Full name? Jacob Hotaling
Hometown? Wilbraham, Massachusetts
Relationship status? Single (except for Harry Styles)
Astrology sign? Leo
Major? New Media
Minor? Psychology and Marketing
Anticipated Year of Graduation? 2022
What Organizations are you involved with? TeamMAINE, Screamin’ Blackbears Pep Band, President of Videography and Creative Media Club
Why the University of Maine? The opportunities here are endless, getting involved was my top priority ESPECIALLY with TeamMAINE which I’m so happy I got! The staff is incredible and the community here is so amazing allowing me the opportunity to really thrive here!
Place You Can Always be Found on Campus? In my pop-up studio in my apartment, with my close friends traveling the world or on the Campus Mall when it isn’t -10 degrees.
Bestfriends? So many
Best Thing about the University of Maine? The community and the family I’ve built here
Best Place to Meet People on Campus? On TeamMAINE
Best Professors on Campus? All of them!
Best Classes You’ve Taken? CHY121-122 and NMD106
Best Weekend Activities? Taking spontaneous trips, long drives jamming to music or playing Monopoly Deal with my roomies!
Best Underrated Places to go in Maine? Hiking Beehive Trail at Acadia National Park, it takes guts but it is so worth it in the end!
Favorite Song to Dance To? Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners
Favorite Song to Listen to in your Car? Electric Love by Borns
Favorite Place to Eat in Orono? Family Dog
Favorite Snacks? UTZ Party Mix and Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies
Favorite Go-To Recipe? Avocado Rice Bowl
Favorite Aroma Joe’s Rush Flavor? Pink Starburst
Favorite and/or Lucky Number? eleven
Favorite Snapchat Filter? Hype by Bryant
Favorite Social Media? Instagram!
Favorite Day of the Week? Friday
Favorite Season? Summer
Favorite Time of Day? Golden Hour
Favorite TV Series to Binge? Sex Education or Glee
Favorite Disney movie? Lion King
Top Three on your Undergraduate Bucket List? Travel to at LEAST five new places in the world while we are given the time to, work on short films and my portfolio that will help me ultimately get to California for my graduate career, make endless memories and cultivate friendships that will last a lifetime!
Top Three Places to Frequent in Maine? York, Acadia, and Kittery
Top Three Sayings or Words Said Daily? “Tea.”; “Sure, Jan.”; anything Tik Tok
Top Three Goals for this Semester? Work on projects that will boost my portfolio, focus more on myself and put mental health over academics and get on the Dean’s List!
Top Three Harry Styles Songs off his New Album? 1) Cherry 2) Falling 3) Golden/To Be So Lonely
What first got you into photography and how did you start?
I first got into photography around sophomore year of high school, around that time, I began to post pictures of sunsets and “artsy” pictures of my friend’s coffee (because I don’t drink it, myself) on my regular Instagram page. Then with social norms, I decided to make a separate account for it because I enjoyed taking funky photos, slapping some edits on the ones I wanted to showcase and sharing them!
When did this turn into a hobby and then later, how did it transition into a part-time career?
I took my first portraits right at the end of junior year with my friend, Sam. We went to a local park and I had my camera body I use now with the basic kit lenses and we took some… interesting shots, but at the time I was so proud of myself!!! I then got inspired over my family summer vacation to take a picture like Brandon Woelfel with fairy lights and I continued building my photography around that – until in the middle of my senior year when I began to take more portraits and kept on developing while I started doing paid gigs! People loved my style and I mean, being in a small western town in Massachusetts where the only other photographers are adults with photography dedicated businesses and no unique style (if you’re reading this, I’m sorry), that helped me greatly! People wanted dope pictures for their Instagram feeds and I brought that!
When you did make the jump from hobby to career, did you worry that you would lose your passion for photography if you did paid shoots and if so, how did you prevent that from happening?
That’s a great question. It truly made that jump, I would say, towards the end of senior year and is still a “career” through the present. It makes a decent income, well “income” if you were to compare it with my insane schedule, but my passion, I would say, gets lost in that. That’s why I wish I had sponsors or support from an outside company because my passion comes from being creative and being granted that outlet to really showcase that side of my work. Going to cool places or getting new props or alike is what truly inspires me, but with a low budget, you gotta work with what you’ve got in front of you. I would say what kills my passion most is senior pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I love showing everyone and how beautiful or handsome they are for their senior photos, but they are the blandest and most basic photos to take which DRAIN me – but they pay well so I stick with it. Nowadays, I typically lose motivation for my shoots – sometimes. I learned this thing in one of my psychology courses where when you have external rewards (like money among others), you tend to lose internal motivation, and I really do feel that is the case, however, I make efforts to prevent that from occurring by spicing up my shoots. For example, I’m straying away from basic natural shoots, or normal poses, eye-level – things you could take with your iPhone, but the camera makes it look more professional. I’m making the next step towards fashion photography, modeling photography, and more!
When did you first feel like you found your style and started to feel as though you were beginning to find your own?
It’s funny because even now I don’t think I’ve truly found my style despite the fact that I’ve declared to my “fans” so many times that I’ve found it but I truly haven’t, and I’m jealous of all the photographers who have done so. Growing up in a small uncreative town and going to school in said town really didn’t help, as 99% of the people are unfamiliar with urban/outside-the-box outfits, aren’t comfortable with posing or doing crazy stuff, and in addition, I didn’t have the environment to shoot in. Every day I feel like I’m getting closer to it, but I’ve never hit something and said “oh my god THAT. IS. IT.” but honestly I feel that’s been the fun of it. While styles are nice and allow for promising what your clients are getting into, being flexible allows more creativity, but that being said, there is a line. You don’t want clients seeing your Instagram, doing a shoot, and getting a totally different style than what they saw or envisioned from you – that’s a big photography no-no. You want a style to promise your clients so they know what to expect, but you don’t want it to be limiting for you as the person behind the lens. I’m trying to work on a set of presets created exclusively by me (which are pre-adjusted and made filters that you can put on photos), so that it will define a spectrum of a style but also not limit the pictures – I am really hoping to get that done soon so my photography page can actually go somewhere!
What have you gained unexpectedly from putting your work out there?
I was asked to do my first wedding! That’s the most exciting thing honestly. I never expected to do one but have always dreamt about it and needless to say, I am SO pumped! I’ve been asked to do formals, events, I’ve even been asked to use it for my jobs here on campus and I’ve even been asked to be a raffle prize for my school’s scholarship dinner two years in a row and more – It’s been amazing how far it’s taking me so young in its journey.
What inspires your shoots and your work?
Definitely Instagram. Even though Instagram is a venus fly trap for my brain, so many creators are on there. I get inspired by new outfits, concepts, places, and more every single day, and I create a mood board of what I want to do and what I dream of doing. Seeing people go outside of the box is amazing, now I just need to figure out how I can go outside of the box, especially given the circumstances I am in and the limitations I face.
Is there a big community of people like you on campus and if not, how did you find others that had the same passion as you?
Sadly, there really isn’t. There are a lot of people who want their pictures taken, but only like 20% truly want to get creative. It’s also tough because college students aren’t looking to pay that much, so with college discounts and such, I try to keep it as low as possible. I actually found two people who have the same passion as me with photography and everything. Sadly one of them transferred schools, but the other is still here but graduating this year. I expected it to be tough in this area honestly, but you have to work with what you have if you want to be successful.
How often do you shoot and how do you manage to fit it into your schedule despite academic and other commitments that can take up a lot of it?
Sadly, academics always come first. Yes, it isn’t my favorite thing because I would rather be lying on the ground trying to get that cool camera angle of my model with the sun behind them then taking a social psychology exam I spent days studying for but, I’m paying for it! I typically have my weekdays packed to the max with schoolwork and campus work so that I am able to leave my weekends open and flexible for my creativity. When my immune system isn’t destroying me, I usually shoot two to three times a week. Because my shoots take about two to four hours depending, leaving the weekends open for them helps SO much in terms of scheduling and making sure I have the time to focus on my shoots, the model and my work. I wish I had more time, honestly, but it gives me something to look forward to during the week.
What is your main goal when shooting people and in sharing this work?
The motto I live by is “Everyone is a Model.” I always have people meet with me and before we shoot they say “I’m not good at this” or “I’m so awkward in front of the camera” and if you saw the pictures I end up with at the end of the shoot, they could straight up be in a magazine. I stick by my saying strongly because I’ve never had an uncomfortable model encounter, out of the 100+ people I’ve shot over my career, I can guarantee everyone has boosted confidence because I make my shoots comfortable and make sure they know they are AMAZING because it is TRUE. Confidence is something I’ve personally struggled with for most of my entire life, and my goal is to make sure my models do not struggle with it. Sharing my work, on the other hand, is a way for me to show that even living in the middle of Maine, I can take beautiful and captivating pictures and not be limited by creativity in the face of these big creators who aren’t financially struggling college kids and who live in California where every step is another photo op. I want to bring a creative light to almost a (sorry, Maine, I really do love you) dull area. Personally, for me, as beautiful as nature is, I’m such a city and urban fashion guy so where I am, sadly, is the total opposite.
What do you have to say to those who want to do photoshoots but are convinced that they won’t be good at modeling or feel as though they lack the necessary experience?
Touching upon what I said before, DO IT. JUST. DO. IT. So many people are surprised after shooting with me at how amazing they look in the photographs I capture them in. They’re like “I’m so picky I’ll probably only get like three good pictures” and they leave with forty. I don’t believe in experience when it comes to modeling, that’s what gets you a gig in the new medical commercial or a Sonic advertisement (@Hannah Ann), but everyone is a model, literally. Everyone brings such a unique look, perspective, mindset, and more to my shoots and THAT is what motivates me. There is always something new that each person brings.
Switching gears, you’ve ventured into videography, what inspired you to begin working in that direction?
I have always been interested in travel videos, especially films for the longest time. Indy Blue is a semi-popular creator (sidenote, she really just struck gold by not announcing having a kid and then breaking the internet), but she became big with her 2016 video and all of the following ones she has made up to this point. She didn’t go to college and with her wedding videography business, she had enough money to travel the world with her best friends. THE DREAM. She traveled both cheap and smart and had the best time. I wanted to do that, so badly, so I got into videography (began practicing it) in January of 2019. My first video was literally hiking a nearby mountain with friends and my first video (on my youtube) was one of my favorites. Who knew capturing smiles and putting music behind it would make it so amazing. I’ve made videos traveling to D.C., one for summer orientation with my friends on TeamMAINE, a summer one, smaller ones on mini trips and my 2019 one that I watch EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. These videos inspire me and remind me how beautiful my life is even when I’m not traveling across the world because I love capturing these memories, that’s my favorite thing. To have these gems to forever look back upon made by myself is truly the best gift I could ever give or have.
Has videography inspired you in a way that differs from the manner in which photography has?
Travel more especially, I’ve planned two big trips for 2020 (one for Spring Break and one in May) and am planning one more for the end of July!! When I say “big” I mean the first time on a plane, staying somewhere over a week and somewhere new and beautiful! (Tune in to see!!), but especially follow my passion. I’ve loved film forever, music in film, cinematography, it all speaks to me. If you sit and watch La La Land with me, you’ll hate me, because all I will do it talk about the colors, the angles, the camera movements, the dances, the music, and the overall magic. No seriously, let’s do it! I’m infatuated with how the entertainment world can hit people’s emotions and make such a powerful impact on people’s minds and in their lives so I finally changed my major so that I can follow that passion of film and I’ve never been more excited.
What’s the end goal with your photography and videography?
Keep making videos of my life, not only for myself but to share and inspire others. My videos come with a powerful message (clarified on my Instagram) that I want to share with others, so if people are in a limiting situation similar to mine, understand or have experienced a similar mental situation, or can relate to me at all in any manner, I can give them hope, and also show off the amazing bada** people in my life.
As for plans after the completion of my undergraduate career, I hope to graduate and continue on to graduate school at University of California: Los Angeles (UCLA), and end up living in Los Angeles and working for A24 or Netflix on their original movies and series, where we see some of the best cinematography and movie scoring today.
What is a piece of advice or multiple pieces of advice that you would give yourself when you first started out now that you’ve been doing this for a bit?
Don’t lose help. Don’t think because you aren’t in a big city or surrounded by natural models that you won’t be successful. People love passion, and if you express that passion and love for what you do, people will love what you do. Don’t give up on your page, don’t get down on yourself, don’t ever think you aren’t satisfying the people around you – you are the only one that you need to satisfy.
To conclude, overall, what is your favorite part about both photography and videography?
Expressing myself as being different from others. It allows people to see what’s inside my head. Expressing something that shows what I want to explain myself as, whether it be my style, or what I take pictures and videos of. It shows my uniqueness. I love sharing my life. Everyone has ups and downs but I push all that aside to really realize that life is amazing, and I hope my work shows exactly that.
If you would like to check out Jake’s youtube channel, the link can be found here, otherwise, his personal and photography Instagram accounts are linked above.