I have met this gifted young woman, just once, however I view her amazing work on Facebook and check out her website often. Unusually I am going to have a photographer share with you in words, though of course there will be a few of her favourite images to see as well. Plus she has a special offer for you all….

Special offer for “A String of Pearls” readers – Mention this article for a free 11×14 inch print (valued at $150) when you book any photography session.

so let’s meet this weeks entrepreneurial woman: join me in seeing Alana’s view.

We join her in her home studio, where all the magic happens…

Alana, I think you are from Brisbane? We would love to learn a little of your background. Family education travel interests etc.

Born and raised in Brisbane, though I would say I really grew up against the background of some of the most exotic countries in the world. I have travelled extensively in many countries of the Middle East, South America, North America, Asia and some of Africa. I feel most alive when I’m out of my comfort zone, in a new and different environment. That’s just one reason why I love being a photographer so much, you constantly are thrown into new environments, new people, and all amidst an exciting event! Gives me that little adrenaline thrill every time.

My parents divorced when I was about 8 years old. It’s funny that despite that I’m the biggest romantic I know. Because I was so subject to not one, but several divorces in my upbringing, I clung to a belief that somehow I would meet the right person, and we would together beat all odds with our love! I’m very happy to say I did and am very happily married. Not only that, but I am able to celebrate love almost every weekend by capturing weddings. It has been a huge and positive influence in my life the last few years and I just adore all the inherent romance of the day!

When I finished high school I was completely torn as to whether I should pursue something creative or academic, as I felt passion for both. I was accepted into a very selective Fine Arts Film and Television Degree, so I decided to go with that while I was young and see where it took me! It was there that I took a subject in photography, which changed everything. Funnily enough I didn’t get very good marks at all! I think the course was more geared towards exhibition style photography, then the people-focused photography I would later specialize in.

When did you first realise you loved photography and why?  What camera do you use?

I don’t think I really realized how much I loved photography until several years after that university course. That course led to some other photographers offering me work on weekends as a second shooter. I then had camera envy and thought I could just do a wedding or two to pay if off… But upon my first professional wedding, editing my own images and seeing the final product come alive; I definitely wanted to do more! Not to mention I was having a ball setting up a little business page and really enjoyed that aspect as well. It was probably another year until I realized- this was the perfect career for me in every single way. I was filled with gratitude, as I felt that I didn’t really pursue this, but that I had been lead to this point and it couldn’t be more perfect for me. I’m a Mormon and truly believe God had a huge hand in leading me here. This job satisfies both my creative and academic needs, allows to occasionally travel, surrounds me with romance and love, gives me a perpetual challenge and great satisfaction when my clients are happy… Who could ask for more?

 I have two Canon 5D Mark ii’s, but only one is ‘my baby’ and the other is for my second photographers/ backup.

Please share the story of how you turned your passion into a business.

 As I mentioned, I was hoping to just pay off my camera. But in order for someone to trust myself with the most special day of their life, I needed to have my own portfolio, as when you second shoot for someone else, you’re not generally allowed to keep the images you take.

 So I took out two very good friends of mine and my handsome boyfriend (now husband of course!) for free shoots. I received great feedback from these shoots, as I was entering social media, not as a complete amateur, but with a couple years of second shooting behind me. I believe that was a big factor in receiving lots of initial attention, as so many people start their pages straight away as a complete amateur.

 A friend of mine so kindly trusted me to shoot their gorgeous wedding and the ball just kept rolling from there. All thanks to word of mouth and Facebook, I was soon working more than full time hours- sometimes 6 days and two nights!

 

What has been, for you, the greatest hurdle getting the business up and running? Professionally and personally.

 Professionally, it’s an incredible challenging industry. The average person doesn’t understand the behind-the-scenes costs and time involved and too many haven’t been exposed to the difference between Uncle Bob and a true professional. It’s a constant challenge to educate the public and to help them see the worth in investing in a talented, experienced professional to capture their memories.

 

Personally, as you would expect, having your own business has many challenges. And as much as I love the challenge, it can at times be frustrating or overwhelming. It’s hard sacrificing Saturdays when your husband works normal business hours, it can be overwhelming if you book one too many shoots and the editing pile stacks up, and it can be completely consuming to try to push your business above the competitive market. It’s also a lot of trial and error, you constantly learn or think of ways to improve. It’s also a constant battle not to invest ALL of your money into your business because of its potential return. One step at a time!

 

Is passion keeping you going, the original desire that got you started…how do you maintain that?

For me, shooting in a new beautiful environment really inspires and excites me, because I hope to get some amazing results. For this exact reason I am organizing a trip to Tasmania to do some shoots there, as Brisbane doesn’t have too many fields of poppies, tulips and wild flowers! So I’m just a little bit excited!! J

 

What do you ‘see’ when you photograph a family?

I see love. That’s what I try to capture. That’s why I often have families just interacting while I capture them from afar. I love to capture those relationships and the love between the people. I love watching the parents tickle or throw their children up in the air, and to just have the fun they experience so frequently in everyday life. I see memories are being formed right there and then and feel happy that are being captured to be re-lived for years to come.

What lesson, insight or wisdom would you share with a 40 year Alana?

Not too sure on this one!! I’m sure 40-year-old Alana will be much wiser then me! I hope I am still doing things that I love, like photography, travelling and exploring..

 

What matters most to you the journey or the destination?

 Journey. I LOVE photography and my business, so I’m enjoying every step of the way! Otherwise I would change careers. If you’re just in it for the money… well you probably won’t last the first few hiccups and set-backs… It’s too easy to feel like quitting when times are tough unless you really love what you do.

 

How do you measure success? Professionally and personally?

Professionally- I feel successful when I push my photography to the next level and recognize my own work is improving. I feel successful when a bride tears up at their viewing and thanks me sincerely. I feel successful when I come home from a shoot excited and happy, because I did my best and know it will show.

 Personally- I am successful when I show and feel gratitude everyday for this incredible job I have. Gratitude is happiness and when it comes down to it, I have success if I can afford to do a job everyday that I love and feel passionate about.

 

What would you best advice be to a women wanting to launch her own business?

 If they were in any sort of creative industry, I would have them read this quote! It’s so true. Don’t give up!

  “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Ira Glass

 

Generally, women are very entrepreneurial.  Any thoughts as to why?

I think women have an incredible capacity to feel and to be passionate about something. It’s that passion that drives our ambitions and helps us to create something new for ourselves.

Finally,

These are the famous 10 Questions from ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ slightly adapted.

 

1. What is your favourite word? Love

 

2. What is your least favourite word? At the moment- rain. 

 

3. What excites you? Caves, waterfalls and being out of my comfort zone.

 

4. What do families mean to you? Eternal love.

 

5. What sound do you love? Chocolate wrapper being opened.

 

6. What sound do you hate? Chalk on chalkboard. Hate it!!

 

7. Describe the city you live in. Brisbane is a great city… but it doesn’t’ have many naturally pretty spots!

 

8. What profession would you NOT like to do?

Accounting! J (My husband’s an accountant!)

 

9. Chocolate or not chocolate? Couldn’t read past the first word… YUM!

 

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I surely think it does and I hope I hear ‘welcome!’

Anything further you might like to add? Nope!

Alana, thank you so very much for sharing so much of your life and talent. 

If you are in Tasmania, Alana is headed your way very soon. Book through her website.

Alana Aston Photography

Visit Alana’s Facebook page