Photographer / Photo Editor Tiff Gif on Balancing School and Shoots
The New York photographer on why she turns down opportunities, and why she places authenticity over 'coolness'.
This interview originally appeared in the Slashie newsletter, which highlights creative 'slashies': people with multiple careers or a side-hustle.
Meet the photographer making waves—quite literally—in New York City: Tiffany of Tiff.Gif Photography. Her city-warping, psychedelic edits have captured the attention of bloggers big and small, and she fits shoots around her busy schedule of school and study. With it being her final year of a post-grad, it's a wonder she had any time to chat to us at all!
Q: What got you into photography?
A: I've always had a fascination with memory. When I was younger I had a journal where I would write down the date and the weather… That's all! I loved using that as a marker. I just love to document things!
With my first ever cheque from an internship, I bought myself a Canon T3I and kit lens: real dinky, real basic. I'd be that friend: wherever I went I would use it, even at McDonald's! You'd get some high quality photos of french fries! I loved looking back at the photos and remembering the day. That's how I got started, simply documenting times with friends.
Q: With all your commitments at university and with photography, how do you find balance?
A: Something I've learned is the importance of prioritising and scheduling, and within that, knowing your limits and boundaries.
I know when to turn things down. I need me-time and I need to maintain my mental health and wellbeing. I've turned down more opportunities than I've wanted to, but at the end of the day, I feel good about where I am because I'm taking care of myself.
I'm hoping that the people who follow me, now and in the future, will remember that I'm still a person. I love putting out work, but my priority has to be my physical health, mental health, emotional health. I have to make sure all that's in check before I move forward.
Q: Your Instagram is really unique, and your captions seem particularly genuine, how did it develop into what it is today?
A: When I started out I'd caption just three words shrouded in mystery! People would comment "dope". It felt empty.
I heard an Instagrammer on a podcast talking about the importance of being genuine to connect with other people, and I realised that up until then I was trying to be a cool, mysterious photographer. That's not what I wanted, so now I'm blatantly honest. I'll talk about the struggles of being a photographer or problems with school.
That's actually how I'm finding a number of my clients, they'll reach out to me and say they appreciate the authenticity. But I'm not doing it to gain a following. I feel more liberated when I'm sharing more about myself. I feel like that's something a lot of photographers don't do.
As for the visuals, I think the theme of my Instagram journey has been constantly pushing myself. Asking what's next? What's new? How can I step up my stuff?
Q: Everyone presents their best work and a perfect life on Instagram, how do you deal with feelings of comparison?
A: It's really hard. We're all human so we're all prone to getting jealous or feeling inadequate. But at the end of the day, we just need to think about our purpose for using the platform. I could call it a day and never touch my Instagram again... But I don't.
No one really knows this, but the reason my Instagram bio says "Sup. This is a test." is to keep me accountable. It reminds me that I started my Instagram to challenge myself, not to compare myself to other creatives. I wanted to prove to myself that I can do this. If I ever feel intimidated, I look at that and remember where I was when I began, it reminds me why started.