"My camera helps me capture fleeting moments of beauty, light, human expression and emotion and creates my visual poetry."
On becoming a photographer...
" May the beauty we love be what we do." ~ Rumi
I have been falling in love with photography in different ways since I was a teenager. However, my relationship with photography has not always been easy. I dropped out of my first photography class in college because my eyes kept glazing over as the instructor talked on and on about F-stops, reciprocity charts and flash ratios. My second photography teacher forbid his students to take any photographs of their pets. About the same time that I found Elliott Erwitt's book on dogs, I realized that I choose what to capture on film... and sometimes those moments capture me.
I became hopelessly in love with photography after my first darkroom class. An hour taking photos would seem like five minutes and a day developing prints would seem like an hour. I have never lost the initial excitement I felt when I first watched an image come to life in the developing tray... and in my teaching life watching students experience that same excitement is truly a joy. I have gone through a process where I initially overcame my bad attitude about digital photography and embraced it as another tool to use to express myself or a vision. Then, after shooting digital for 6 years I felt that something was missing and struggled to figure out what it was. I compared my relationship with photography to a marriage as I was concerned the passion of my work was evaporating. One day, I took my dogs for a hike and brought my toy twin lens Lubitel camera with a fresh roll of 120 film. As I walked through the woods, I experienced what I had unknowingly sacrificed and had been missing with digital. I found myself moving mindfully through the forest, observing more closely and carefully, and experiencing a sublime state of awareness. It was that walk that healed my relationship with photography and reminded me why I fell in love and chose it as my profession. So I went back to film...which felt like going back home. I shoot film when I am doing my own work and use digital for my commissioned work.
My biggest hurdle as a photographer in my thirties was to work on letting go of fear and sometimes that meant not being afraid to do the things my teachers told me not to! Like most photographers, I suffer over the photos I did not take.
Later on, I kept trying to figure out what my "subject area" was and I finally figured out that it's anything that my heart is drawn too... and when it comes to matters of the heart, I don’t want to ever limit myself.
I grew tired of photographing trees, rocks and mountains and when I ventured into wedding photography I felt something ignite in me that was drawn to the raw intensity of emotions at a wedding. My past experience as both a high school teacher and a counselor has given me a great foundation for this work. I love the multi-task nature and excitement (even the stress) of the wedding day. More often than not, a couple is under a moderate amount of stress from all the excitement. So, to be able to make it possible for a couple to re-live their wedding day, through their photographs, is rewarding for me.
I initially resisted photographing weddings. A friend reminded me that I once made the comment that I would never do wedding photography! The thought of it would conjure up heart shaped images of a bride and groom montaged inside a champagne glass! At the time, I was completely unaware of the creative potential in wedding photography. Then, 13 years ago I agreed to photograph a wedding for a young couple that I was unable to say no to. Within one year I had completely merged a fine art photography focus with wedding photography. In this process of applying art photography to wedding photography, I became hooked and have been ever since.
However, I do still love photographing trees, rocks, mountains...and the ocean.
"My goal is to capture the heart of a couple's wedding day."
I love my cameras. Actually, I'm obsessed with them - in a good way! They are the tools that make it possible for me to capture those moments in life I fall in love with... Moments that would be lost otherwise.
I work in 35mm format and these days I am primarily digital but I have not let go of my film cameras. My first camera, at 16, was a Rollei Rolleiflex single lens reflex which I go back to periodically to remind myself why I was so enamored with photography.
My professional cameras include the Canon EOS 5D Mark ll, the Contax G2 rangefinder (my absolute favorite wedding camera), the Mamiya 7 and 645AF as well as the Canon Digital Powershot and Canon D-1 that both have been modified for infrared capture. The plastic Holga camera is always in my camera bag as well on all my wedding shoots. I use the following Canon professional "L" lenses at all weddings: 2.8-16-35mm wide angle, 28-70mm, 70-200mm, 1:2-50mm, 14mm fisheye and 135mm 2.8 and 85mm 1:4 portrait lens.
My other cameras include the classic Polaroid 195, a variety of Polaroid 600s that I used to love to use with black and white film, which unfortunately Polaroid has discontinued. Even though I cannot find the film for these camera - I cannot throw them away. I also have more vintage SX70's(for time zero film) than I know what to do with, boxes of "toy" medium format cameras (the Holga and Diana) as well as other plastic disposables and underwater cameras which help me to "get out of the box" creatively speaking. I may need to hire one of those professional organizers who help you throw things away...
"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are. "
~ Ernst Haas
On photographing weddings...
My goal as a wedding photographer is to create photographs that capture the heart of a couple's wedding day. Every couple's wedding is human-unique. I am driven to express the hope and promise that are the essence of a couple's marriage celebration. Their celebration is reflected in a human-unique visual story. If someone gets tears in their eyes looking at their wedding photos then I have succeeded.
My photographic style is eclectic and combines fine-art, photojournalism and illustrative photography. My work style is improvisational, flexible, unobtrusive and client centered. I am not a high volume photographer and have no desire to be. It's crucial to me to be completely and absolutely present on someone's wedding day. I never schedule more than one wedding event in a weekend.
I also teach photography at the college level and in public and private schools. I continue to design and teach photography programs for "at risk" populations where people are encouraged to use photography as a tool for personal healing and growth. Having received received numerous photographic awards I continue to get my fine-art work "out there" through photography shows, exhibits and social media.
When I'm not involved with photography, I'm swimming, road biking, hiking, gardening, at the movies or hanging out with my dogs and friends in Northern California.
Thanks for visiting!
Allison Fairfield San Fransisco • Wine Country • Gold Country
Member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Professonal Photographers of California (PPC) and Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). Professional member of Profotos.com - All Photography. All the Time.