Tour the Rustic Farmhouse-Style Home of Photographer Marnie Hawson
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, photographer Marnie Hawson welcomes us into her home.
White picket fences have always been synonymous with the picture-perfect home, and after stepping inside Marnie Hawson’s Macedon Ranges abode, now we know why.
The purpose-driven photographer has lived amongst the breathtaking scenery of Central Victoria for close to a decade—almost as long as she spent working as an environmental scientist before making a drastic career change.
Now specialising in interior, travel and lifestyle photography, Marnie captures places and spaces through her uniquely personal lens. Her environmental background sits at the crux of her second life as a purpose-driven photographer, leading her to work exclusively with ethical, earth-friendly businesses.
This focus on sustainable practice and consumer consciousness extends beyond her work and into her home. Budding rose bushes and thriving herb gardens surround her rustic, farmhouse-inspired home, whilst a brood of chooks roam freely out back.
Inside, vintage and second-hand treasures adorn walls, cabinets, and shelves. A French provincial style kitchen boasts concrete countertops, antique brass fixtures, and linen café curtains, whilst a palette of charcoal and white sets an earthy tone throughout the space.
Above the linen couch in the living room—Marnie’s favourite place to relax—an assortment of old photographs hang as if suspended in time. If only the wood-paneled walls of this home could talk, they’d certainly have some incredible stories to tell.
Hi Marnie! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Photos! I could say something deep and meaningful about pictures creating stories that tell a tale to the viewer, but in the end it’s photos and the emotions they evoke. I’m a purpose-driven photographer, too, so hopefully I create some awareness about sustainability and ethics within both the business and personal worlds.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I still think of myself more as a scientist than a creative, which is funny since I’ve now been a photographer for almost 6 years. I think I love the process of my job, from pre-production right through to delivering photos and getting clients into publications. I love ticking off tasks—and working for yourself gives you a lot of opportunities to do that!
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue photography?
No, not at all. I have an Honours degree in Zoology, a degree in Environmental Science, and worked as an environmental scientist for almost a decade before deciding to switch my career to one where I could work for myself. And even then, I wasn’t a keen hobbyist photographer so I’m still not that sure how I chose photography.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I don’t really have a standard process, and I couldn’t really explain why I make certain compositions, it’s just an innate instinct for me. I probably overshoot—for instance when I try to cover off all angles of a house in various orientations and compositions. I chase the light around the house, and always like to shoot exteriors and gardens at dusk. I love the quality of light, and also hate mornings!
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
Most of my work has come from word of mouth or Instagram. But I think word of mouth is most important, even if it’s not really a ‘strategy.’ But people trust other people’s recommendations, and there is so much more to being successful than just being able to take a good photo. I think the business part is probably even more essential, and I am one of the rare creatives that love spreadsheets, organisation, accounting, and productivity. Must be relicts from my science background!
What’s been the most challenging lesson learned since you started your business?
Learning to say no! I’m still terrible at it, though, and end up stupidly busy all year round.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
The shifting of my business in 2018 to a purpose-driven model, with a focus on working with clients who share my values. I realised that I only wanted to work with people who have a strong commitment to the environmental and social impact of their businesses, and who constantly seek to improve their impact.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business/ go out on their own?
Write a business plan, no matter how loose. I started my career in photography by just writing down what I was good at, what I needed to improve, and how to get clients when I didn’t have any (like taking on personal projects and shooting to create your own portfolio). Getting to where you want to be is just a series of steps, and not giving up.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Almost nine years, which is the longest time in one place apart from where I grew up. This was never going to be our ‘forever home’ but somehow we’ve been here for almost a decade. We’re always looking though—one day we’ll end up in an off-the-grid passive house in the middle of nowhere.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
I always primarily look for character in a house. If it doesn’t have that elusive quality, then I’m not interested. Somehow I just know if a house is right just by walking into the space.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
Not really, as we weren’t planning on staying as long as we have—but last year we bought a 50-year-old AGA stove and then refurbished the kitchen around it. We also recently converted the old post office building on our street front into a little private bar nicknamed the Misses Sutherlands, paying homage to the two sisters who lived in our home and ran the local post office for 50 years.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I don’t think I had one. It’s just pieces that I love from sustainable businesses, or vintage, or second-hand, and ones that will last a long time.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
I have a lot of vintage pieces that I’ve picked up along my travels, and have a house full of Armadillo rugs, which I just love for their ethos and fair-trade practices. A comfy couch is a must, and I love our big linen couch in front of the fire.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I’m toying with the idea of building a big window seat under the kitchen window—just another place to work from while overlooking the veggie garden and chooks. And the bonus is it’s right next to the AGA when it’s cold in winter.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I spend a lot of time on the linen couch in front of the fire. When I get sick of working from my office, I take my laptop there and curl up with Dexter. I also strongly dislike mornings and am partial to staying in bed on editing days with a coffee and doing ‘bed emails’ all morning.
Tell us about your bedroom.
We have three bedrooms in our house, and actually sleep in all of them on a bit of a rotation because I’m a really light sleeper and often run off in the night to a different bedroom. We have one in the old part of the house (1890s) with really high ceilings and the original weatherboards which is lovely to sleep in. The master bedroom is actually off the kitchen in the newer part of the house out the back, which means I wake up to the sound of the coffee machine being turned on by my husband.
Shop Marnie's look with the Build-Your-Own Bundle with Olive, Pinstripe, White and Oatmeal.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Good quality linen, more linen, and a good mix of layers and textures created through cushions, throws, rugs, and art. Also, a mix of old and new—otherwise it feels lacking in character. Also, always buy from sustainable companies. It’s essential you spend your money in good places. I really love the quote by Bea Johnson that “every time we make a decision, we have the power to support a practice that is sustainable or one that is not.” It’s just a mindset shift, really. Next time you go to purchase something new, just do a bit of research for an alternative product that supports an ethical business. And always look for second-hand as a starting point!
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I’m looking forward to working with a bunch of new clients this year. I’m really targeting sustainable architects, designers and builders as I’m so passionate about their work. I’m also heading over to Europe with Lynda Gardener in June and meeting our UK writer in Germany to shoot an amazing old house. We may also be part of a very special workshop in Provence, France, TBC! We’re combining work with leisure on this trip, so if anyone has some projects for us to style and shoot in Europe, hit us up!
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