photographer, her passion projects, and the joy she finds in putting it all in print.
Anyone who takes a photo is a photographer. If you have a camera and you use it, you are a photographer.
You went to college for English — how did you end up becoming a photographer?
I attended university in New Orleans, and on the first day after my parents left freshman year, I met my day-one best friend who ran a local music news website. Long story short, I lied and told him I was a photographer (having just been gifted a DSLR that I didn’t yet know how to use from my grandma).
I do say “lied” loosely — I had always taken photos, borrowing my parents’ old Blackberrys, snapping photos on my iPod touch, and eventually figuring out my mom’s DSLRs. I just hadn’t quite believed myself to be a photographer until later. After I scrambled to learn manual, the rest spiraled into photographing concerts, album covers, and eventually, portraits, fashion, and product. I taught myself, learning as much as I could from YouTube, mentors, and experience.
It wasn't until later that I understood anyone who takes a photo is a photographer. If you have a camera and you use it, you are a photographer.
Are there any other women who had an influence on your journey?
My mom studied photography when she was younger, and I always played around with her old cameras. She definitely planted the seed in allowing me to run around with her gear. My grandma was another key player: she gifted my first full-frame camera when my little business was starting to take off.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I’d say my work is a blend of portraiture and editorial with a spice of fine art.
I look for the images that capture the mood, the idea, the emotion of the experience.
Is there a message that you try to communicate through your images?
Getting to really know whoever and whatever I am photographing is absolutely essential to my style, how I shoot, and the end result. It’s that exchange of genuine energy and movement that brings life into my images, and I think that integral message of humanity and the beauty that surrounds this journey on earth is what I *attempt* to communicate.
It’s that exchange of genuine energy and movement that brings life into my images.
What sparks you to pull out your camera or phone?
I tend to pull out my camera when the subject matter itself makes me go “oh!” I look at how light paints the world around me, and I snap a pic. I work to stay mindful of the memories I want to hold on to: whether it’s this tree I pass on my Sunday walks, or my cat chewing on my pilea (though I hate when he does that), or my fiance learning to in-line skate.
Do you make many images when you don't have your camera on hand?
I don’t often have my 'professional' camera on me unless I have a dedicated photoshoot. I typically travel alone and avoid having this big ol’ thing in my hand, so most day-to-day images I capture on my phone. And it’s usually those candid iPhone photos that I print. I have over 200 square prints (and counting) of all of the memories I hold in my heart and now in my hands.
How do you decide which of your images to put in print?
I aim to print whatever captures the essence of the given time. That is by no means the most perfect, technically-sound, beautifully-exposed images. I look for the images that capture the mood, the idea, the emotion of the experience. I want what I print to be archival, to tell stories for people who have never met me. And those who have know I’m not perfect, so my photos I print don't have to be either.
Is there something that changes about an image when you print it?
Printing makes it real. I’m one to have literally 10,000+ images on my phone. As soon as it’s printed, it starts to breathe.
I want what I print to be archival, to tell stories for people who have never met me.
What's your favorite photo project you've created?
I have an ongoing project photographing people in red gloves. They’re some of my favorite images because each muse has a different story, different styling, and different aesthetic. I don’t know when I’ll close that chapter, but I’m aiming to print all of the portraits in a dedicated book.
Any advice you'd share with young, aspiring photographers?
Your best teacher is experience. Grab a friend, go explore, connect with people around you, and take the damn photo! When we’re young, we tend to think everyone’s eyes are on us as we navigate new bodies, new phases of life, new people. Eventually, as we get older, we understand no one cares about us in the same way that we feel small when we stand on a mountain. There’s a release in that, a freedom to explore and be. Let that freedom permeate your life and your photography.
Are you willing to share a project with us?
I’d be happy to. I just recently compiled my favorite images and stories I created in the past couple of years, threw ‘em all in a portfolio, and printed it in a Layflat Photo Album. With COVID limiting the creative teams I’ve been able to connect with, the time I spent diving into my archive was really surreal, humbling, and refreshing. I’ve now got this printed legacy of some of my really formative years as a photographer, something I can look back on, refer to, and eventually, laugh. I’ve grown up in the digital age and to know I have this ability to hold so much time, effort, and heart in my hands is something that can't be overstated.
Your best teacher is experience. Grab a friend, go explore, connect with people around you, and take the damn photo!