ALYSSA ZUIDERVEEN

Today on the blog we are featuring an awesome girl boss lifestyle photographer Alyssa Zuiderveen.

Alyssa picked up her first camera at 8yrs old she then became obsessed with photography she loves traveling and advised us that we should remain humble and take advice from others that have been in business longer “great advice”Alyssa

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1. When and why did you become interested in photography? 

My parents are both fine art painters, so growing up, we visited a lot of art museums and galleries because that was their craft and passion. Around age 10 I realized that whenever I was around different art mediums, I was drawn to the photography in the room. I was the one in the family who would be begging to leave the renaissance paintings to find the Andy Warhol exhibit. I loved his bright colors and abstract take on classic photography, and learning about his art spiraled into wanting to devour knowledge on different types of photography.

2. What type of photography do you do ?

I love people, and have always loved working jobs that allowed me to interact with and get to know new people. Lifestyle photography is a relatively new trend, and it’s my absolute favorite subject to shoot. It is an honor and a joy for me to capture a real, raw moment of someone’s life and give them the memory to keep forever. I also do a bit of travel photography, and would love to expand on that.

3. Where did your creative spark begin ?

I was eight years old when my parents gave me my first little film camera, and I became obsessed with documenting every bit of my life. I remember setting a “studio” up in my bedroom with a bedsheet hanging as a backdrop, and our poor pet dachshund was my model; I dressed him up in baby doll dresses. I’m sorry Max. In highschool, I took film photography and darkroom classes at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Learning how to wield a 35mm camera and manipulate my images myself lit a passion in me that I knew I wanted to pursue as far as I could take it.

4. What inspires your creativity ?

My best ideas come to me when I’m exploring a new area. I love to travel, and taking in the colors and tastes of someplace new just opens my mind to all kinds of untapped possibilities.

5. Where do you live and how does it influence you? 

I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where everywhere you turn there is an amazing independant coffee shop, craft brewery, or artsy boutique, and they just thrive here because our local culture is so supportive of small business. I have found that towns that appreciate local business, generally appreciate art as well. Grand Rapids hosts one of the most respected international art competitions in the world, Art Prize, and thanks to the artists who paint amazing murals around town as part of that, I have endless options for vibrant photography settings. This city has my heart.

6. What did you overcome to be here now? 

I did photo journalism in college, and was lucky enough to have a really nice Dslr to use thanks to the college newspaper I worked for; after graduation, no more camera. I never wanted to set this passion aside, but when you’re young and freshly educated, society expects so much of you and your ability to be a realist. I started taking jobs for the sake of paying bills, and drifted further and further away from creative work because cameras are expensive, and I bought into the “practicality” pitfall of adulthood. It has taken me seven years, and so many frustrating jobs to get to the point of throwing in the hat on practicality and going for the dreams. I might not have taken the leap were it not for the support and encouragement of my amazing husband, whose only input when I was asking him if it was crazy for me to throw our hard-worked for income into something that had no guarantee of panning out was, “I believe in you.”

7. Do you keep a journal ?

Nope! I would love to be the journaling type, but I’m a verbal processor. My husband is my sounding board, and he hears all the crazy ideas, dreams, and self-doubts, and he helps me sort through the thought to gain clarity.

8. What type of equipment do you use ?

I use a Canon EOS 50D with a “nifty fifty,” AKA 50 mm fixed Canon lens. It’s an older model without as many bells and whistles as newer gear, but it’s a powerful little machine and I adore it. I was insanely blessed by a dear friend and fellow photographer who sold me the camera body for an awesome price and advised me on the best lens to grab to get the ball rolling.

9. What have you learned so far about business that you can share with others ?

Do not wait. If you have an impractical dream, GO FOR IT NOW. There is never going to be a “good time,” and you will always find reasons to put off taking the leap, but you can’t know how great it can be without actually trying. You’ve read my story, now know that in the first month of announcing my photography business (without even having a website up and running) I booked a month’s worth of clients. I’m still learning and have plenty of growing to do as an artist, but I’ve already had more success than I could’ve dreamed would happen so quickly. 

Also, be humble and ask for advice from those who have been in this longer than you. I thought I had to wait till I could afford a $3,000 camera, but one of the best photographers in my area told me to keep it simple and get going, which is why I’m where I am right now with it.

10. Where do you see yourself three years from now in your business? 

I see myself photographing lifestyle sessions for families and traveling often to photograph unique locations for my travel blog. Succeeding enough in this industry to work my business full-time from home (I currently part-time nanny on the side), set my own schedule, and encourage others to succeed in the same way.

11. What was the most exciting moment in your business journey ?

About a week ago when I had three photo shoot inquiries within 24 hours, only a month in to announcing my photography business! It was an incredible affirmation that I have chosen the right path, and encouragement to keep going.

12. How can people connect with you?

Find my portfolio and blog at http://www.alymay.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/alymayphoto

Instagram http://www.instagram.com/aly_cat

Pinterest pinterest.com/aly_cat


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