We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayley Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayley, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Hello, thank you for taking the time to interview me today. About my background, I am originally from a small town called Algonac in South-Eastern Michigan. I grew up on a lake right across from Canada my entire life.. and with that came an abundance of cold, rainy, and snowy weather! I was about 30 minutes from the closest highway, so as you can imagine it was a very inactive and isolated town from most restaurants, businesses, or any activities. My parents divorced at a very young age and I was switched back and forth from houses a lot. Finding it hard to spend much time with friends on the weekends, I felt alone, especially being an only child. I wanted an easy way to connect with my friends and the rest of the community when I was in school. That’s when I found social media and friends that I would contact daily. I started taking photos with friends and posting them, which led to my friends taking pictures of me and posting them. I will always be appreciative of that small town I grew up in because it has given me close-knit people who make my home, home. As I start to learn today, my upbringing has given me a lot of character, drive, and motivation to succeed and do great things outside of Algonac.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Contrary to what most people believe, modeling is far from easy- and I am not talking about the part where you stand in front of the camera and pose, I am talking about the thought process that goes into it all from the behind the scenes work and preparation for a photoshoot that most people do not see. Some people have the connections, which enables the process to be easy for them, however, personally the agencies and clientele were no where near where I needed to be.
About 3 and a half years ago, I remember seeing an dm from a photographer hosting a Michigan event going on through Instagram, a free collaborative meetup for beginner models and photographers. This was when the creative community in Michigan was just starting to form. This was something I always wanted to do, but never knew where to start. I was so nervous about going because I truly didn’t know what to expect. It ended up being one of the best decisions of my life as I was fortunate enough to be able to meet so many new people that were just starting photography and modeling.
From there, I set up concepts and collaborative photoshoots with other beginners in the field to expand our portfolios and improve our skills. I was driving at least an hour to an hour and a half 3-4 times a week for photoshoots. It was a whole new world that I was excited to work in that I was willing to put the money and time into this new hobby in hopes to make a career. I was also a full-time student with a part time job, so I was working around 2 different schedules to make sure I had time for photoshoots. After putting in around 2 years of work, time, and money I finally started to see some opportunities pop up for myself. I am beyond proud of how dedicated and motivated I stayed consistently at the time because it truly paid off. I am happy to say that I am now a signed model living in the beautiful state of California taking modeling opportunities that I had only dreamed of for the past 3 and a half years.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend headed to visit the area, the best advice I could give prior is to get a ton of rest, book their reservations in advance, and be ready for a fulfilling trip! I am still fairly new to California, but I will give the best itinerary that I can! I would like to head for a morning dip in the ocean- in one of the secret coves and beaches hidden in Laguna. Then fill up on either Stacks Pancake House or What a Dish. Since, Orange County is in the middle of LA or San Diego, I’d give them a day in both cities!
For LA, I’d direct them to Melrose Ave for a fun-filled day of shopping for some vintage clothes or maybe book a day at the Beverly Hills Hotel for some cute photos and explore the city until nighttime to hit some clubs or bars such as Hyde, Bootsy, or Poppy.
For SD, I’d recommend going to La Jolla to walk around the beach town they have to offer and find a good spot to go snorkeling. If they are up to it, afterwards find a good spot in downtown San Diego to eat.
A great place to spend sunset is on a cliff near the beach. There are tons of great cliff spots in Laguna area that I love to relax and listen to music at.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
To start, the first people who had given me a lot of encouragement and freedom of expression was my Aunts. They both helped my learning and thinking process growing up of feeling free to do whatever I want, and not feeling tied down to stay in one place. When I was 15 or 16 I believe I was in my prime teenage years where I would find myself on YouTube a lot. I found one of the first travel content creators out there, Jay Alvarrez, who was making videos across the globe in tropical places with a model, Alexis Ren. As anyone who watched these videos, and especially at a young age, I was fascinated with their lifestyle. I was motivated to leave Michigan and explore the US and hopefully other countries. I was particularly fascinated with Alexis and her modeling career. I always loved the expression that can be shown through creating art in photography. This might come across as silly, but I loved watching posing videos on YouTube, where I found a video of Alexis and other models that had compilations of clips that have been taken of them modeling and posing connecting with music, and I loved it! I watched these videos for weeks and months, and that is where I learned how to connect music with posing creating great stories and concepts. Another content creator I found when I was about 16 was Indy Blue, she was a traveling video creator who showed me pieces of the world. I knew that I had to leave my small town, there was so much more to life.
Image Credits via IG Handle: @petegyn @wyeaston @sheridanelyse @shotbyhughes @gpolisenaphotography @exposuretwohundred