Photographer: Hana Lily Caruso

Hana Lily Caruso


New Zealand

State / Region




Born in Colorado, but raised in New Zealand, I've been lucky enough to travel to many places for someone of my age. As such, I've always have had a deeply ingrained interest in people and their stories. I think this is partly what inspired me to study Psychology at university.

Even now, I still get excited at the notion and reality that each person is living a life as complex and intricate as my own - with their secrets, desires, sadness, loves and struggles. Every person I meet or pass on the street has a story, and I feel that photography is a way to share that without having to speak the same language. You can capture an entire lifetime in a single photo.

I started taking pictures in my travels, trying to document emotions and moments - feelings of balmy evenings on white sand beaches, the smell of fresh pine trees on a hot summer day, the deafening silence of sunrise on an island lovers paradise. These senses are what inspired me to pick up a camera and learn to shoot. People's faces and stories are what motivates me to keep learning to be better.

I am self-taught and have a knack for finding the perfect candid shot. Portraits are my thing as well and am currently working on a personal project that will be incorporating a range of images from those nearest and dearest - a photo essay if you like - a self-portrait.

Our readers would love to get to know you more Hana Lily. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you, your brand or the services you offer?

The best part about looking at a portrait (especially a close up) is that you can see every wrinkle, freckle, tear, scar and smile. These photographs tell you everything and nothing all at the same time. It lets your imagination take over and build an entire life behind the face - this is what drives me. Taking photos of people I do know, I try to capture what I know to be true. Taking pictures of those I don't, it's the same. Because you can never honestly see every part of someone's story, the only truth is that moment they look directly into the lens, and you capture the shot- the moment. That is what I aim to do. That is what Sonder Lily Photography is all about.

Hana Lily, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Photographer?

My passions in life - seeing beautiful places, capturing unique people and the moments that seem inane but mean everything when you look back on them. I would love to continue to work on projects to eventually be working as a photojournalist and travelling to capture portraits around the world. My love of travel is what started my interest in this area in the first place, seems fitting for it to be where I end up.

Who is your inspiration in life Hana Lily? How do you stay inspired as Photographer?

There are too many photographers to count and also none in particular that comes to mind. Even the most amateur of photographers can capture those sonder moments and feelings. Scrolling through inspirational blogs, Instagram and watching photography documentaries all keep me inspired - however, I find that my surroundings and people I love are what keeps me going. Amazing how you can take pictures of the same people and places but every photo tells a different story.

We all make mistakes Hana Lily; we wish we could take back. What was the error you made in the past that you want to you can bring back?

I am naturally a home-body, and there have been times during my travels where I want to stay in bed and watch Netflix. I regret the nights and days I did that - staying in rather than going out and watching the crazy nightlife in Bangkok or stargazing in Marlborough Sounds. Those are the moments that count.

Hana Lily, How do you describe yourself regarding working with clients?

I am an open and warm person - I am to make clients feel as comfortable as possible and think that building rapport with a client first is a great way of ensuring you're both on the same page regarding what they want.

Please tell us, Hana Lily, how do you prioritise work, social life, friends, and family?

We all have to work to live and at the moment photography, unfortunately, has to come second. I go to work each day - I do love my job - but on the weekends and evenings I'm lucky enough to spend it with my partner, our two cats and my camera.

Hana Lily, please give us an example of a time when you were able to persuade someone to see things your way at work successfully.

I work in a role where I have to persuade people to see things my way every day. I've found that the key to that, is first asking questions about their beliefs and situation - this is called -PREsuading. Once you know that, you can tailor your wording and tone to align with what they've said, but generally, they are more amenable to agreeing with you, except they think it's their idea!

I work in education and am fortunate enough to hear many people's stories each day - every conversation is one in which my end goal is to help them move forward in their training. My training in psychology and genuine interest in their situation means that we can build rapport quickly, and as such, I generally can persuade them to commit to our provider over others.

Hana Lily, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Photographer.

This happened recently actually - a boutique wedding blog that I follow here in New Zealand called Wild Hearts posted an article for a client I had. Every photo in there was one of mine! It's the biggest platform I have ever been published on which is inspiring.

Hana Lily, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or challenging about it?

As an amateur photographer, I am always creative with my work. Once I started fully understanding Lightroom and Photoshop, my pictures completely changed quality. Most of the clients I have to give me complete control over the editing process, which can be good and bad. I love the way they look most of the time. However, it can be difficult to know if the client will also love it.

What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Photographer?*


Just go shoot. The first and only thing you can do is take photos! Of anything and everything. Practice makes perfect and the more confident you are in your photos, the more likely people are going to notice. Also, submit them anywhere and everywhere!

Now for the best part Hana Lily! Please upload 5-10 photos so we can get to see your work.

Photo Credits:

Hana Lily Caruso