Adult Industry Professional Holly Randall

Top glamour photographer lets us get her to know her a little better

Aug 25, 2011 - Posted By: Peter
Continuing with our series of interviewing some of the top names behind the scenes of the adult industry, we spend a little bit of time with glamour photographer Holly Randall. Over the past few years, Holly has really become one of the top photographers in the business. Besides her work being featured on her own personal site, you can find her shoots on such large glamour sites as Twistys as well. She has recently also begun doing a lot of photoshoots for adult toy manufacture Flesh Light.

Being a photographer is really in Holly's blood, her mother is none other than famed adult photographer Suze Randall. After graduating from UCLA in 2003, Holly started working for her mom's production company as a director. Soon after Holly started her own production company, as well as her own adult site. Her site features all of the newest and most attractive adult models currently active, all shot by Holly's very gifted eye.

A lot of focus here at Barelist is on photo sets, and most of those sets are in the glamour niche, so it's very exciting for us to be able to get to know one of the top glamour photographers a little better. We hope that you find Holly's interview very informative and entertaining. Also make sure you check out Holly's official site and also follow her on Twitter.
Holly Randall's Official Site
Holly Randall on Twitter

Growing up, where you aware of the type of content you mom shot for a living? Was your family pretty open about it?
I suppose I always knew what my mom did for a living-- don't recall a sudden epiphany where I suddenly realized my parents were pornographers. Though they obviously didn't show off their work to me, I knew they made photos for "grown-ups" and that the office (which was our guest house) was off limits. My parents were never embarrassed by what they did, and my mother always told me that the nude female form was a beautiful thing. Because they didn't act embarrassed or shameful about their line of work, I didn't feel embarrassed or shameful about it either. Believe me, my parents may have had an "unusual" occupation, but I grew up in a far healthier home than a lot of people I know, whose parents had far more "normal" jobs. I had a really wonderful childhood, and was raised with strong family values.

How much did your mother being such an accomplished photographer play in your decision to become a photographer?
Well I have always been obsessed with photography, even before I picked up a camera. Actually I wanted to be a model when I was younger, but I don't have what it takes to be in front of the camera. I think my mom knew that, so she encouraged me to try my hand on the other side of the lens. I actually remember when I had signed up for my first photography class at the age of 12, and my mom helped me shoot my very first photo project. We got my little sister to model for me, and my mom found this cool kind of floor length white dress with long wide sleeves for my sister to wear. A fire had just raged through the Santa Monica mountains, where my parents live, and so we went out to the burnt hills and I shot some amazing black and white photos of my sister. That's when I realized how powerful a medium photography could be-- I still really love those photos, all these years later.

But ultimately what made me decide to become a photographer was a bad experience I had with a real creep when I was about 14 years old. As I'd mentioned earlier, I wanted to be a model when I was younger. So when I was hanging out with my friends, this guy named Rich came up to me and told me I was pretty, and that he could get me into Seventeen Magazine. Being young and stupid, I believed him, and agreed to let him to a "test" photo shoot on me. My mom was NOT happy about the idea, but I was adamant, so she allowed it, but only on the condition that he shoot me at her house so she could always be nearby and keep an eye on things. I wouldn't let her actually watch the shoot, but she was always close. Rich was such a pedophile it was just awful. He kept trying to get me to open my legs so he could get a "panty shot" (God and he said it in this horrible sing-song voice), and then he tried to get me to take my clothes off. Somehow he convinced me to put on a bra and panty set, and wear a sheer dress over it. Then he tried to get me to take off my underwear, so he could shoot me naked in a see-through dress (I wouldn't do it). I was never afraid of him, but I was definitely uncomfortable. (I didn't tell my mom about the things he said, because I was afraid she'd be mad at me because then she could say "I told you so.")Then the photos came back and they were just awful-- I mean, the guy was clearly not a real photographer. After that, I thought to myself how after only two years of photo classes (remember I started when I was 12) I could take better photos than him. And if a disgusting, no-talent perv like him could make a living photographing girls, then I could do it too, but I could do it better. I would make it a good experience for the model, and I would make them look beautiful. Of course at the time I wasn't aspiring to work in the adult field, but I always wanted to shoot glamour. I think that was a crucial turning point for me, and I think that shoot with that horrible man was actually a good thing in the end, because it drove me to really focus on photography, and inspired me to make shooting a good experience for the model. It's kind of ironic that I ended up shooting nudes, but hey it's a perfect fit for me. And needless to say I don't shoot 14 year old girls!

Do you pretty much tell all of your friends and acquaintances what you do for a living?
Usually, because I'm not ashamed of what I do. Sometimes I'm evasive about my job if I get the sense that someone might be offended by what I do, but usually people are curious and really interested.

Have you ever had anyone act negatively about your profession?
It's surprising how incredibly rarely I get a negative reaction about what I do. I know there are some people in my circle of friends (friends of friends or family members really) who don't approve of what I do, but we simply don't talk about my job. There are plenty of other things to have conversations about, and I have a wide variety of interests.

How have you seen the industry change over the last decade or so?
The changes have been really drastic in the last few years, mainly because of the advent of the internet. Back in my mom' day, before I even began working for her, the industry was a very small and insular community. You had to know someone to get in, and you usually had to work your way up. When the internet boom hit, it was like this gold rush into the porn industry. The internet's ability to give an individual direct access to their customers, included with the new low cost of consumer type cameras, allowed anybody to shoot porn. For a while it was great, but then the market became flooded and suddenly there was just tons of shitty porn all over the internet. Then bandwith costs dropped, and so piracy soared, because it wasn't that expensive to host photos and video anymore. And the future of our industry has been questionable ever since.

Where do you see the adult industry heading in the next few years?
I wish I knew! Everybody has their theories, but I think mobile porn is definitely a part of the new era of porn. And IPTV. I'm just trying to put my product out into every medium there is out there, plus I've got other projects going on (such as a studio that I will be renting out for production). I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket, so I'm juggling a lot of different projects so I've got revenue coming in from several different media outlets. I figure if one thing takes off, then I'll focus my efforts in that area. Luckily I'm busier now than I've ever been, so things are good for me at the moment.

What are your thoughts on piracy and tubes, being both a content producer and running a pay site?
Clearly they suck, nobody likes to see the content they work so hard on and pay so much money to produce being stolen and given away for free. But when I look at most tube sites, the content is all pretty similar, and of not very good quality. So you hope that people who are looking for the niche product you produce, and who want easy access to quality content will join your site. The problem is most consumers of porn don't actually care that much about the quality of what they watch-- as long as it "gets the job done". They're usually not people who watch a lot of porn anyhow. It's the porn "connoisseurs" that you want to attract, because they tend to be loyal if they like your product.

Do you prefer shooting a certain type of content? Video / Photographer
I'll always be a photographer at heart, but lately I've really been getting into video. Since I started shooting with a higher quality camera, and seeing a real cinematic difference in the results, I'm enjoying shooting video so much more than I used to be.

Also do you prefer shooting for a certain media over others? Print / Online / etc...
It's always nice to see your stuff in print, in a magazine, but you can publish so much more of your shoot online! Online galleries are where you can really see the set in it's entirety.

Are you an equipment snob? Which brand of camera equipment are you loyal too?
Haha yes... I used to not be so techie but I've become a lot more interested in equipment as I learn more about it. There are so many options out there! I'm a Canon girl, definitely.

Overall, what seems to take most of you time? Editing / Shooting / Setting up shoots?
Well my shoots are 10 hours so yeah that takes up most of my time. But I do spend a lot of time in pre and post production. I produce all of my own shoots so I do everything from choosing the location, the models, the wardrobe, the concepts, etc. I'm involved in every aspect of my business, because I like to learn and be really knowledgeable about my product. I also am a bit of a control freak, I'll admit it!

Who is your overall favorite model to shoot?
That is SUCH a hard question to ask, because I could literally give you 100 of my favorite models. I have a certain affinity towards the girls I shoot-- I think that because modeling nude and opening yourself and your sexuality to the camera is such an intimate act, I feel a certain bond and even a protectiveness over the girls I work with. When you get naked for someone, there's a vulnerability to that and a certain amount of trust that you put into the person who is shooting you. And I really respect the girls for that, I try to make it a good experience and not betray that trust. So that being said, off the top of my head I will say that I love working with Aria Giovanni, Dani Daniels, Tera Patrick, Alexis Texas, Tori Black, Celeste Star, Angela Sommers, Sophia Santi, Charlie Laine, Brett Rossi, Spencer Scott, Candle Boxxx, Emily Addison, Taylor Vixen, Dylan Ryder, Eufrat, Jelena Jensen, Heather Vandeven, Jada Fire, Jana Cova, Jayden Cole, Lisa Ann, Katsuni, Jesse Jane, Lexi Belle, Madison Ivy, Mosh, Kayla Jane Danger, Carlotta Champagne, Samantha Saint, Sandy, Ryan Keely, Nikki Benz, Sasha Grey, Sunny Leone, Tory Lane... I could seriously go on and on. As cliche and lame as it may sound, I kind of love every girl I shoot. Obviously there are exceptions, but I usually have a really great experience with every girl I work with. I'm pretty lucky!

Is there any model that is no longer active that you would have loved to shoot?
It would have been so awesome to have been able to shoot Jenna Jameson.

What has been the most exotic location you have ever shot at?
The Czech Republic-- I don't travel a lot for shooting, so there aren't many locales I can name.

You seem to travel a ton for shoots, how do you pass all the down time?
I actually don't-- I've only traveled to Prague and Budapest to shoot, and only twice-- once each year starting two years ago. I hope to change that-- I would absolutely love to travel and shoot all over the world. But I need better European connections, especially with locations. So if anyone has any suggestions for me... ;)

Have you ever call off a shoot mid shoot? Why?
No but I've almost had to. Once a girl who I really enjoy working with must've taken something that morning, because suddenly, in the middle of the day, she got really weird and loopy. I mean, she started talking to her lunch. I'm not kidding. So I had to pull her aside and tell her to pull her shit together or I was going to send her home. I told her "You're one of my new favorite models, don't make me change my mind." That seemed to resonate with her, and we made it through the day. It was very stressful though.

What's the craziest thing you have ever witnessed on set?
Alicia Klass walking across the studio with one dildo in her ass and one in her pussy. I don't know how she kept them in there, but they didn't fall out! That girl was crazy, but I kind of like them crazy.... they make for a much more interesting day.

What do you think is the most important thing you have learned since starting your career as a glamour photographer?
Respect for the models is key. I've heard about all of these photographers who make the girls cry on set, telling them they're ugly or fat. I never understood that, because even if a girl doesn't live up to your expectations when she comes to set, how is making her feel insecure about her looks going to make your day go any better? Are you going to get better results if you make her feel unattractive? Aren't we all here to reach the same goal-- to produce a beautiful and sexy product? I see myself and the model as a team: if I can make you feel sexy and beautiful, that will come across in the photos. I've shot girls who were literally driving me up the wall all day, but they never know that I'm on the verge of strangling them, because my patience is vast. Girls who are difficult are usually just insecure, so I try to make them feel good about themselves, and then everybody is happy.

Do you have any tips for aspiring glamour photographers?
This is a hard question for me to answer since anyone who knows my background knows I rode in on my mother Suze Randall's coattails, LOL... So really I guess the most important thing I can say is that if you're a photographer because you truly love taking beautiful photos, then you're already one step ahead. So many people (guys usually) become photographers because they want an excuse to be around naked women, or think it's gonna get them laid. Don't be a creep, treat the models with respect, love what you do, and always strive to improve yourself. Study the work of the people you admire-- do your research! You're never too good to get better, and there is always someone who can teach you something. Be open to trying new things, and prepare, prepare, prepare. Don't expect to show up to a shoot and expect that magic will just happen. Really think about what you're looking to get out of the day, and come prepared to execute that vision. Props and wardrobe and makeup make a big difference. The pre-production that you put into the shoot is just as important, if not more, than the actual shoot.

Do you think that models have an easier time letting loose with a woman photographer?
Some models say that they prefer working with me because I'm a girl, so yes I think there is something to that. But ultimately I think it's the way you treat your models-- whether you be a female or a male-- that makes them feel comfortable. The only person who ever shot me naked was a man (Mark Daughn), and I chose him because I trusted his talent but also him as a person.

Are there any misconceptions you would like to clear up about the adult industry? Models / Photographers / Producers etc...
God there are so many misconceptions where do I start? I guess the main one that I get hit with all the time is the assumption that I get turned on when I shoot, and that I sometimes even join in the scene. Hahaha can you imagine if I actually did that? The job would never get done! When I shoot a scene, I don't see two people having sex-- I see a mathematical equation that I have to solve. There's geometry (have to make sure there's nothing in the background to distract from the models-- such as round objects near their heads), there's angles (does her leg look big in that shot because it's angled directly at the camera?), there's lighting issues. It's all a puzzle and I have to solve it in a quick and efficient manner. There's nothing sexual about it.

You haven't only just been behind the camera, how would you describe your time in front of the camera as a model?
Man that was tough. I kind of did it as an experiment, I wanted to see what it was like to be a model. My mother was a model before she became a photographer, so she knew what it was like to be in front of the lens, and I think that experience is what taught her to become such a good photographer. I didn't actually realize how exposed and vulnerable you feel as a model, how out of control, how much you have to trust the person who is shooting you. It really gave me a new found sense of respect for the girls that I shoot. Oh, and I also learned that crash dieting sucks!

Besides photography, what else are you passionate about?
Lots of things-- reading is one. I actually graduated from UCLA with a degree in World Literature while I was working for Even though I knew I would probably work in porn my whole life and I would never use a bachelor's degree in English, it was still important to me to get that degree. I also really loved school and literature. Whenever I have any free time I read-- I am a fast reader so I consume several books a month, if I have enough free time. I read almost every night in the bath. Which is why I can't buy a Kindle and why most of my books are waterlogged!

I also love traveling-- it's so exciting to experience new places and immerse yourself in a culture that is foreign to you. It expands your horizons and gives you a different perspective on life-- makes you realize how small your little world is and all the stupid little dramas in it. The world is so much bigger than the petty things we stress about every day, and traveling helps to remind me of that.

I'm a certified scuba diver, and though I don't go nearly as much as I'd like, it's always a magical experience to be able to swim in the ocean and breathe underwater. Time slows down, and you feel a part of nature-- it's a beautiful thing. I also love to dance, though I rarely do that either. I'd really love some more free time in a few years to explore all of the things I love to do, it's just that work takes up so much of my time these days. But luckily I'm passionate about my job, so I'm happy when I'm working.

What's an ordinary day like for Holly Randall? A day in the life...
Ha it's so boring you wouldn't believe it. If I'm not shooting, I wake up, make coffee, check my emails. I might jump on the treadmill or go to bar method class for an hour. Then I take a shower, and work some more. I'll make lunch, and sit out on my patio with my dogs (and my husband too if he's not at work that day). Back to work for a while, and then I'll probably take a late afternoon nap (I'm a big napper). Then I wake up, probably imbibe more caffeine, and work some more. Then I'll make dinner and watch a movie with my husband. Fascinating, isn't it?

Would you like to add any shameless plugs at the end of your interview?
Yes! Join!!!! It's awesome and I work really hard on it!

Holly Randall

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Wow Holly, great job with the interview! I enjoyed reading all of your answers :) I hope you get to travel to many countries in the near future, for work OR play!
Posted by: Barelist Tina on 8/26/2011 2:09:14 PM
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