ELK TALES X MARNIE HAWSON
A close friend of ELK’s for many years, Victorian-based photographer Marnie Hawson continues to be one of our favourite creatives to work with.In 2018, four years into her photography career, Marnie decided to be 'a photographer for people doing good things’. This philosophy of selecting to work only with people who share her strong environmental and sustainable values, sees her capturing the most beautiful and poignant images across fashion, art, interior design and nature.
In her time between shoots, Marnie’s passion project ‘Prints for Wildlife’, has seen her travelling to wildlife sanctuaries across Australia. At each sanctuary, she takes a portrait of one animal in care to create a fine art print. A 100% of the profits from each sale is then donated directly back to the wildlife sanctuary to support the incredible work of the carers.
We caught up with Marnie to learn more about this inspiring project:
Hi Marnie! Tell us a little bit about yourself and the philosophy of ‘A photographer for people doing good things’.
As a former environmental scientist, I'm hardwired to tread lightly in everything I do. Today, that means I only work with businesses who have an ethical and sustainable mindset, and a focus on conscious consumerism and fair trade. I made this switch to a purpose-driven model after four years working full-time as a photographer, in 2018. I realised that I only wanted to work with people who have a strong commitment to the environmental and social impact of their businesses, and who constantly seek to improve their world.
Any stories from one of our shoots that you look back on fondly?
I love them all, the ELK team is such a beautiful family - but we seem to hit extremes of weather for our campaign shoots. We've had torrential rain in Sydney, freezing cold wind and sleet in Tasmania, and crazy heat and bushfire smoke in Byron Bay. But there's always so many helpful hands holding umbrellas for me, and moving my laptop stand around everywhere (I really need to start bringing my own assistant!).
How did you enter into the field of photography? What do you love about it?
I'm still not sure how I made the switch from scientist to photographer - I was never even really a hobbyist photographer, but I reached a point where I wanted to work for myself in some way. I approached it like a true scientist - writing a business plan and creating spreadsheets of what I needed to do to make the pivot and start getting clients. I love the ability to work with clients who share my values, and the freedom to work anywhere and whenever I want.
Not many people may know this, but you have a background in environmental science. Tell us a little bit about this and how it has informed your life as a photographer.
I worked as an environmental scientist for almost 10 years, straight out of university. I have an environmental science degree and an Honours degree in Zoology from the University of Melbourne in sexually transmitted diseases in birds. I've never really used this knowledge from my honours degree in a technical sense, but it helped form a scientific way of thinking. I still think of myself as a scientist, not a creative - and I think one of the good things to come out of my former career is my love for business, organisation and efficiency. I'm one rare freelancer who could talk all night about spreadsheets, accounting systems and job management - I love it!
Do you have a favourite story from your travels with Prints for Wildlife?
My second shoot I went to photograph a little 'cloud' of flying foxes (a group of flying foxes is called a colony, or a cloud - love it), and ended up with an affectionate 20kg wombat having a little sleep on my lap! I also learnt that flying foxes are nicknamed sky puppies because they resemble puppy dogs, and it makes me love them even more.
What does being at home right now, entail for you?
Looking out for family (from a distance), connecting with neighbours, swapping baked goods with friends, planning mini renovations and landscaping, thinking about doing yoga but then not doing it, cleaning the oven, sorting my wardrobe, and drinking more whisky cocktails than I should.
Are there any skills you are working on, or crafts you are going back to?
I'm not really going back to crafts, but I finally have time to work ON my business rather than just in it. I've used the time to assess my business to become carbon neutral, next up I have to start my B-Corp Assessment, which I've been putting off for ages. I've also been teaching myself various photo editing things I've been meaning to do and now don't have an excuse to not get stuck into it.
What cosy comforts are making the time pass? Books you are reading, podcasts you are listening to?
I'm slowly reading Seth Godin's This is Marketing, and I love the Futurecrunch weekly newsletter so much - it focuses on good news around the world. Podcasts I love are Planet Money, This American Life, The Journal, Science Vs, The Indicator, One Wild Ride, Without Fail, The Pitch, Humans of Purpose, The Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Podcast, Wardrobe Crisis, Ladies We Need to Talk, BAAM and Unparalled.
What are you wearing at home?
Lot of comfy, cosy things - linen overalls, the beautiful Jelica sweater and handknitted wool slippers. I love linen and wool, and these days only ever replace something in my wardrobe with something that is made ethically, sustainably and has a transparent supply chain.