Emma Hoareau, photographer and creator of lolitasaysso.com, chats to Natalie Hughes about her life as a digital creative.
My friendship with Emma Hoareau started as the best modern friendships do - online. We were both bloggers and navigating the then-scarcely trodden digital landscape. Emma’s blog, Lolita Says So (which takes its name from the iconic Vladimir Nabokov novel), was different in its visual approach. In 2010, the rest of us were posting rudimentary outfit snaps taken on our point-and-shoots by our parents or boyfriend, while Emma was uploading thoughtful photographs of her life in London, favourite new beauty finds and images captured backstage at fashion week. You could say Emma was one of the pioneers of well-shot blog photography.
These days, the Parisian-born, London-based multi-hyphenate spends her days creating content for a living, shooting for some of the world’s most iconic beauty and skincare brands (including Nars, La Mer and L’Oréal, amongst others), and for her own blog or Instagram feed, where 32.5k people (and counting) follow her for her expert skincare insights and beautiful photographs. Plus, we’ve been lucky enough to work with her at The Fashion Digital on some incredible client projects.
This is a woman who’s made a career out of online content, which is why I couldn’t wait to quiz her on her digital habits and can’t-live-without apps. Read on to find out more about Emma’s digital life.
NH: Hi Emma, let’s start with a brief career history; how did you come to be doing what you’re doing?
EH: I started writing for magazines when I was studying at University. I mainly focused on fashion and photography and ended up covering shows at fashion week for a couple of magazines. I started my blog in 2010 at uni too, but never thought it would be anything but a passion project and portfolio of sorts. When I graduated I was asked to set up the beauty section at Notion magazine. I worked there for two years before moving to Sydney where I worked on the beauty team at RUSSH for six months, before deciding that I wanted to focus on photography. Working freelance as a photographer gave me more time to focus on the blog, and I’ve now been working on both full-time for just under two years.
NH: Did you always think you’d be working in digital?
EH: I always knew I wanted to work for a media outlet, but when I was younger it was all about the magazines. I was totally that girl that had every copy of Vogue and stated that one day she would be the editor-in-chief! As I started actually working for magazines I would write for both print and online, and digital was where I flourished. I love the immediateness of it all – I realised the fast pace was for me.
NH: What came first - blogging or photography?
EH: I always loved photography growing up, but worked as a journalist before making the jump into professional photography. So blogging came first in that sense, but I worked on it for four years before ever making money from it.
NH: You lived in Sydney for a while. Do you think a digital career enables you to have a nomadic life?
EH: Absolutely. That’s what I love most about it. If I have an internet connection I can technically work from wherever I am. Yes, there are the meetings and on-location shoots, but if those are planned in advance I can be very nomadic indeed. That flexibility is what drew me to working as a freelance digital creative.
NH: How has your blog evolved since its conception?
EH: Oh yes! When I started it was as a creative outlet to my studies. I posted all the inspirational photos I found online (this was before Pinterest, guys). Then as I grew more confident I started posting some of my own imagery… and it all went from there.
NH: What is your earliest social media memory?
EH: I decidedly didn’t want to have a Twitter account but a publication I was freelancing for said we had to have Twitter and share all our articles there, so I reluctantly signed up.
NH: What was your first email address?
EH: Wall_flower44@hotmail.com Yep, nothing like a Hotmail account with an underscore thrown in.
NH: Do you ever shoot with your iPhone? If so, what are your tips?
EH: I do, yes. As much as I love sharing imagery I’ve shot on my camera, there’s something very real about sharing iPhone photos, like a sort of ‘behind the scenes’ which my audience love. My tips for iPhones are making sure you’ve got your angles right (and straight!), good light and don’t over-complicate the photo. It’s a snapshot, not a photo shoot.
NH: What is your favourite social media platform?
EH: Instagram. Although I’m against some of the recent algorithm changes, I love that it’s such a visual platform. I’ve always been obsessed with imagery and I love finding new accounts to follow and be inspired by. It’s got a great community feel, too.
NH: And least favourite?
EH: I don’t think I have one, I even still use my Tumblr!
NH: What apps are on the first page of your phone?
EH: Afterlight where I edit my photos, Spotify, Eurostar and my Canon Connect app so I can shoot my self-portraits.
NH: What digital tools could you not live without?
EH: Camera Connect! It hooks my phone to my camera via wifi so that I can use my phone to control my camera, it also means I can download images directly from my camera to phone (great for a last minute project!). I [recently] shared a personal project of self-portraits I had been shooting all year and had such a great response. It was a great feeling to know my images and words resonated with so many people.
NH: What podcasts are you loving right now?
EH: I love The High Low for keeping me up to date on news and opinions - from reality TV to politics - and Desert Island Discs is always a really interesting way to hear more about creatives.
NH: Do you make time for being offline?
EH: I try to, yes. I make sure I don’t pick up my phone first thing in the morning. I keep it on airplane mode overnight so it doesn’t distract me from sleep either. But I have to admit I’m a big online addict and find it hard. One of my resolutions for this year is to spend more time reading books and finding inspiration IRL so I don’t have to be glued to a screen all day. But when you’ve made your career online… it can be tricky.
NH: Have you discovered any brands on social media? If so, which?
EH: Rouje is a great one – and its founder Jeanne Damas is the epitome of Parisian chic. I love the luggage brand Away who have great social media and great packing and travel tips. I also recently discovered beauty brand Tatcha and have now become addicted to their Japanese inspired skincare!
Follow Emma at lolitasayso.com, on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, and shop her prints here.
Interview by Natalie Hughes; Illustration by Art Star Creative; Photograph by Emma Hoareau