After travelling for the last few years, local Allysha Webber has planted her roots back in Port Macquarie, with a photography portfolio to be envious of and many a story to tell. FOCUS sat down with Allysha for a chat …
Give us a bit of background on your connection to Greater Port Macquarie …
My parents moved to Port Macquarie when I was a teenager, so I finished my HSC here in Port. I have spent a number of years living in different cities, and while I enjoy what cities have to offer, my time spent away from Port Macquarie has helped me realise it is here that I want to build a life for myself, as opposed to being a place I visit on vacation. I am fortunate enough to be in the situation professionally where I am employed as a freelancer, and do not need to be living in a major city to gain access to creative work.
How did you first discover your passion for photography, and when did you realise it was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
I have loved all things photography and film since I was a little girl making home videos with my friends. I attended film school in Sydney after completing a degree in Medical Science, as filmmaking had always been a pipe dream. It wasn’t until I released my graduate film, The Last Artist, which premiered at Chicago Film Festival and won the short animation category, and then went on to be selected for screening at more the 70 national and international film festivals, that I realised filmmaking/photography was not only a real, viable and tangible career opportunity that I was lucky enough to have at my fingertips, but also a career that I could make a comfortable living from.
You were offered to “Take Over” Federation Square’s Instagram for a week; what was that experience like?
My Instagram takeover at Federation Square was an incredible opportunity that exposed me to so many facets of Melbourne life and created a new network of like-minded professionals. I believe the experience pushed me, taught me and honed my photographic craft into a uniquely professional and yet still deeply personal expression.
It was also one of my first real paid gigs as a professional photographer, and as a result of an overwhelming amount of local support and interest in my work, it helped me gain confidence in my abilities. As a result of the exposure I garnered during the takeover I was invited to exhibit my photography in some very well established Melbourne art galleries, which was a very humbling experience.
This then led you to be offered a role as a freelance photographer for Shutterstock (wow, congrats!). How did this come about etc
Once my take over was complete, Federation Square shared my photos across all their social media platforms, including the oversize outdoor screens, which led to Melburnians and tourists seeking my work on social media. When I cracked the
10 k followers mark on Instagram, Shutterstock contacted me and invited me to submit a portfolio of work, which resulted in an incredible opportunity for myself to gain broader exposure as a photographer, as well as gain work with companies such as L’Oreal, Nestle, Purina and many other brands I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get a chance to work with.
What’s your favourite subject/style to photograph?
My interest in photography has always been in street photography, capturing the essence and life of cities and their inhabitants exactly as they are, flaws and beauty intertwined. I am fascinated by humankind’s complicated relationship with industrial expansion, and I’m naturally drawn to subjects and/or themes that express universal emotional experiences such as solitude, loneliness, hope, isolation and joy. I also love analogue photography and have access to my own darkroom, where I process and develop my own black and white film. I am an avid camera collector and love nothing more than to hunt down discontinued photographic film in order to breathe new life into vintage cameras. Constant experimentation, learning and change are necessary parts of my craft and are what sustain my passion.
You use a pixel stick in your photography; can you explain what this is and how you utilise it to gain special effects?
A pixel stick is a tool that is designed to aid photographers in creating light patterns and effects for light painted pictures. I absolutely love experimenting with photographic techniques and pushing my camera’s functions as far as they can go, with light painting having always been a basic technique in my photography ever since I learnt how to utilise it through experimenting with sparklers and glow sticks, just doing the usual swirls and writing names. The pixel stick has been a game changer for me, as it is such a powerful, consistent tool that I am able to utilise in my professional work.
The range of effects the pixel stick is capable of creating is literally endless, and it’s only limit is with the artist’s imagination. While the pixel stick is a fantastic tool, given the availability of high quality LED and other lighting products on the market for such a low price, I would urge all experimental photographers out there to create their own light wands for truly unique, non-replicable photography.
Where can our readers view your work and follow you?