I was lucky enough to sit down with badass NYC photographer Liv Hoffman, who photographs city life and her female friends in vivid, intimate portraits. We talk artistic doubt, breaking rules, and using the city as inspiration. Read below for our interview and more images of her incredible new work.
Lily Myers: When did you start taking pictures?
Liv Hoffman: I started taking photographs in middle school on my flip phone. It was a really old flip phone but the photos were pretty cool. I noticed new graffiti popping up in my neighborhood and I wanted to document it and share it with my friends at school. When I showed my parents the photos they were impressed. Soon after, I saved up enough money to buy my own DSLR. I would say I got really serious about photography in high school because of the different programs outside of school I attended, which propelled my art forward. I really owe a lot to those photo programs because they really helped me evolve as a photographer and overall artist.
LM: When did you know that you wanted to seriously pursue photography? Was this difficult? Did you experience doubt in deciding to be an artist?
LH: I think every artist has doubts about their artistic ability at some point in their career. I think that's natural. It’s what comes with being an artist. I would say that it was extremely difficult to find myself and I had a lot of self doubt.
My freshman year of high school I had a Tumblr account with all my photography on it. Somehow many people found out about it and I started getting really hateful comments about my photography on my site. I was really confused why I was getting such negative feedback from my peers. I ended up deleting the account because I didn’t want to give people the platform to make me doubt myself. It really got to me and definitely made me question who I was as an artist. I would say that was when I doubted myself the most.
LM: A lot of your work is strongly NYC-flavored. How does living in New York inspire you?
LH: New York inspires me every day for different reasons. I love that in NYC every environment is different. You can walk on one block and it will be a completely different vibe than the next block. I really value that. Because as a photographer, you don't want everything to look the same. I love living downtown and knowing that I can walk to one block that is covered in graffiti, and then the next block will be completely clean. I am inspired by Noho because the most prolific graffiti writers have tagged my street and I get to walk out of my house and see all of it change on a daily basis.
I think the most inspiring part of New York City is the talented people that I am surrounded by. Almost all my friends are artists. There is nothing more inspiring than working with a close friend on a collaboration or a project that you both feel connected to. Just the other day I collaborated on a video project with my good friend Lily Ives, and it was rad to see the project finished and edited, because you could see both of our styles combined into the video. For me, that is when art is the most rewarding and gives me the most satisfaction. I love that my friends inspire me every day to take new artistic risks & challenge me to be a better artist.
LM: What do you love about photography as an artistic medium?
LH: I love that photography lets you capture a moment that would be gone forever. I think there is something special about how instant it is. Photographs create a new dimension; they allow time to stop.
LM: What is your advice to young people who want to become photographers?
LH: Don’t follow rules. Don’t let anyone put you into a box. Explore as much as possible. Take risks and think of crazy ideas that no one has ever done before. Originality is really cool and I think to have your own distinct style is important. Always remember that it is really cool to be different and bold and do things that other people wouldn't expect.