“As artists we live in the world we create, that world is how we see… Sometimes I think to myself, I’m lucky to live in that world.”—Ally Lindsay
Iceland, Paris, New York, LA, Miami. In less than five years, Ally Lindsay’s career as a freelance photographer has taken her to places she never imagined.
“My travel opportunities for work have been extraordinary,” said Lindsay. “I’ve been able to go to Paris Fashion Week twice, Icelandic Fashion Festival, Miami and LA a couple of times and I photographed a press tour all through the southern US which was a hoot! I feel so lucky to travel to all of these places, but the flip side is that it’s such hard work. And it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; it’s the real world out there.”
For the past year, Lindsay has been collaborating with The Standard Hotels in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles on their Instagram campaign. Specifically, she has been conceptualizing, prop styling and photographing for it. As part of another project, she photographed 68 images for a New York Times bestseller called Worn Stories. She and author Emily Spivack started photographing for the book a couple years ago. It can be found at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Urban Outfitters and independent book stores across the US. The project has been featured in The New York Times, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue and Elle among other popular publications.
“Every day is different,” said Lindsay. “I’m photographing some musicians (AlunaGeorge) for Teen Vogue tomorrow, and this weekend I’m collaborating with a Brooklyn floral company to make a quirky social media campaign complete with waffle ice cream cones as vases.”
While photographing such intriguing subjects is exciting, only a small portion of Lindsay’s time is actually spent on the photo shoot. Most of her time is spent arranging and attending various meetings with clients. Prior to the shoot, she gathers inspiration and creates mood boards for what she wants to capture, then after she spends a lot of time editing.
“The biggest challenge with freelancing is relying on yourself to get everything done and find your next clients,” she said. “But I’ve learned that with enough passion, drive and self-motivation, you can accomplish anything. Talent is only a tiny piece of success. It takes motivation and a sort of blind ambition. You can’t think you’ll fail, because then you will.
“My greatest accomplishment has been not giving up on my dream and using my resources wisely. It’s really difficult to do what you love for a living because in the beginning you definitely aren’t getting paid enough and living in NYC is so expensive. The beginning of your career lasts a lot longer than you expect it to!”
While Lindsay admits it takes a lot of hard work and determination to compete in field of fashion photography, she was prepared to meet this challenge head on.
“The structure of the education I received at CCS really prepared me for what it’s like in the real world.”
“I developed the technical skills I needed competitive photography jobs in the current job market and was given the creative freedom to discover what kind of artist I am. From learning dark room photography classes to alternative processes to studio lighting and color-correcting—really understanding how an image is created within the camera and on paper is priceless.
“Sometimes I even hear my mentors’ voices from CCS ring inside my head as I work. For example, the late John Miatovich used to say to us, ‘You should want to lick and bite and eat the image!’ That statement has always made me feel like I should be creating something delicious for the viewer. If it isn’t making the viewer stop and want it, it isn’t worth it.
“I would like to share one piece of advice with students pursuing this field. There are millions of photographers in the world who want the same jobs you want, but there is only one you. Put your personality in to your work. Stay true to yourself and your aesthetic vision. It’s also critical that you get an internship—or four! I had quite a few, some in Detroit and a few in NYC. Your professors can help connect you.”
In addition to photography, Lindsay is currently working on a personal project called Nail Polish Desserts, which has already shown at a gallery in Manhattan. She uses nail polish to paint miniature desserts that have been requested of her through Instagram. Nail polish manufacturer Essie sponsors this project by supplying her with nail polish. She has also been creating celebratory installations based on a given theme. So far, they have been in two different gallery shows, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.
“My long-term goals are to start a creative agency focusing on social media campaigns,” said Lindsay. “My experience has taught me that social media campaigns are the most creative and lucrative outlet for photographers. It gives us more control with creative direction, prop styling and making the image itself. I’m creating an ‘agency’ to collaborate more freely with my talented, fellow creatives. My company, The French Fry, will be launched in the next few months.”
To view more of Ally Lindsay’s work, visit http://allylindsay.com.