She’s so genuine and down to earth! I really got to know Ali during WPPI last year and it was a great time! During our time together in Vegas, Jill, Ali and I jokingly decided to do a fun styled shoot for Jill’s bridal portraits. We put a random date on the calendar and guess what! It HAPPENED! We made it work and we all met at Jill and Buddy’s farm last April! It was awesome and Ali is the BEST dog hearder I’ve ever seen!:) Ali has a fantastic style and I was so excited when she moved to VA! I’m still hoping for a double date sometime with her and her husband sometime! (Ali we need to make that happen! Ok? Ok!) So enjoy this little interview of December’s Feature Friday Photographer!! Have a GREAT weekend everyone!!
1. Who are you? Where are you located? And if you could have a $1000 giftcard to any store, what store would that be?
I’m Ali! Ali ‘B’ to my momma and grandma, but Ali Williamson to everyone else. I’m a wedding and portrait photographer based in central VA. I really struggled over this $1000 question. Would I want to decorate my apartment? Replace my wardrobe? Go on vacation? Maybe a little of it all… I’d want a $1000 gift card to the Charleston Farmer’s Market. I can’t help a good mixture of fresh food, jewelry, pottery, decor, and southern goodness all wrapped up in history and palm trees.
2. Tell us about your business! How did you get started? When did you fall in love with wedding photography?
I began my business July 2010. When I stared Alisandra Photography, I was totally in love with wedding photography, but shortly before that, I didn’t really feel as excited about it. I studied Public Relations and Music Industry at JMU. I was convinced I would be involved in the promotion/management aspect of the music industry. I graduated not wanting to move to NYC, Nashville, or LA and quickly dropped that idea, worked for a year, and began looking at wedding blogs for the photography. Second shooting weddings since my junior year at JMU, I knew I loved photography, and decided to attend CDIA in the Fall of 2009. Best decision I ever made. I blogged about my experience here. Anyway, one of the weeks focused on wedding photography. My eyes were opened to the branding, consistency, and general awesomeness that is Jasmine Star, Sarah Rhoads, Poser, and Ben Chrisman. I realized that I loved this stuff! Not just the photography, but the people, the love, and the decor as well. When I graduated, I had a few weddings booked and officially started Alisandra Photography! Now, I leave every wedding feeling so blessed to be able to do what I do.
3. Tell us about your all time favorite wedding that you have shot in the past! What did you love about it?
Charity and Chris. Hands down. And for so many reasons. I’ll just list them. 1. They made beautiful things out of a small budget, proving that it IS possible! 2. Location was at Marriot Ranch–and I LOVE anything horse related, so I immediately felt at home. 3. The sky changed a zillion times that day. It was sunny, it rained, it cleared up, and they got a DOUBLE RAINBOW. 4. They love the Lord. Anytime you see a couple who involves God so intimately in their relationship, you know it’s going to be an amazing wedding no matter how many details they have. 5. Charity has red hair. And I LOVE red hair [oh, hi Katelyn!] 6. They let me take photos of them in the rain. It was sunset, backlit, and raining. Photographer’s dream. 7. Lavender Infused Lemonade.
4. How did you decide on your branding?
I feel like this is an ever-evolving process, this Branding thing, and I could say a million things about how it is so frustrating to learn to just BE YOU. But practically, I had to start somewhere. I chose 3 words I wanted to convey in my work, how I relate to my clients, my packaging, and online presence. I based those words on my photography, the complements I’ve received, my wardrobe, my hobbies, and trends I saw within myself throughout the various aspects of life, and I came up with…. Relaxed | Romantic | Real. I needed something concrete to bounce ideas off of–if an idea doesn’t fall into one or more of those categories, I ditch it. I worked with Ashley Proffitt Designs for logo and paper design. I loved her invitation suites and her sense of design. SO modern, sweet and chic. Anyway, she put together some sketches and fonts and we had a logo! It is clean, but playful, and definitely relaxed. I love cool tones so the muted teal is perfect. So that is where I am now with this whole branding thing.
5. During your first year of business, what is one thing that you would have done differently?
I felt a ton of pressure to be a world known wedding photographer. The next J*. I wanted 1000 inquires. I wanted to be able to turn people down. To be this ideal wedding photographer I made up in my head. I compared myself to others, tried to mimic their editing techniques…UGH! It is hard living up to anyone’s expectations, let alone my own! This is what I would do differently: Draw up a vision. Draw up practical goals that will lead you onward toward that vision. And even then, draw up practical steps that will help you achieve those goals. There is no way I want to be the photographer I described. That was not my own vision. That is a mixture of what I think everyone else wants. Plus, none of that stuff is even practical for the way I’ve been called to live my life. So, in a round-a-bout way, I’d just start out more organized and confident about who I am, and the person I’m called to be. [So vague I know. Katelyn, these questions are what books are made of!] For those of you who are wrestling with this right now, I’d find a good friend and have a brainstorming session about you and your business, and talk about those things! Vision, Goals, and Steps!
6. What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
Is it taboo to say that it isn’t the bride and groom portraits? I mean, those are great for every reason people mention, but I love love love the getting ready part. I love seeing the transformation take place of a Miss to a future Mrs, no matter how chaotic seems. I show up, and there is this wide eyed girl in a button up getting her hair and make up put on. Nervous and excited, as preparations continue, she soon becomes this, well, BRIDE! I love showing brides the back of my camera right after they’ve finished getting ready because they always say, “OMGosh! I LOOK LIKE A BRIDE!” That’s my favorite. [And for the guys? So funny to watch them figure out how to fold those little pocket squares…]
7. List two goals you have for 2011! They can be as big as shoot a wedding in Fiji! Or as small as reorganize my craft closet! Haha.
2012 Goals. Ready go. 1. Improve my client experience. I have shot a number of weddings now, plus I’ve been a bride, so I have some ideas about how I’d like to improve the process… from inquiry to delivery. I just need a new year and new brides to implement them. 2. Fit into my “before I got married” clothes. This should not be considered a weight loss goal. It is a budgeting goal. As in, prevent a new wardrobe from entering the house and draining our pockets.
8. Who has been your biggest supporter and encourager for your business? Who is your cheerleader?
I have lots of supporters. I’d just say family in general. My husband Chad is a banker, so gets so excited to see the numbers involved in my business–such an encouragement. He also manages me financially. And that makes him MVP of Alisandra Photography. My parents gave me a 50 1.2 for my college graduation. And a camera for Christmas. And photography school. And… yes. They have supported me A LOT. Chad’s family is my #1 promoter. His mom shamelessly gives my name and business cards out and I love it! Family is so amazing!
9. How would you describe your style?!
Relaxed. Romantic. Real.
10. What inspires you?
I think all of my passions inspire each other. I LOVE the south–I feel alive and ready to create down there. As well as drink some sweet tea and eat some grits. I LOVE music–I did a whole photo project in school based on the Counting Crow’s song Colorblind. I’d love to photograph a bride who based their entire wedding on a song or album by their favorite musician. And I also LOVE God–He can inspire things from anywhere… hard times, fellowship, prayer… He is THE creator, so it would be in my best interest to grab some inspiration from Him!