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Meet Bruin Beauty: Allison Park

Name: Allison Park

Instagram: @allisonparkk

Year: 2nd Year

Major: Psychobiology

Hometown: Orange County, CA

Instagram photographers have taken charge of how we experience our Instagram feed. With shooting fellow models, celebrities and influencers, photographers are able to create a kickstart on their photography following and marketing. Her Campus sat down with fellow UCLA Bruin Allison Park to discuss her passion for photography and how she networks with influencers as well as fellow UCLA Bruins.

Her Campus: When and how did you discover your passion for photography?

Allison Park: It was towards the end of my senior year of high school. I was putting together a fine arts portfolio for some colleges because I was interested in majoring in art and design at the time. So, when I was creating my portfolio I needed a few extra pieces and decided to try out photography. I did my first shoot and from that point onwards fell in love with photography, and even more so with the editing process. Then I was shooting friends in high school and it followed throughout college.

HC: Describe how your first photoshoot went.

AP: Oh my goodness, so long ago! I did my first shoot with one of my best friends, Noelle. She had never modeled before but I had just asked if she would be a part of this project with me. It was a shoot focused on a serious issue revolving around human trafficking. I had some original concept ideas that I wanted to try out based on inspirations from social media, but the idea was to create a more serious shoot. The first step of the process was gluing down her eyebrows...making it a super interesting look. I remember I had fishing wire, Christmas lights and other weird props. We just shot in my bedroom against my closet and in the bathtub. With the fishing wire, I remember we wrapped her face with it with the concept of "entrapment." This went along with the idea of human trafficking, really just hitting the surface of that theme. Obviously I didn't want to delve into it too deep because its something so serious, and something a conceptional, fun photoshoot can't capture. I just told her when and where to pose. I really had no experience with manual shooting. I really was just shooting on automatic mode and hoping one would turn out right. I wasn't too happy that my vision wasn't coming out into the shots, but when it came to editing for the pictures I felt I was able to correct and transform the photo into a creative piece of artwork.

HC: What vibe or style would you describe your photography?

AP: I think my style is always changing. I feel like it depends on the person I am shooting. When I take photos I want a huge part of the photo to be representative of the person I am shooting, the types of conversations we are having and the overall energy of the shoot. I guess my style right now is more dramatic, serious, with an artistic touch. It's really changing all the time.

HC: What kind of message do you hope to project through your photography?

AP: Wow, that's a good question. Honestly, I feel like there is a disconnect with the type of photography and message I am trying to send out and the photography I am currently taking. I really want the direction of my work to be focused on mental health awareness and emotion...really trying to capture people in a very vulnerable, in the moment state. I want my work to connect with people more than surface level, but on a deeper level where when they look at my photo they can relate to it in a way. If its the way that I edit the photo that creates some sort of comfort or nostalgia or even the model's facial expression, I just want it to hit a person in a deeper way rather than just "this image is pretty." I guess there is no one specific message, but just an emotional viewing of the image.

Grace Wethor

HC: Which photographers do you admire?

AP: Oh I have a lot. One of them is Damon Baker. He's one of my main artistic influences. He really pulled me away from the Instagram style of editing to more of one that invokes feeling. Another photographer I just started following, her name is Sequoia Ziff. Real artistic name. But basically she is a fine arts photographer and her style is very reflective of her artwork. Her images just look like pure artwork. And another photographer I really like is Rosie Mattheson. She just portrays people very realistically and is able to capture a real, simple moment yet with it being so powerful. She portrays people very realistically.

HC: Instagram photographers have become increasingly popular as time has progressed. What sets you apart from most photographers?

AP: I feel like it's just my own work. Instagram is really a platform to share artwork where you can find all different styles: fashion, photography. There really is just so much diversity in the photography content on Instagram. Especially among teens the typical, ideal Instagram photographers have bright colors and capture really beautiful photos that are overly retouched with Photoshop and Facetuning. I definitely started from a place where that was the work I created. I used to retouch the face a lot. Where now more recently I stopped all of that and started to create work that is authentic and represents all types of people and work that isn't created to paint a fake picture of reality. I don't want it to create a "picture perfect" photograph, which I feel a lot of people tend to associate with Instagram. I just want to create raw and real photos that carry a deeper connection.

Grace Wethor

HC: How do you find models to shoot? What catches your attention when looking for models to photograph?

AP: A lot of the models are my friends and I ask to take photos of them. More recently I've been reaching out to modeling agencies, which I like because it gives me creative freedom. But, I want to focus on taking pictures of everyday people at UCLA. Really taking my camera everywhere I go and asking random strangers if I can take their photo (which is scary, but I want to continue it more). This way I am able to capture the beauty of people who may seem "ordinary," but there is something so powerful in that. For other things, I just reach out to YouTubers through email based on if their Instagram and style are similar to mine. Most of the time that's not the case, just literally anyone.

Grace Wethor

HC: What was your favorite shoot?

AP: Ooh, I don't know. After every shoot I say, "this one is my favorite shoot." One of my favorite shoot experiences was with a friend at UCLA which was shot at Sunset Rec. Her name is Olivia and she was very comfortable and vulnerable in her modeling. I'm really into capturing really dramatic expressions like people screaming, weird body movements and contortions. Her energy when she is expressing herself posing is so authentic. Capturing that first-hand is something that is amazing. The adrenaline feeling while shooting and feeding off of others is something I can't describe. 

HC: What goal do you hope to achieve with your photography?

AP: I don't have a goal. It's more the experience of talking and hanging out with someone, people you may not even know, and just being open with them and vice versa. Hanging out with someone while they let their guard down and capturing that rawness is something I truly enjoy. I am really obsessed with the editing process. I could do it for ten hours straight and be so happy. My goal is really just to do it joyfully, and not feel like work. Also, it's to make everyone feel like they can be a model and feel beautiful in the photos that they are in. I feel like if you go through my Instagram feed right now, conventionally it's just pretty and attractive people with thinner and slimmer body types. And I feel like I want to shoot people of all sizes, genders, faces. I don't want a specific look to be the center of my work. Right now, that's what it has been. But that is a goal of mine and something I want to change. I also would love to combine my pre-med with art and create a form of therapeutic art.

Her Campus UCLA would like to thank Allison for chatting with us about her passion for photography! Be sure to check out her work on Instagram @allisonparkk