5 Career-Defining Photos: Oliver Fly

In every photographer's career, there are defining moments. The moments that inspire an evolution in their art. The moments that open new opportunities for their business. The moments that remind them of where they have been and where they are going.

In this blog series, Richard asks film photographers to share the stories behind five frames throughout their career that most embody these instances. Today, photographer Oliver Fly explores the importance of vendor relationships, repurposing your work, and naturally crafting stories filled with emotion...

Elegance at the Olive Tree, Balearic Islands, 2016

When I look back at this image from my first styled shoot, I’m reminded how my career in film photography has required a tremendous amount of hard work and a willingness to take risks. While I had been shooting digital since 2011, it wasn’t until I bought my first Contax 645 on eBay in 2015 that I officially entered the world of film. Earlier that year, I’d attended both Sylvie Gil and Kayla Barker’s photography workshops, which left me inspired to implement everything I’d learned. I knew it was time to organize my first styled shoot, and as an avid world traveler, I wanted it to happen abroad on the Balearic Islands of Ibiza. I was still very much a newcomer to the wedding industry, but I managed to convince a few wonderful French vendors to join me for the shoot and to share in my vision. The giant olive tree captured in this image was actually set in a private garden, and getting permission from the owner took a bit of persuading. However, the hard work paid off as the sun set, giving us beautiful backlight to work with, despite the cold and windy weather. Through this first styled shoot and this image in particular, I learned that vendor relationships are the key to success and that sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone can indeed pay off.

A Poppy in the Desert, Joshua Tree, 2016

I love this portrait because it represents my approach to capturing emotion through my artistic work. As a photographer, I don't feel inspired by a lack of expression, but instead, I’m always looking for those genuine moments of joy to capture for my clients. This particular image came from the second styled shoot I organized during a trip to California with my industry friend and inspiration, Greg Finck. We were there to attend my first WPPI conference, and I also wanted to take this opportunity to plan a shoot but didn’t have a stylist to work with. Luckily, I met Elisa Bricker at WPPI who connected me with the incredible Kelly Oshiro, who helped design a beautiful shoot in the Joshua Tree desert. Not only did this styled shoot result in some of my favorite images to date, but it gave me a chance to work with Richard Photo Lab. I gave them the rolls from this shoot and loved their scans so much that I decided to send them all my future work, which has become one of the best business decisions I’ve made!

*Paris for Two, Paris, 2016**

I’ve been living in Paris since I was 19 years old, but it wasn’t until I became a photographer that I really began to embrace the beauty of my own city. Photography opened my eyes to the world around me, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to experience my surroundings with a new perspective. This image will always be dear to my heart because it was captured during one of my first Parisian portrait sessions. As we were shooting, I happened to notice one particular park bench that wasn’t fixed to the ground and decided to move it on the grass. I followed my instincts as a photographer, and the result was an image that’s become an expression of my brand. To me, this image represents how I strive to tell the story of my client’s love in a unique and authentic way. I’m honored to know it still hangs in the couple’s home today, and will also be a part of my upcoming print shop collection.

Lavender Fields at Sunset, Provence, 2017

In recent years, Provence has become like a second home to me and is my favorite location to photograph in all of France. There’s just something so special about the light, especially at dusk when the sun quietly sets over the beautiful rolling hills. My clients and I drove around for nearly two hours to find the perfect location amongst the lavender fields for this shoot, and needless to say, we finally found exactly that. The color, texture, and lighting of this image all work together to express exactly why I love this region so much. I’ll be traveling to Provence regularly again in summer of 2019, and can’t wait to continue shooting in this location that’s helped define my career.

Garden Affair on Lake Como, Italy, 2018

I had spent three years working to establish myself in the luxury destination market when I booked this wedding in Lake Como, Italy. Fully aware that I was still a relative newcomer to this market, I was thrilled for the opportunity but also knew the pressure was on. I was incredibly fortunate to work alongside one of the best wedding planners in the world who made the entire event a dream to shoot from beginning to end. Before the wedding day, I always make a point to scout the venue for inspiration, and I immediately asked for access to the balcony so I could capture this beautiful overview of the ceremony with Lake Como in the background. That day I shot my highest number of film rolls to date, but this image will always be my very favorite.