Journal

Epson: Imagine!

There's one client that never fails to excite me when they reach out for event coverage, and that client is Epson. Whether working with the USA women's synchronized swim team or on holiday festivities, they always have creative and exciting ways to engage with their customers and always have events that highlight that inspired ingenuity. No less can be said about the most recent event I worked with them on, "Imagine," promoting some amazing new technologies that will undoubtedly revolutionize the industries they exist within. Whether creating new methods to print textiles in the fashion world or putting out the latest drone technology on the market, the event certainly lived up to its namesake, and in amazing technicolor fashion. And as a photographer, I certainly appreciated the chance to see what they've been cooking up in regards to the high-quality printers they've been developing (and I may have added one or two of them to my wish-list!). Here are some of my favorite shots from the event, and already looking forward to my next collaboration with the Epsonite crew!

Summer Sendoff: Musikfest 2016!

With summer's end comes one of my favorite bittersweet events - I love it as it's always a wonderful time full of fabulous food, great music, and unforgettable atmosphere, but with it comes a gentle sadness because it means fall is right around the corner, the last hurrah for warmer weather.

 I could only be referring to Musikfest, a 10-day festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that never fails to bring a wealth of free musical performances to the Lehigh Valley, and in my 27 years of enjoying life, I have yet to miss a single one (which is a record I fully intend to maintain as long as I can). There is always a plethora of unique and delicious food, not to mention some of the coolest cultural creations around (such as the stilt-walking street performer group Saurus, who dresses up like giant dinosaurs and gently terrorize festival-goers!). And of course we can't forget the amazing artisanal community that comes to sell their wares at the fest, from handmade soaps and looseleaf teas to homemade salsas and bonsai trees - you never know what cool gifts or souvenirs you might find!

This year I had the unique pleasure of working as a photographer for the festival, a goal I'd been working towards for several years, and an opportunity I was excited to finally take hold of. Not only did I get to photograph one of my favorite bands from the years of teenager-dom ( shoutout to Chevelle for being just as great live as they are in studio!), but I also was granted backstage access to shoot some of the festival's musical regulars like Scythian and March Fourth (who happen to be two of my personal favorites). 

These are some of my favorites that I think best encompass the vibe of this fabulous summer festival, & hope to see you there next year - I'm already counting down the days! 

Fashion editorial: Gwen Albers

2 or so years ago, I met the lovely actress/model Gwen Albers at an Indieworks screening (if you love short films, it's the perfect place, trust me - and there's one happening tonight!) and she has come to be one of my favorite kindred spirits in the city. She so thoroughly impressed me when I saw her fantastic performance in a short film there that I immediately sought her out after, and the rest is history. Fast forward to now, and I'm excited to share some photos from our first official collaboration (hopefully one of many to come!), which I'm happy to say is also some of my favorite new work!

We spent the day working our way through Brooklyn, taking advantage of its fantastic street art, beautiful parks, and impressive architecture - a perfect hyper-saturated representation of New York City's creative culture. We roamed from the Williamsburg Bridge to Dumbo to Red Hook and everywhere in between, and had the most gorgeous sunset glow to work with during the golden hour (a photographer's dream!). Gwen was a natural in front of the camera, and her beautiful spirit inside and out definitely came through, which was wonderful to work with. Add in the beautiful clothing and pieces provided by Dutchess clothing, and I couldn't have asked for a better shoot that day, or better weather. Here are some of my favorites, and can't wait to shoot with Miss Gwen again!

Not Our Living Room: Now Online!

I'm very excited to share with you all that one of the films I worked on a few years ago is now streaming online! Not Our Living Room, a short film directed by Christina Raia of CongestedCat Productions, is as suspenseful as it was fun to work on, and I love how the final film turned out. Not only was the cast and crew fabulous, but I also got to reunite with one of my fellow Penn State Alums, Adam Jepsen, who I photographed back in our college days! His costar is played by the talented Rob Ceriello, another stellar actor I've worked with over the last few years (and who has been a wonderful test model for me!). Not Our Living Room's screened at a variety of festivals, but will also be showing at the Macabre Faire Film Festival in January if you want to see it on a bigger screen!

But for those of you who can't wait until January to see it, Not Our Living Room is now available on vimeo here - check it out!


And in case you missed it, here are some of my favorite behind-the-scenes moments from on set; what an amazing and talented group of people to work with!

New Work: SleepyTownCorporateAmerica

Water. Our most valuable resource and the one we take most for granted. Very rarely are we confronted with the concept of what life would be like without water; the occasional power outage, a weekend camping trip, an excursion to a Third World nation. But in the comfort of our American consumerist society, it’s quite easy to forget how irreplaceable water would be in our lives, from taking showers to watering a garden, from cooking and cleaning to brushing our teeth to caring for our beloved pets. To have contaminated water, or no access to water at all, seems almost unimaginable. But for the residents of one small Pennsylvania community, the risks of this reality are all too real and one they presently face.

Kunkletown, Pennsylvania is the picturesque vision of what you’d call a rural town: it takes you roughly 5 minutes to drive from one end of town to the other, the hoppin’ spot is the local general store, and the church bells chime every Sunday on the hour, every hour. As beautiful as it is flawed, vulnerable as it is tough; where what some would call naivety, the residents would call trust.

Nestlé, silent as the night, crept into this community, approaching one Kunkletown resident, Rick Gower, with a proposal for his property’s usage. In the shadows, corporate officers negotiated to drill on Mr. Gower’s land to access the 30-mile-wide aquifer that supplies the entire town’s water supply and to extract and bottle water for Nestlé’s corporate profit. Having arrived at a mutually beneficial agreement between company and individual, Mr. Gower began strategizing how to alter the zoning ordinance in a manner that would reclassify water extraction. This bureaucratic change would allow Nestlé to extract water from his property, bypassing the fact that extracting on his property was considered a commercial activity not permitted under the township’s zoning laws.

It was the summer of 2015 when Nestlé’s endeavors began to come to light. Donna Borger Deihl, a life-long resident of Kunkletown and an outspoken advocate for her community, first noticed something amiss when she saw surveyor’s stakes well inside her property borders when Nestlé began marking the boundaries of Gower’s property. They did this to her brother Doug as well, who happens to live next door. “They had the stakes actually up here in our yard, and all they told us was that they were reference stakes. Which, I understand how surveying is, they may have been reference stakes, but the point where we were at, with Nestlé and Rick, it kinda comes down to 'stay the hell off our property'...So I took them up [the stakes] and I threw them right on Rick's porch...Here's your goddamn stakes back,” he stated as he showed us where the stakes had been placed along the two properties. They were found many feet inside her actual property lines, encroaching on their land and marking it as Nestlé’s. But this was just a mere sign of things to come as the corporate giant began its slow but steady intrusion into Kunkletown. Very soon after this incident, Mrs. Deihl discovered Nestlé was proposing to drill mere feet from her home - and extract over 200,00 gallons of water a day, with the possibility of up to 500,000 gallons a day.

There are several alarming aspects to this massive corporate enterprise put forth by Nestlé; the first of these being the decisions that essentially allowed one man’s potential personal profits put an entire town’s water supply at risk. After reviewing hundreds of emails, on-the-record statements, and various conversations/tapings of town hall meetings, it becomes quite evident that Kunkletown is exactly the type of place that Nestlé seems to target in its pattern of water extraction locations. The area is somewhat removed from society, isolated and rural, with low population density and had local politicians who might be able to manipulate the regional governance. 

It was a perfect storm of conditions in the worst way and magnitude possible, and a grave danger to all the residents of this small town. And with such a corporate Goliath (Nestlé has over sixty different water brands, including the ever-popular Poland Spring, Deer Park, Perrier, and Aqua Panna) pursuing a future that many residents felt is to their disadvantage, many are preparing and learning how to fight and protect themselves from such an industry giant.

While several hydrogeologists have confirmed that Nestlé’s water extraction would most likely not drain the entire aquifer (which is replenished naturally through water recharge), it would potentially drain the region’s water discharge (which supplies rivers, lakes, and most importantly, citizens’ wells). Should that occur, residents throughout the town would need to drill new wells, which is at least a several thousands of dollars expense that many Kunkletown townsfolk can’t afford, and the risk runs high as the area has a great deal of shallow wells. A community without access to water is one that faces higher cost of living while watching its property values diminish, and has to live with intolerably increased tension in its residents’ daily lives.

As someone who grew up in Kunkletown, and knows firsthand how naturally beautiful and peaceful this area is, it breaks my heart to see neighbors turn to enemies in this bitter battle to protect both their livelihoods and land. Vandalism and aggression have run rampant, from spray-painting anti-Nestlé protestors’ cars in the dead of night to mysterious explosions occurring near the drill site. The nature of Kunkletown’s community and structure has been fundamentally altered in the wake of Nestlé’s presence. Decisions made by a select few local leaders, some of whom potentially stood to gain financially from the arrangement, are now effecting the entire population. 

With a legal battle looming, pitting a town of limited resources against an international corporate monolith, these deals and makeshift politics highlight the dangers we face in our own backyards. Soon, even our status as Americans might not save us from a fate faced by the less fortunate the world over; it hasn’t saved my community. For those not as familiar with the practices of the bottled water industry, there is an undeniable lack of transparency when it comes to their water extraction methods, and communities throughout the United States, from Maine to California, are slowly falling victim to an extraordinary level of corporate greed. 

My Fashion Photography Challenge!

A few months ago, I had a fun but unusual writing assignment for a photography blog. They gave me the challenge of creating a fashion shoot on a $200 budget, the goal being to emphasize the ability to produce quality imagery on any price point. While it was definitely a tricky assignment, it also proved to be both engaging and entertaining in unexpected ways, and was a nice way to shake up my typical photographic approach. 

Selecting all the equipment you would need (including lighting) with only $200 to spend is a near impossible task, but I eventually elected on a metal backdrop setup, a muslin backdrop, and a continuous light source. While not ideal, it fit the parameters of the assignment well, especially given the high price tags associated with strobes or speedlights. The continuous light was not as bright as I'd hoped, but given the brand I had to use and the price point I was restrained by, I could only set expectation so high. 

Several of my wonderful actor friends were more than happy to be my test models, and I am pretty impressed with what a solid job all of them did; it certainly made my job easier! While it was supposed to be a challenge, it certainly allowed me to focus on making the setup work rather than purely focusing on posing, which was a welcome change of pace. We of course treated the shoot with the utmost level of professionalism, but that doesn't mean somem fun outtakes with stuffed animals and balloons weren't to be had as well. A big thank you to all of my friends who helped me out with their fantastic modeling skills (Lauren A. Kennedy, Rob Ceriello, Shannon Terrel, and Neil Brown) and can't wait to see what the next assignment brings!

24 Hour Film Race: Growing Over You

If you've followed my work at all, you know I love when I get to be the set photographer for film projects, no matter how big or how small. There's something very magical and unifying about working with a film crew, and inevitably the people you work with become an extension of your ever-growing film family. That's why the 24 hour film race is something I look forward to every year, and last year's was by far our best one yet.

If you aren't familiar with how a film race works, the concept is this: write, shoot and edit a film with several requirements (a specific line of dialogue, a chosen prop, and a theme) that are announced at the start of the competition. Given that all this would normally take weeks or months to complete, it's quite the ambitious undertaking. Despite the rigorous schedule, it's always fun and inspiring, and often brings out the best of our creative abilities. 

We may be exhausted at the end of it all, but it's the most fun I've ever had intentionally working myself to the bone and combating the sleep that threatens to invade. Many cups of coffee and red bulls later, I never cease to be amazed by what we've pulled off and how we've managed to bring it all together, and I think that's why I love it so much. Sometimes you need to do the work for the love of it and nothing else, and being able to focus on creating beautiful imagery without working through client concerns or deadlines or bottom lines is a much needed rejuvenating process as an artist. 

Headshots: Tommy Juliano

Back in the fall, one of the actors I had the pleasure of working with on Six Windows, Tommy Juliano, asked me to hook him up with some updated headshots. We had hit it off really well on set, and he easily gave one of my favorite performances from he project, so I was more than happy to oblige! 

Tommy is one of those very versatile actors with boundless energy and unbridled enthusiasm for his work, which is a large part of why I loved working with him. I wanted to make sure we captured that element in his images, and as he was showing me the various wardrobe options, I began to associate the outfits we selected with certain character archetypes; thus the approach for this shoot was born.

We traversed from the cute neighbor to the bad boy, the jerk jock to the suited up douche, back to the charmer and maybe even the hint of a villain. After spending the whole afternoon shooting (albeit a great deal of that was purely spent laughing), I couldn't be happier with the results. Here are some of my favorites from the day, hope you like them as much as I do!

Drama League Centennial Gala: Bernadette Peters

A few months ago I had the distinct pleasure of working with The Drama League again at their annual Gala, also a night in honor of the Broadway star and immense talent, Bernadette Peters. This year’s Gala was also especially monumental, as it was the Drama League Centennial Gala, a huge achievement to mark in the world of non-profits, which is one of the reasons I love to help support them. 

As always, it was a night of lights and music, grand choruses and many smiles, a true testament to the life and vibrancy that can only come from live theatre. Not only did the likes of Michael Douglas, Joey Grey, and Gloria Estefan came out to support Ms. Peters lifetime of achievements, but the fabulously gifted (and one of my personal favorites) Annaleigh Ashford also sang with an adorable pup in tow; what more could you ask of a show?!

It was without a doubt a moving night for Ms. Peters, who may have shed a tear or two while giving her thanks at the end of the evening. Many words of praise were said that night for her, and every one was without a doubt deserved. Congratulations Bernadette, and thanks for the worlds you brought to life, both on stage and on screen.

Delicious Dishes: Tiny's & The Bar Upstairs

Back in October, I had the pleasure of trying my hand at food photography for Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs, a chic upscale restaurant located in the heart of Tribeca. They  needed some imagery of the fall additions to their menu, and I couldn’t have been more excited to work with them, as their food is as beautiful as it is delicious.. From scrumptious scallops to their homemade kit kat bar, it was easily my most delectable shoot to date, and who can deny the best part; getting to enjoy all the dishes once we finished taking the photos!

Below are some of my favorites from the shoot, and looking forward to their next menu revamp!

Epson Campaign: #SwimmingInInk !

Back in September, I had the wonderful pleasure of working with Epson America and the Women's U.S. Synchronized Swim team on the campaign for their new line of EcoTank printers, and it was easily one of my favorite jobs to date. From start to finish it was a grand production, as Epson built a giant swimming pool  in the middle of Times Square overnight for the swim team to perform several routines in, as well as a large step & repeat to have your photograph taken with the team. I was fortunate enough to be contracted as their step & repeat photographer, and while it was a very intense day, it was an amazing blast and I had such a wonderful group of people to work with. If you want to see a little bit more of what the day was like, you can check it out in this awesome behind-the-scenes video!

The swimmers were so sweet from start to finish, I don't know where they found their immense stamina and energy to keep swimming and posing all day long! Below are some of my favorites from the shoot, I love how much personality everyone brought and how much fun we all had. From Broadway performers to Comic Book Superheroes to Disney Princesses, we had a great turnout and many memories to keep after. And good luck to the synchronized swim team on their upcoming olympic trials!

Headshots: Taran Muller

I may have only completed half of my college education at Penn State University, but while I was there, I met many wonderful people along the way. Needless to say I was thrilled when my friend (and costume design extraordinaire!) Taran Muller Zackrison contacted me about getting her some updated headshots! We could not have hoped for better weather, and the time of year worked perfectly in our favor by providing vibrant colors from the tail end of summer. 

I couldn't wait to photograph Taran, as she has one of those infectious smiles and a wonderful personality that never fails to shine through. I wanted to make sure both of those elements came through in our session, and I think that second image really fits the bill. Plus she's got some unbelievably killer eyes that matched her scarf beautifully, which only helped make my job a breeze. While I love doing more complicated setups, getting back to basics with just me, my subject, and a reflector was a welcome return to traditional techniques, and goes to show that sometimes the simplest is the sweetest. I love how Taran's images turned out, and am already looking forward to when she needs them updated!

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NYFW: Verge

Last month, I had the pleasure of working with Posture Magazine, DapperQ, Bklyn Boihood, DYDH productions, and Fascinate Media for their New York Fashion Week show, which was the largest exhibition of queer fashion designers during NYFW 2015. I can't even begin to convey how ecstatic I am that I was able to be part of such a progressive and culturally-necessary show, and I think their unique edge definitely shows in the photos.

Not only was it a huge night for the LGBTQ community, but also an amazing night of spectacular fashion, whether it was found on the runway or in the audience. The show featured the amazing talents of Elliott Sailors, Rain Dove, Harmony Boucher, and Margaux Simms walking the runway in support of the event, and they looked absolutely spectacular. It was truly inspiring to see such a show take center stage, and am so proud of the attention it brought to such an underrepresented part of the community.

I had so much fun photographing all of the guests and models that night, and thought everyone had stunning outfits that were seriously on-point. Below are some of my favorites from the night, but the full selection of images can be found on my Facebook page. Hope you enjoy their looks as much as I do!

Today's Event: Contest Judge!

Today will be a new and very different kind of venture than my usual photographic endeavors; I will be judging Adorama's Next Top Fashion Photographer contest! I can't wait to see what kind of images the contest entrants produce, though I am a little nervous too, as I've never judged a contest before. I'm grateful to embark on this new territory however, and hopefully I will do the judging process justice. Below are the 2 finalists' [L (L) and Ron Specs (R), respectively] work from Part One of the contest:

The event starts at 5pm, and you can register for the event here. Unfortunately the entry process is already closed, as I will be judging the two finalists from part one of the contest (today is part 2 to select the overall winner), but I hope to see you come out and support the final contestants (and myself as well)!

Headshots: Tracy Willet

My beautiful and supremely talented friend Tracy Willet and I had been trying to get her headshots done for a while, but life just kept interfering with even the best of laid plans. A few months ago however, we finally found a day that worked for both our schedules, and I must say, it was worth the wait!

We not only were blessed with some beautiful weather (unseasonably warm for the beginning of April), but also got to sit down and catch up over a cup of coffee after we finished shooting, so all in all,  it was a great shoot. 

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I always love getting to do environmental headshots, to me they feel more personable and relatable than studio work (though studio work is undeniably beautiful). The natural golden tones of the late morning perfectly accented Tracy's gorgeous features and I am overjoyed at how they turned out. She is a phenomenal actress, and I hope that these photos can in some small way help her get cast, because the world deserves to see her talent!


Featured on: Lady Guns Global!

I know it's been a few weeks since I posted here; big and exciting things have been happening! One of these recent positive developments was inclusion on Lady Guns Global, a movement recognizing talented, driven women from across the globe, working in a variety of fields with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be nominated to such an esteemed and prestigious group of women, and it is such an immense honor to be included in their ranks.

Not only did this wonderful opportunity allow me to share my photography on a more public platform, but it also gave me a chance to discuss several other passions of mine, including civil rights issues, environmental issues, and mental health stigmas. It was a refreshingly pleasant opportunity to talk about my photographic pursuits in relation to my personal interests, as well as some of the other inspirational women I've had the honor of knowing, important aspects of my life I don't often get to delve into. From start to finish, working with LGG on this interview was an immense pleasure, and I can't wait to see how it continues to grow and build steam. As a strong believer in the importance of women helping other women, I could not be more proud to be a part of such an incredible movement, and greatly appreciate the opportunity to be a small part of it.

You can read my interview here, and please be sure to check out all of the other amazing and incredible women on Lady Guns Global!

Source: http://www.ladygunsglobal.com

Ariana + Dave: Mother Nature Maternity

This year's 4th of July was extra special for me, as I was lucky enough to photograph our family's first pregnancy in a very long time! My beautiful cousins Ariana and Dave are expecting their first baby in September, and I can't wait to meet him (yes, it's a boy!); there's even a good chance his birthday might fall on either mine (the 27th) or my cousin Sophia (the 16th), which would be a fun family coincidence.

Ari has been like a big sister over the last few years, especially when I made the big move to New York City (she was already a veteran transplant New Yorker by then); she taught me the ways of subway navigation, avoiding the bed bug  plagues, and the key to a perfect resume. Without her, I'm not sure I would have survived my first year in the big city, and am thrilled to be there and return the favor as best I can once our newest family member arrives.

When Ari and Dave asked me to do their maternity photos, I was over the moon with excitement. I knew it would be much more my kind of shoot, as Ari, graphic designer by trade, and has a strong personal aesthetic that I knew would blend beautifully with my style as a photographer. She wanted something much more back to basics, with a mother earthy kind of vibe. We chose to shoot in New Jersey, near Dave's family, and I couldn't have asked for a better location. There were picturesque fields, beautiful bridges, and romantic park paths, perfect for our maternity shoot. 

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While we may have treated the shoot as professionally as possible, we couldn't help but get a little goofy. As career oriented as this power couple is, they know how to have fun, and their playfulness was a wonderful addition to the time we spent shooting. While none of the more silly photos made it into the final selection, this is one of my favorite outtakes of the day.

Not only was it a great day for producing some fabulous images, it also was a lovely excuse to spend time with the rest of the family I don't get to see as often as I like. My beautiful cousin Sophia was a wonderful makeup artist, while Jay was the perfect photo assistant. I even let him rock my spare camera for a little while to get some behind the scenes shots for me. Dare I say he's beginning to develop a photographic eye!

Overall, it was a wonderful day I got to spend with family and friends, and I wouldn't trade that afternoon for the world. It was easily one of my favorite memories this summer, and I can't wait to meet the newest addition of our family come this fall. I couldn't be happier for Ari and Dave to expand their sweet family as Pico, the sweetest of pups, will make a perfectly protective big brother (he was also a great poser when it came to taking the family photo!). Below are some of ones that made the final cut, I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do! 

Music for Minors: JazzReach!

A few weeks ago I was approached in regards to photographing a concert for JazzReach, a non-profit that aims to promote, perform and teach jazz music to young audiences. As a flautist myself, and an avid supporter of the arts, I was thrilled to be asked to document one of their performances. Not only did they perform some pretty spectacular jazz for their young viewers, but the kids themselves were really enthusiastic and excited, so it was a blast to photograph! I don't get to do 'concert photography' as often as I'd like, so it was a welcome change of pace, and the performers were supremely professional, not to mention some of the sweetest musicians I've come to meet. While I may have committed my career to the visual arts, performing music was also an instrumental aspect of my development in my high school days, and I am proud and ecstatic to see such a program providing those same opportunities to children today. You can support their important work here, and I would encourage educators to look into this program for their young students!

Seeing Double: An Adorama Article

About a month ago, I was asked to write an article on the concept and process of working with double exposures, both in camera and digitally through Photoshop. It was quite a challenge to determine how best to articulate what my process was, since double exposures by their nature are so experimental and versatile. But I think given the abstract nature of the subject matter, I wrote an article that could help emerging and new photographers begin to explore the concept of multiple exposure images. It was a little tricky to write, as most of my Natura work is a little too provocative to use in an article so targeted towards a general audience (alas, the fine art nudity was the unfortunate blow), but in the end, I'm very happy with the images I created to accompany the article. Below is one of my favorites, from a senior portraits session with my wonderful firecracker of a friend, Mina, who I have no doubt will take the world by storm one day.

© Alyssa Meadows

© Alyssa Meadows

If you want to see the article on the Adorama site itself, feel free to check it out here! There may or may not be a few friendly and familiar faces featured on there, as I had to create more digital examples of the photoshopped technique. Overall, I'm happy that I was able to write an article that may help others within the photography community, as it never hurts to lend a helping hand to fellow peers; if there's one thing I've learned after 2 years here in New York City, it's that everything seems to fall in place when you work together to create something special. 

Personal: Our 'Staycation'

Last week, my partner and I went back to basics with a 'staycation' in the Poconos for some much needed rest and relaxation. Not only was it a greatly appreciated break from the constant hustle and bustle of the city, but also served quite well as an excuse to hike/location scout more potential spots to work on my Natura series. It was lovely to get back into the vibrant and incomparable lush green of the forest, and the misty, cloudy forecast made it easy to capture some really great images. I'm not sure if there's anything I love more than being out in nature with nothing other than my camera and my partner/photo assistant, and this trip was exactly what I needed to get my creativity gears grinding again. It's easy to get burned out in the city that never sleeps, so I was immeasurably grateful for a long week of unwinding, and I think I found some really spectacular locations to shoot next. Hope I get to go back out into the forest soon!