Behind the lens

Hollie Fernando: We Can Dream



Where are you based?


How do you make a living?

Taking photos.

What camera do you use?

At the moment, weapons of choice are Canon AE1 & Bronica ETRSi.

How has travel made an impact on your life?

Travelling has made me fall in love with my life at home. During my first trip, I experienced a whole new level of emotions that I had never tapped into before, so when I came home to my usual routine with nothing to stimulate me in the same way, I resented everything here so much and couldn’t wait to run away again. After a while though, I had a huge wake up call and realised I should enjoy my life everywhere as much as I do on the road. At the end of the day I am very fucking lucky to have the life I do and to have had the opportunity to experience something to deeply realise this rather than blindly taking it for granted. Whether that’s in rainy grey London or on a tiny island living in a bamboo hut, I shouldn’t be reliant on my location to give me these feelings. I made some changes to my outlook on life and have found massive amounts of happiness and fulfilment from within.

What is your relationship to travel/adventure, and what does it mean to you?

I see travelling for pleasure as a reward for working hard back at home. I need to feel like I have achieved enough to deserve a break to just run free for a few months, otherwise the guilt of slacking will ruin it all for me. To be on the road for work is so different as you can never fully get lost and you always have the itinerary that someone else has made for you, which for me isn’t the real deal (even though I am so super grateful for every opportunity to work somewhere new).

In my opinion though, properly travelling and adventuring means waking up each day and making plans based on what you fancy doing and where you feel like going as that is so different from the working life I live when I’m in London.

I also believe travelling is the best form of education. You can get very isolated in the bubble you call your life and just getting out there and experiencing how others live theirs makes you very aware of the lovely diversity in the world.

A few summers back I was flown out to Croatia to shoot a music festival by the sea. It was a blur of a week and I was pretty much drunk the whole time so I could deal with covering artists on 4 different boat parties a day. This was a mistaken double exposure shot of some pretty flowers that obviously caught my attention and a drunk lad following my orders to dive in. He dove like a frog and got a sea urchin stuck in his foot whilst climbing out. Thanks dude.

I dragged his arse out of bed at 4.30am so we would be in the field behind the graveyard down his road at sunrise to film an acoustic live video for his new song. It ended up being the mistiest morning I had ever encountered, but that may be that I am never usually hanging out in fields by the sea at that time of morning in the winter months. I had to call it a wrap after 4 takes and a high probability of frostbite in my fingers and toes, and made him run around with his top off so I could finish a roll.

My assistant Sam and I were recceing this location (which is a 531ft cliff on the South coast of Britain) for a shoot I had the next day before we lost the light. I was scaring him shitless by shimmying on my stomach to look over the edge and take some shots and he held onto my back belt hook while yelling at me. I spotted all these birds so far below us that they looked like tiny white bugs on the floor and pointed these out to him and he started to calm it and look over the edge too. We were watching in awe for ages as they made those crazy cool pulsating shapes by flying all together at once and then I realised they had started to fly towards and up the side of the cliff at exactly the spot we were fucking peering over. I screamed at Sam to stand up at the edge and legged it back a bit to get the shot and 10 seconds later this cloud of gulls came up over the cliff-edge like a wave, darting and surrounding him while I was screaming, swearing and shooting at the same time. This photo was one of the ones I took after I had calmed down and caught Sam unawares, walking back to the few birds that were still flying around after the main show. It was all over in about 20 seconds and think it was the most perfect right-time-right-place moment I have ever experienced.

We bought tickets for the last train too late so they had run out of sleeper beds, but we were so excited to swap Bangkok with it’s smog and ladyboys for the jungle that we took the last seats in 3rd class without hesitation. Once the train had gained a bit of speed, bringing bugs and cold wind through the massive open windows and straight into our faces, we found there was actually no comfortable position in our hard upright seats and realised our mistake – knowing the next 12 hours was gonna be a long one.

It’s hilarious looking back, I ended up putting on every layer of clothing I had in my backpack and had to cross a lot of friendship boundaries very fast with my brand new German friend to snuggle up with her for warmth, sharing our only bag of Doritos we managed to bring. The hardest part was holding onto my piss for as long as I could so I didn’t have to face the hole-to-track loo full of colourful spiders (numerous Chang’s at a street stall outside the station wasn’t such a great idea after all). But as the sun rose at 5am, when we were speeding through rolling hills of jungle and everyone else was tucked away in their silly little beds, we were the ones hanging off railings and taking photos in between carriages having the best moment of our lives to date.

After 12 hours of trying to sleep upright with cold wind and bugs flying in your face and holding in your piss so you don’t have to deal with the situation of squatting over the hole leading straight to the tracks in a tiny space full of colourful eight-legged creatures; experiencing sunrise over the jungle from in between carriages of a speeding train makes it all ok actually.

I escaped to the coast for a few nights with my sister and convinced her climb this crazy large rock out in the ocean. She was starkers and had to climb up to the top using little foot holes cut into the rock, and once we’d got the shot (which was recently exhibited at this show in London) we realised we had a shocked little audience of OAP dog walkers back on the shore. Things you do for love.

Every summer I go to Spain with my family, and this was from a few years back on a super nice beach we went to for the day. I was trying to get my sister to do a handstand for a shot but after a good long while waiting for her to nail it I gave up (she can’t even do them on solid ground let alone in waves) and we opted for an armstand instead.