This week we interviewed Holly, a Washington native, outdoors enthusiast, and a lover of the mountains. Better known as @missholldoll on Instagram, Holly inspires over 213K of her followers with beautifully crafted pictures from her hiking, backpacking, and camping adventures in the mountains. Here is a behind the scenes interview with Holly, how she got started with her love for the outdoors, and her tips on social media.
How did you get into hiking and camping?
I went backpacking a handful of times as a child with my family, but that wasn’t necessarily when I would say I got “into” hiking and backpacking. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I decided I wanted to begin hiking, and that stemmed from a breakup and the revelation that I could do something on my own. I didn’t have any outdoorsy friends and I was now without a boyfriend to show me the ropes, so I had to do it by myself. I set out on local “popular” day hikes at first, then branching out farther and farther away from home. I spent the first two years just day hiking, but slowly began accumulating gear for overnight trips.
Do you typically go hiking solo or with other people?
I’d say it’s about 50/50. I began hiking alone, so it’s something I’m able to do and I find it to be therapeutic and enjoyable, but I also love sharing the experience with friends and family, and spending quality time together. Spending a day or a weekend in the mountains with someone is excellent quality time.
You have new material on your Instagram page almost every day. How often do you get outdoors?
I work a full time job during the week, so I just try to utilize the weekends and my vacation days to the best of my ability. More so in the warmer months. I usually take a ton of pictures while I’m out, I always have, but in terms of Instagram, it’s helpful having a backlog of images to pull from throughout the year.
Based on your photos, you always seem to go off the beaten path and find hidden gems. How do you find all these amazing places you visit?
I wouldn’t say I’m off the beaten path at all, I just usually opt from hitting the traditionally popular spots. I try to get into the wilderness to escape from the city, so the last thing I want to do is go hiking with a parade of people.
Do you mind sharing what camera gear you use to take your Instagram photos?
Right now I’m using the Sony A7ii. I usually bring two different lenses with me, but find myself using my wide angle the most.
Your Instagram account is very consistent featuring mostly outdoors hiking and camping pictures in the mountains. Do you think that’s the key to building a successful Instagram account?
Not at all. I think I’m successful in the category that I’m in, but my account doesn’t appeal to everybody. Even in the realm of outdoor/lifestyle photography, there are many different ways to go about it. Some accounts look a bit more crafted and dream-like, others are a bit more gritty and “real” looking. Some are more focused on the person, some more traditional photography accounts. I think just think it’s important to find a theme and stick to it. Whether that’s hiking, landscapes, fashion, food, etc.
Besides hiking and camping, you also have a full-time job. How do you make time for everything?
I make sacrifices and I’m selfish with my time. I have family in the area, but they know now that come summer, I will be busy pursuing my passion on the weekends. I spend my days at work, and my evenings decompressing, editing photos and planning out Instagram posts, and then of course trying to get into the mountains on the weekends. I know where I would rather be, so when random things like BBQ’s and parties pop up on the weekends, it’s almost a given that I’ll take a pass. The flip side is, I’m more apt to say no to my mountain buddies on the weekends in the colder months in order to make time for my family.
Do you see outdoors travel photography as something you might ever do full time?
No. I’ve been lucky and received some great opportunities for travel and I’ve essentially turned my hiking into a part-time job… but that’s enough. When you travel for a company, you’re usually go go go and you’re always concerned about getting shots. It’s not necessarily a vacation. When I’m out hiking and I have to get photos for a client, it adds an element of stress that I don’t necessarily love bringing with me while I’m out there. That’s supposed to be my “me time.” If I were to turn the whole thing in to my full time job, I might lose my love and passion for it all… and that’s not worth the risk.
You’ve had some big name sponsors over the years. For the people that are trying to follow in your footsteps, what are some key things to getting your first sponsor on Instagram?
The first thing is, have your email address in your profile. Make it easy for a company to contact you. Have a theme, and use brand tags and hashtags to get seen by companies you’d want to work with. Don’t work with every company that contacts you, be selective and only work with companies that align with your theme and value what you’ve created and your time. And if you don’t like the companies that are reaching out to you, turn the tables and reach out to companies you WOULD want to work.
What is next for Holly?
What’s next? Just to get through fall and winter, spend time with my family, while still getting out in the mountains when I can. As far as trips, I’ll be in Yosemite over the Thanksgiving weekend and then Belize in January. I’m already looking forward to those warmer temps and sunshine!
For more on Holly you can follow Holly and her outdoors adventures at @missholldoll.