If you told me before the summer of YPA 2014 where my career in photography would progress to in the space of two years, I would have never believed you. Much of my success can be attributed directly to the lessons learned and contacts earned from the program. I joined YPA about a year after moving to New York City in 2013, and at first it was a great forum to learn about the industry from established figures, such as my eventual mentors, Steve Giralt and Andrew Heatherington. Over time, I attended talks featuring a variety of photographers to learn from their experiences, and created friendships that have been both personally and professionally vital.
Following the conclusion of my mentorship year in 2014, I soon began an internship with David LaChapelle, who happened to be honored at the YPA Gala that year which was attended by members of my mentee group. The internship helped me further explore the business side of photography–which I learned is just as critical to the craft as shooting. I helped as a registrar, learning how to package artwork to ship for upcoming exhibitions, how to properly store and maintain prints without damaging them, and how to keep track of an artist’s massive inventory of works. This firsthand experience at such a prominent studio helped flesh out my resume and prepared me for the challenges to come.
At the conclusion of the internship, I applied for and landed my current job as a Photo Editor at People Magazine. The fast paced, deadline-oriented environment was definitely new and exciting, but I’ve become a faster editor and enhanced my ability to select strong imagery. I’ve come to rely on my fellow photographers and artist friends that I’ve made over the years to help balance the passionate intensity of work with continuing creativity.
As the sole editor for the magazine’s weekend shift, I’ve been able in my free time to work on independent films with friends and to develop personal projects, which is a blessing despite the inconvenient shifts. While working, I still maintain time to shoot professionally and continue to develop as an artist.
At YPA, I learned about many of the business pitfalls in photography, from setting correct expectations with clients, to negotiating contracts, and the importance of maintaining connections. The many workshops at Steve Giralt’s studio focusing on a variety of topics, from lighting, to assisting, to how to work with stylists, have proved invaluable on set.
Together, these lessons have kept me informed, engaged, and helped me book with clients such as Marvel/Netflix, Johnson & Johnson, and Epson. The highlight of this all came when seeing my images displayed throughout the billboards of Times Square during Epson’s Swimming in Ink campaign.
See more of Alyssa’s work on her website.