Photographer Alyssa Evans, of Lyss And Her Camera, grew up with a camera never far away and is now known for her beautiful, natural light, storytelling images. She specialises in (but is certainly not limited to) weddings and families. Alyssa tells us what it means to be a part of her clients’ lives at those special times, capturing their most important memories for them, and how that gives her such a strong connection with her local community.
Hi Alyssa. Tell us a little about your connection to the Coffs Coast?
I grew up out at Mullaway, moved away for uni and travel and returned here about eight years ago. I now have a family and am well and truly settled in Emerald Beach.
What’s your “back story” behind the lens … What inspired you to first pick up a camera?
To be honest, I’m not sure! My mum always had SLRs and lenses and camera bags and photography books etc. around the house. I loved to play with them whenever I got the chance. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have a camera of my own of some sort. I have a memory from when I was a little kid, maybe seven or eight, where I was experimenting with focusing my eyes on and through a screen and noticing depth of field and points of focus and just “getting” it. I loved the darkroom in high school; my aunt was a family portrait photographer at the Gold Coast, and I spent a lot of time with her as a teenager. I then went off to uni eager to learn all the technical stuff. At that time there was a Bach. of Photography at James Cook Uni, and it was all film and darkroom and very strict! I think it really set me up to be trained well and follow the rules. Then I went in the complete opposite direction and did a Bach. of Visual Art at Curtin University, where there were no rules and rules were for breaking! I guess I landed here in the middle of the two worlds.
How would you best describe your style of work?
I like to think of it as story-telling. I’m constantly working hard to move people towards natural. It can sometimes be hard to convince people that everything is beautiful just the way it is, if they just let me show them through my eyes.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Life, relationships, nature and LIGHT. Life is beautiful! Eye contact, physical connections, layers in an image and the light catching in leaves, hair and of course, the beautiful locations we are surrounded by in this area. We are very lucky!
You are known for your wedding photography; what are some of your other favourite things to capture?
When asked, I reply, “Weddings and Families”; however, perhaps like all regional photographers I truly end up doing a bit of everything! My heart belongs to story-telling of families and wedding days. I have lately noticed a new niche coming in of creating beautiful content for small business to use in their social media presence, which I’m really loving and hope to do more of. For example, a local (totally bodacious) café had me come in and just spend the morning hanging out while they did their thing on a typical day. They trusted me 100% and just let me do my thing, and I think we were both really happy with the outcome. I called it a “Café Story”. I’ve created content for a few other local small businesses and enjoy seeing it gradually coming through on their Instagram accounts.
What are some of the most memorable photos you have taken on the Coffs Coast and why?
My passion and true satisfaction comes from doing work for Heartfelt (please look it up! www.heartfelt.org.au). Being able to create beautiful images for a family in the short time they have with their baby is truly the most rewarding work I have ever done in my life. I hope that in future all families are given the opportunity to access this charity in their darkest hour.
I often develop a special relationship with my repeat clients and end up photographing them from before their wedding through to when they have had children and are in the midst of chaotic family life! Every new chapter in their lives that I get to be a small part of is memorable and really special; I feel honoured, and it makes me feel very connected to the community.
Coming from a film background, how have you seen photography change through the years? And where do you see it heading?
Well! I actually shot my first wedding on film and after vowed that I would never ever be a wedding photographer, as it was just way too stressful. The digital age means I can be confident and sure that I can deliver the images to the client that they expect. It also means I can sleep at night! I really love seeing things heading towards natural and documentary style. The first photography that ever really grabbed me was the work of Magnum photographers, and for a time I wanted to be a journalist. Film will always be The Magic, but digital frees us up to take more risks photographically while being less risky as a business owner, I suppose.
What personal projects have you been working on lately?
Unfortunately there is absolutely no time for that in my life! Sad but true. Perhaps that is typical 30s family/small business life though? I recently went on a family trip, that of course included a laptop and editing, but I took some personal photographs on my “real camera” while we were there (instead of my usual lazy iPhone snaps) … That’s about as close as I get these days!
What advice would you give to photographers who are starting out?
Your time is worth as much as anyone else’s! Photography can be deceptive … People only see the time when you are out shooting, smiling and interacting, but most of a photographer’s time is spent doing much less glamorous work. I think as a creative and perhaps a dream job for many it is often forgotten that it is still, at the end of the day, work. I cringe when I hear the saying “have the job you love and never work a day in your life”… I love my job; however, whoever coined that quote was obviously never very busy! I certainly work every day.
When you’re not shooting, what are you doing in your spare time?
Definitely no spare time available at the moment … But I have fond memories of earlier times in my life when I could read a book or spend lazy days at the beach surfing and looking for cowrie shells! I often daydream about having enough time to do regular mum things like cooking good family food and getting my crazy messy house in order! I get The Mummy Guilts a lot – always having to push everything else aside for work. I try to have a two week holiday in winter, and that is my happy place for sure.
Where can people see more of your work?
Instagram, Facebook and lyssandhercamera.com