Student Hot Seat: Allison Turcotte
Come have a seat my dear. Where are you from?
I'm between Olympia and Tacoma in Washington.
All these northwesterners, I love it. Allison, gorgeous work. This is my favorite image of yours. I just, to me, that was like, and don't we all, it's all, it's just totally opinion. To me that was uh, just the pinks and the color harmony in there. And the intimacy of their embrace just really really got to me. Do you like that image?
What do you like about it?
I like the scene, the scenery. Almost opposite as Laurie was saying. I love vert, or horizontal images. I love the big picture. And this one just had the perfect balance of the backlight and I was able to balance it with the, just the lighting ending up being perfect.
For my style.
Just beautiful. Let's go ahead and look at the rest of your body of work here. Isn't this always just the most, I love the reveals, like when you bring forward everybody's images it's so cool. How, what, what feeling do you want you...
r work to portray? Or where do you shoot from? Or how do your images make you feel is I guess what.
How do my images make me feel?
When you look at this body of work, what words would you use to describe the feeling they evoke?
Love, adventure. There's one that I can't quite grasp that's on the tip of my tongue.
You have to start talking through it, it'll help you. And sometimes the word takes a minute to come, that's why I love my synonym finder. (laughing) Oh adventure, adventure, it's kind of it but not quite and I'll look up adventure in my synonym finder and then I'll see all these other different words and like oh yeah, that's the word. So don't be afraid to kind of talk about it and feel it.
I mean I want my images to portray adventure ultimately.
I was gonna say, that's an interesting word. When you said it I immediately resonated with it in your work. Did you guys resonate with that too? I was like yeah, she is an adventurous person. Like I can see her taking her clients on a little adventure. Especially like this pregnant mama by the mountains. I mean who stands pregnant next to a mountain, only an adventurous woman right. Which is another one of my favorites by the way of yours, it's so pretty. You went through the four step finding exercise a little bit, did you come up, you came up with a very interesting artist: Gabe McClintock, whose work I actually went through and then what I do is I go through their work and then I see, I look at your work and I go how is she influenced by him. How is she influenced, and Gabe McClintock's work, amazing. Amazing work. Is, there's a common thread and theme and that's the embrace. And un-camera-aware work. So you'll have to go look up Gabe McClintock but when I saw a couple of her images with the embrace. The one there second down there on the left, the little boy embracing his mama. And the one that I loved in the very beginning, as well as some of these other embraces, they're all embraces that are not camera aware. And that's very much Gabe McClintock and I don't even know if she knows she's being influenced in that way by him, but my sense was almost this sense of adventure but private adventure. Like we're on our own, and we're gonna steal away and have a secret. You know that kind of thing. So I'm not sure if that's where, that's what I saw when I looked at Gabe McClintock's work and then looked at yours. I went oh, she loves that sense of intimacy, of secret stolen moments. You know like going, when you said the word adventure I was like oh yeah, that is totally resonating now. She's taking that feeling of Gabe McClintock's sense of secret love and passionate embrace and taking that to an adventure. Just a different spin on it which I thought was really cool. Does that resonate with you when I say that or is it totally off the wall?
No no that's definitely. His work is a lot like darker and moodier than mine but the, it's interesting, I did a mentorship with someone and they, one of the images was actually of the, the woman in the yellow dress but it was a different one where you couldn't quite tell she was pregnant and it was very scenic and she was just in the middle of this mountain scene and she's, I submitted that to her for feedback and she said you need to check out Gabe McClintock because this is so reminiscent of him and I did and I was like oh my gosh you're right. I did not follow him purposely. I did not like follow him on Instagram or Facebook or anything because I don't want to be overly influenced and feel like I'm trying to copy or steal from him or anything like that. But I took it all with a grain of salt and I said yes, like that's what I'm going for. So I haven't, I did not look him up again until last night. (laughing) And suddenly it hit me in the middle of class yesterday, I said I need to look him up again and as I did, like all his images are just exactly what you said. The private adventure. They're always in a mountain top scene somewhere out by a waterfall all by themselves. There's nobody else around and it's just and they're so camera unaware.
It's almost like he steals a very private moment from them. A very intimate moody rich moment and he sometimes cuts off their heads or it's all about the embrace. They're never camera aware. It's like you see the side of her hair or the shoulder or they're turned away or something and I saw that in your work especially with that upper left image where they were not camera aware. It resonated with me and I wondered, I wondered if you were going to take that concept of the embrace further and I thought wow, that would be interesting for her to take that embrace and put her own spin on it of adventure. The, did you have one image of Gabe's in particular, I mean not to, we can totally go on a different subject here, but on a different topic, other than embrace, is there another image that really resonated with you of his work that you wanted to kind of start discovering with?
There is. There were a couple that were rather similar. They were kind of mountain top, looked almost like an elopement of some sort. But just the stunning mountain tops.
Yeah but the I want to say like the focus is still directly on the couple. Like I want to be, my goal I think at this point right now, what I want to try to do is to bring a couple into a gorgeous area like that and not think about the scene. I want to think just about them and on the intimacy of them just with this ending up with a beautiful background 'cause I think if I think too hard about that background that it'll get lost or they'll get lost.
So I think that that's how I want to pursue that.
Oh that's a great idea, great idea. So when you guys look at her work, what visual common threads do you see? Yes, miss Olivia.
I feel like every image has someone on the cusp of something. So on the cusp of parenthood or on the cusp of starting a life together or on the cusp on transitioning from little kid to big kid. Like there seems to be a lot of like transition, life transition kind of moments that you capture which I think is really cool.
It is very cool, I didn't see that and now I do now that you mention it. Very cool, anyone else? Adjectives to describe visually or emotionally for that matter and you can write these down if you want if it helps you hun. What do you see in her work visually?
Well, I don't know it it's just, it's visually but it's emotional too. It's a journey. I see like a snapshot into a very important journey.
I mean that's interesting that you both saw the same thing which, isn't that weird how people tell you your work, you're like whoa, okay, I'm not sure, yeah. And then you're like yeah, okay. But it's still adventure. We're still on that same theme right? What else?
I think togetherness. You know you talked about intimacy but not just intimacy but even in the pictures of like the little kids there's an element of it's like that intimacy and the adventure kind of mixed together, it's togetherness. It's the moment of being together and experiencing life together.
Very cool. I love seeing what, yeah? Keep at it.
Emotion and movement.
What did you say I'm sorry?
Motion and movement. Either the water or people walking away or towards something. Just like the breeze and the tall grass. Dancing.
And all of her images are outside images. They're all outdoors in nature in an adventurous place right. What, how do they make you feel? When you look at these visual components, how does it make you feel when you see them?
The lower, the second one, first one where they're embracing and it's super close up, when you said motion I just went to that immediately and I felt like this, you know deep breath that they're sharing together. Like I felt motion in that, but that's maybe the only one that looks like there's no motion, but I felt that, that that was actually happening so I still feel like that fits in with that description of you know there is action going on and you're you know like maybe this is set up but you're actually capturing something in time. That you know like you just happened to be there. She just happened to be in a yellow dress on a mountain and it was gorgeous. (laughing) So lucky to get it you know.
That's awesome, anything else as far as feeling goes. Yeah Kenna?
Well we have some shout outs from online. One person said "embrace adventure." Embrace adventure is a perfect tagline for your studio.
Oh that's a good one.
And then Ally had said earlier that your work is, some of the words were intimacy, real, family, peace, and that you love horizontal and sunrise sunset, seeing those things in there as well.
Which is a transition. Dark to night.
So there's something going on there. Okay squint your eyes. Is there anything that doesn't fit? Interesting enough the yellow pops out at me. But it may just because it's the highest point of contrast but it's definitely the one image that's more, granted she does have mountains in this other image over here. I don't really see anything that doesn't, like screams at me. Is there anything that screams at you guys? The bouquet screamed at you a little bit. Yeah.
I almost see like two things. I see the richness of all the green and then I see the lightness of all the sky. And so it's not that one is different than the other but there are just two.
Yes. I see that too. I see that too, and that's again, like I told Laurie, a personal decision. You know the darker green definitely gives it a higher contrast feeling. And you know you're going to be at weddings where there's a lot of green. You got to shoot it.
In the northwest
Yeah I think especially in the northwest. So then you need to ask yourself, do I want to show that as my body of work, as my portfolio, or do I prefer to show the light airy. But then you also have to take into account your clients are going to see a lot of green here in the northwest, so that's what they're going to see in their gallery and promoting and marketing your light airy images in a place where you're going to get a lot of dark green is you know, sometimes it's a business decision or a tactical decision or a style decision. They both emulate your style. It's your direction, your choice which direction you want to go or if you want to keep the two. It's okay to do both I think. Let's look at her website really quick if we can online and just kind of discuss a little bit about applying her style to her marketing. Now the words we used, a lot of adventure, a lot of journey. A lot of fresh light feeling. What else did you write down that I didn't catch? Togetherness. Transition, movement. So let's look at her website and see if we get that same feeling. Immediately I did from the work that's on the site, okay. Beautiful logo. Are those three color tones up there, are they three like color bars? They're very cool. I kind of look at that as quite adventurous. Do you see what I'm saying, it's like this little surprise. Like oh, we're gonna, we. Yeah we're elegant but boy do we have a little trick up our sleeves. You know what I'm saying? Like we're, I don't want to say it's rebellious 'cause it's not rebellious, but it definitely, the three colors on the top makes you go oh, this is not just your typical studio. This is something above and beyond. They're a little bit adventurous. Do you know what I mean? So not Gabe McClintock adventurous 'cause he's like totally out there and awesome, but like that hint and, that hint of adventure. Does that resonate, is that accurate? But I think your logo definitely resonates your style very much so. Do you guys think the same thing? I think it's awesome. So can we scroll down on it at all, does it just, I'm not sure what's in there. So it's just your, yeah, beautiful work. Oh stunning hun. I actually think your website has a better representation of your style than those 20 images did. (laughing) Do you guys think that too? That's awesome that she's able to edit and discipline herself to pick out what is truly, truly her. Any struggles you're having with your style?
Getting the adventurous people. (laughing) To make my style complete.
Totally and let's see how could we do that? The way to get the adventurous people would be to put that kind of more boisterous adventurous work on your site. And to show that. It would be to you know do, of course models calls with people who you knew you were adventurous to get that kind of work.
I just did that, that's where that bridal session came from.
Oh that's awesome. Oh my goodness that is stinking adorable. Go back to that one of the kids.
Oh I think that's my favorite one of theirs.
But why do I like it? Because it's the fun playful, being a little bit you know toddlerish and naughty. Which you know the whole family's joining in which totally resonated with me. But do you see how the ideal client will be attracted to what you love as long as you put you out there? You know like, if you know I love this kind of free spirited look to work, if I see a website that has, I'm immediately attracted to that image. Oh that's my favorite. Yeah we all have our favorites. It's all just opinion anyway right. But if I see a photographer who resonates that style then I'm going to be drawn to her as her ideal or his ideal client. Does that make sense? So that's why it's so important to edit your work on your site and Allison has done a fantastic job of that, of really showing who she is on her website. So yeah let's keep going, let's see what else is on here. This is fun. Pretty. Intimacy again. A little adventure. Anything else you guys see that you want to comment on? Ah let me see this umbrella one. Yeah. That's very adventurous. The embrace. And this, the hand holding isn't embracing. It reminds me the echoes Gabe McClintock with that whole non-camera-aware, you don't know who they are. It's about the love and the adventure and that quote embrace, the hand is the embrace. So yes Kenna?
Some of the other words coming through are alive, spirit, spirited, which I really enjoy. Free, freedom. But I do have a question from the chatrooms which is about black and white and adding black and white into the mix of color. Does that change the style or what are your thoughts on that?
It's a good question. I think it depends on the work. Her, like let's go back to that black and white that's, let's show it a little bit more if we can, it might not, this site might not, there we go. I mean do you think it takes away from her style at all? If she was doing really high contrast low key black and whites with this spotlight effect on someone's face, yeah I would say it's not quite her. But this type of black and white here seems to resonate with her style. What do you think Olivia?
I think the processing definitely does. I just don't know that it fits because it's not really showing a connection, it's not really showing. I mean it is a transition in the sense that she's a bride and this is obviously her wedding day but I don't get the same feel looking at that image as I get from her others.
I would agree, I would agree. But it's still gorgeous work, it's just that I'm not sure that I would look at that and go that's Allison Turcotte. Whereas the umbrella or the mountain shot here, I would go yeah that's Allison's image. Does that, do you know what I mean? And this is why style, and why I was actually intimidated to teach a class about style is because it's so elusive, there's no like black and white. It's a total gray area and this is one of those. You know no pun intended, gray areas, where you have to look at all the components of the image. Not only it's black and white tone but also is it focused, what's the subject matter, how's it composed, all these questions and do they keep true and resonant to the style that she's trying to create. Yeah.
Just in terms of how does, 'cause they're all lovely but the black and white did kind of stand out to me too, but if it's a feature that you wanted to offer to brides, maybe taking that out of, instead of the banner, moving it down into an edited little spot that says, and featuring that as something. An option, so then it didn't contrast quite so much with the rest of the flow.
Yeah I would agree. That's a great idea.
Interestingly enough, I just launched this. Re-launched my website on Monday and I meant to take that one out. (laughing)
Already on it. Congratulations by the way, it's a huge project to do your website. I can totally relate to that. So you deserve a little congratulations for getting that done. Okay so, let's go back to keynote here and talk. Allison is clearly understanding what it means to take that style and put it into, at least on your website, on your brand, there's so many more things that comprise a brand and we've kind of picked through her work as to which ones fit and which ones don't. We've seen this dichotomy of the two which she needs to explore a little bit to find out if that's something she wants to do and we've talked about words both visually, adjectives, and emotional components and then of course the next phase from there is to write your artist's statement. So think about how you want your work to impact the world, what you want to say with it. You know we spoke with Laurie about being vulnerable and intimate and soft, sweet, charming, feminine, and those she needs to now marinate in those words and ask herself why that feeling and those descriptions mean something to her. Does that make sense? And how she wants that to impact the women and ideal clients that she serves. And you need to do the same thing. So when we look at adventure, and togetherness and motion and movement and alive and freedom and all these fantastic words, what, why are those important. Why should your ideal client care about those words. Do you know what I'm saying. Why should they care about those feelings and that kind of relates your impact in your work. Make sense? You are awesome, thank you.
Beautiful work my dear.
Beautiful work. (applauding) I so admire you guys for being brave enough to get up here, it is not easy and I just kudos, kudos to you.