Please explain what just happened.

Everything has just changed again…Things shift, open up and possibilities expand.The changes and opportunity created by the shifts continue to get increasingly interesting.

What is your earliest memory?

I have a memory which I am not sure is real, but the moment is ingrained in my mind.I was born in Los Angeles, and my parents lived in Manhattan Beach at the time.I must have been really young.My parents are on either side of me, holding my hands.We are on a beach.This long-haired, tanned, shirtless beach guy sticks his face inmine and tells me I am cute (or something along those lines) in a loud, raucous manner.In retrospect he wasprobably drunk.Then he continued stumbling off down the beach.That incident has been something I have been able to recall vividly my whole life…

If you weren’t a photographer, what other profession would you choose?

Most likely I would have continued to pursue a writing career.I have been writing since I was a child.I studied journalism, non-fiction writing and screenwriting in college. Throughout childhood, I always imagined I would eventually write professionally.In reality, I think I am just much more visual and able to express myself better through a lens.I find that I hide behind my camera –- it gives me purpose.I am usually justmore comfortable behind a camera… It feels safe.

Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

Irish cheddar, organic sprouted bread, a few corn tortillas, almond butter, ground flax seed, an apple, farmer’s market greens… Wow, I really need to shop!

What verb best describes you?



What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

Follow your instincts.Follow your heart.Don’t be afraid. Be strong. Explore.Take as many chances as you can.Don’t worry!You won’t be so incredibly awkward forever.

And, you will NEVER understand boys!Try not to waste too much time and energy on them.

What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

Solitude.Examine the situation. Talk with close girlfriends.Get back out there.

Define “success.”

I guess my definition of success is being proud of my achievements and being able to appreciate what I am doing.Success to me is finding and understanding the strength in myself.Success is being stimulated and thrilled by the creative work that I am doing, as well as developing and achieving the goals Iset.I believe success iswhen I follow through and achieve something I set my mind to, whether it be a photographic assignment, driving solo through the Irish countryside or learning to surf in Mexico.When I put my mind to something and follow through, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.That’s success.

From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

Those who are thoughtful and creative, intelligent and strong inspire me most — unique individuals, artists and mothers, who have made it on their own with hard work and dedication.Those who are able to manifest what they want.People who follow their heart’s desires – they don’t just talk about it — they do it, they make it happen, they realize their dreams and aspirations – they go all the way.I have so much respect for that kind of commitment and foresight.

What change do you want to be in the world?


Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.

Embarrassingly, I use the emoticon with too much frequency.I know it must be incredibly annoying. ;)I am constantly throwing a damn smiley face in after a sentence or thought. However, what I think is worse than emoticons is: LOL.For some reason I find the acronym LOL completely irritating.

How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

Well, I work in the film industry, so I am sure I’m connected in a multitude of ways –- however, I managed to figure a close degree of separation:I photographed Ileana Douglas for a Starz TV show called Headcase — and she played Kevin Bacon’s wife in a film called Stir of Echoes.

What makes you feel most guilty?

I am a very healthy girl.For years I have been taking impeccable care of myself –- healthy, high quality food, exercise, lots of sleep, and for several years I have rarely consumed any adult beverage other than wine.I find on occasion when I drink too much wine I end up feeling horrible and guilty the next day.I try to be really good to my body, which is just too sensitive these days. 😉

Please list three things you never leave home without.

Sadly, my blackberry is always a must.Sunglasses.A pen.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Choose a practical career.If everyone had a practical career, the world would be a very sad place.I would rather be happy and doing what I love than be practical and miserable.I don’t want to waste my life for a paycheck.

What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

Go for it.There is nothing holding you back.Figure out what you want and figure out the steps to achieving it.

What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

Betrayal of trust.Dishonesty of a significant other or close friend.Having your trust abused and being disrespected by someone you love, who supposedly loves you.Those have been the harshest forms of betrayal I have experienced.That kind of betrayal changes you.

Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

I have some issues with social anxiety, so the idea of being on a game show really freaks me out!I really hate being on the spot, or center of attention — I have never done well when people are staring at me.I completely freeze up and can’t think!I have never really watched game shows.I didn’t watch much TV as a kid.I watched a lot of movies, but no game shows to my recollection. Ironically, my sister did win some stuff on the Price is Right recently! 😉

What do you want to know?

Everything I can!I want to keep learning, continue to be stimulated.The progress I have made in my life has been from hands-on learning and experiencing, jumping in and figuring it out.The more I know, the more I understand, the harder I push, the further I go, and the more fun I have.

Sometimes I think I want to know that everything will be okay.I have to trust that as long as I continue to do what makes me happy, what makes me proud of myself, then everything will be okay.

What would you like your last words to be?

I am grateful.I recognize how hard I have worked and how unbelievably fortunate I am.I have had a wealth of support, assistance, opportunities and old-fashioned good luck along the way.I am so incredibly grateful for all of it!

Please explain what will happen.

I will keep going forward on my adventure –- camera in-hand (of course) in order to document the events as they unfold.I will continue to follow what stimulates me, figuring out what feeds me, and how it all pieces together.

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COLLEEN HAYES works as a unit still photographer for feature film and television projects. Her repertoire includes the hit TV shows, In Plain Sight, Crash, Breaking Bad, The Mentalist, Cold Case, Party Down and the feature films The Spy Next Door and Not Forgotten, among others.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Canada, as a teenager Hayes jumped at an opportunity to relocate to the high-desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in order to escape what she considered the unending Ontario winters. Hayes calls Santa Fe home; the place that inspired her to become a photographer.

After studying Political Science and Journalism, Hayes found a niche in the Documentary Studies program at the College of Santa Fe.  The program married her love of photography and visual story-telling with her longtime interest in writing.  She graduated from CSF with a Bachelor of Arts in Documentary Studies (documentary photography and non-fiction writing) with a minor in Political Science.

While Hayes got her start as a professional photographer as an intern with a local Santa Fe paper, she continued inching towards a full-time artistic career.  An internship with veteran still photographer, Richard Foreman, on the feature film 3:10 to Yuma, introduced Hayes to the world of film-making. 3:10 to Yuma made a permanent impression on Hayes, and changed her life dramatically.  Inspired by the documentary and artistic aspects of the set photographer's position, and struck by the immediate access to the creative forces on a set, Hayes was hooked. Learning as much as possible while assisting Mr. Foreman, she swiftly parlayed the internship into her current career as a set photographer.

A member of  I.A.T.S.E Local 600, The International Cinematographer's Guild, Hayes has photographed many talented actors including Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Jackie Chan, Dennis Hopper, Ben Stiller, Jason Schwartzman, Allison Janney, Megan Mullally, Mary McCormack, Steve Buscemi, Kevin Nealon, and Jane Lynch, among others.

Hayes has continued to pursue her passion for documentary photography, “documentative," child and family portraiture.  In conjunction with her set and documentary work, her photography ranges from head shots and culinary portraiture to capturing jewelry, stone work and concert photography. Hayes remains creatively active in her profession and maintains her standing by continuing to hone her skills, exploring new avenues and creative opportunities. Hayes now divides her time working between New Mexico and Los Angeles, California.

6 responses to “21 Questions with Colleen Hayes”

  1. Joel Perkal says:

    I found the article, it’s character, and the photography therein both interesting and inspiring. It says a lot about A person to come up from an inspiration or idea, through hard work and perseverance actually implement that inspiration into a way of life.

  2. Jennifer Jesse Smith says:

    Colleen has a brave spirit and it stands out in her work and personal style. It is rare in the industry to find spirit, talent and a great heart all in one individual. She loves the creative buzz and making it happen on the fly..which I adore her for. She has shot my work on set and made it sing on actors. She’s a joy to work with and always open to new adventures in the creative process and Life~

  3. The lovely and amazing Colleen, it’s a delight to have you here. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photographs and giving us a glimpse into your world.

  4. Simon Smithson says:

    Colleen, I have an important question. To me, it seems as if photographers have an incredible amount of power over everyone – even celebrities and politicians. You guys are kind of like the bomb in Stratego – you trump everything but the miners.

    Do you feel that way? Is that an awareness you have?

  5. Colleen Hayes says:

    I apologize for the tardiness of my response, Simon, but yes, I absolutely agree with you.

    We live in such a visual/media/image saturated world, and we know that images have the potential to be incredibly powerful and have longevity. The many creative choices a photographer makes during their process has an impact and influence on how an image is viewed.

    I agree with you in believing that being a photographer is a powerful position and comes with a responsibility – particularly for photojournalists, war photographers, documentarians… While working with celebrities, I am very conscious about where and when I am pointing my camera — I try to be completely respectful of those I am photographing. I strive to capture those amazingly powerful moments of complete honesty and intimacy, and occasionally, I feel the line where my documentary training and love of candid moments bumps up against respecting the down-time or personal moments of an actor. A common belief is that celebrities are used to having cameras pointed at them constantly, however, it can be a very sensitive issue and a delicate balance, and for some it can be intrusive.


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