Most artists dream about being discovered by a celebrity, instantly catapulting them to success and stardom. Few actually experience it. But believe it or not, it happened to a young, unsuspecting photographer who was sought out on Flickr by one of the most popular bands on the planet.
"Photography was really just a hobby for me," Rosie Hardy tells us in the accompanying video. "Never really in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be discovered by Maroon 5 and it would launch an entire new life for me. I still can’t believe it has happened!"
Four years ago, Rosie was just an average teenager from Manchester, England. She initially got into photography for reasons most girls her age would understand.
"It was all a very cliché experience," Rosie admits. "I was a fifteen year-old girl, and I really wanted a pretty My Space picture to make the guy I had a crush on fancy me. So I did with a little point-and-shoot camera. But what started off as taking pictures of myself turned into me going outside, getting adventurous and really loving it. I posted them on Flickr and started getting great feedback."
After some time, Rosie began to take her photography more seriously. She became inspired by both famous photographers in magazines and those she followed on Flickr. Rosie pre-produced her shoots, scouted locations and explored different styles. Soon her work evolved to become a mix of conceptual photography, but on a very human level. This got the attention of a select few, and she slowly began to book local clients and gigs.
"Eventually people started to trust me," Rosie says. "So when I asked them to get into a puddle of mud, people thought it was normal! I was not only proud of my work, but it was fun! So it’s all been a very interesting journey… although it all changed when I turned 19, and I never looked back after that!"
In 2010, Maroon 5 was set to release their newest album "Hands All Over", but they had a problem. The band did not have a picture for their album cover. The management team feverishly hit the Internet, using the search words "Hands All Over" and immediately came across a doodle-turned-portrait on Rosie’s Flickr page.
"They really liked the concept," Rosie explains. "So they contacted me and asked if I could redo it, but in a more sexy way for the band. At first, I didn’t believe them, and I thought it was an Internet troll. You know, trolling at his best. I figured they were just trying to trip me up, so he could publish my response on Reddit for the entire world to see!"
"But when I got contacted again, I realized this was legit," Rosie says. "So I started to follow through and see what I could do."
Rosie jumped on her parents’ bed and took several self-portraits. She posed with her hands going everywhere: hands in her hair, hands in the sky, you name it. She edited it all together and sent it back to the Maroon 5 team. Their response was one she never expected.
"They took a look at it and said, ‘Right, we’re happy with this. No other model needed. It’s going to be you on the cover’," Rosie says. "I couldn’t believe it. I pretty much fell off my chair when I realized that it was actually happening!”
Not only was her photo on the cover of the album, but it also appeared on billboards and buses across the globe. On Facebook, her friends began tagging her in pictures of posters and signs of the album cover in different cities. The instant, overnight success completely opened Rosie’s career to a level she never thought was possible. Major clients reached out to her, and she began working on many different projects. It was a dream come true.
"I would say for my future, I would love, love, love to be the kind of future Annie Leibovitz of photography," Rosie admits. "I would love to shoot celebrities, take their stereotypes and create amazing pictures that no one has seen or thought of to do before. But at the same time, for me, I just love photography. And that is still there. The 19-year-old girl, the 16-year-old girl, who loved taking pictures, that’s still me."
Rosie says Flickr completely changed her, not just her photographic career, but as a person. "I grew up being inspired by people and having people support me," she says. "That confidence means so much, and I am so grateful."
Her advice to aspiring photographers:
"Let inspiration inspire you and take every opportunity," Rosie says. "It doesn’t matter whether it’s something big or small, but it will lead somewhere as long as you try hard and do a good job. And have fun doing it! It’s pointless to spend your life doing something that you don’t enjoy. As long as I’m shooting, as long as I’m taking pictures and asking people to climb into mud puddles, and painting my front driveway yellow, I’m happy. And I can’t wait to see what’s next!"
Visit Rosie’s photostream to see more of her photography.