Think beautiful headpieces, stunning composition and brilliant lighting. With a degree in graphic design, photographer Aelise Davis has a stunning repertoire of conceptual images that strike a chord with any art lover. Every photographer we interview here at Ezra brings something different towards the field of photography. With Aelise it’s about her lighting and the way she encompasses her environment. Below is our interview with Aelise, talking all things lighting, going into lakes at 40*F and how she plans her images.
Hi Aelise, how are you?
I’m doing wonderful thank you for asking.
How did your passion for photography develop?
I did a little bit of photography after high school. I enjoyed photography when I did it but it was a hobby and I just never saw a future with it. I left it by the wayside for a while when I went to college. I got a degree in Graphic Design and tried to approach a career in that. I received a few freelance jobs but it was never enough. I have done art my whole life and I want to try and have a career in an artistic field. One day, I told my husband I wanted to try and do photography again. He went with me to the bank that day and applied for a loan. I prayed that if this loan went through this was my path. It went through that day, I went and got my camera, and in a few weeks I had my first photo shoot. I love doing photography now and I am accomplishing so much with it. Thanks to my husband and his endless support I would have never known how talented I am in the photography field.
What has been one of the most interesting experiences for you whilst out photographing?
That’s a good question. There is never a dull moment when you photograph with me. I always have the models laughing and having a good time. I am a laid back photographer. I think the more fun you have, the better the shots you will get.
Your photos of Caitlin Rose Campbell are absolutely stunning, tell us a little about the idea behind that shoot and what it was like constructing the headpiece that she wears?
I had in mind I wanted to do something a bit more extravagant than what I had been doing. I wanted to make a large headpiece for the shoot and I knew how I wanted it. I explained it to my husband and drew it out. He built the frame for me out of a plastic board that he got from work. I then used a lot of fake flowers that I had collected from all the past shoots. I then applied all the flowers, butterflies, bird eggs, moss, and branches with hot glue. It took a lot of work and continuous burnt fingers. It was a lot of work and pain but I think it was beautiful in the end and it did amazing in the pictures. Caitlin is also a very strong model. She knew how to express her face so well with the head-piece I made. She did so much to make the prop work. She would lay in tall grass with spiders to try and get it to work. She is also a lot of fun to work with.
How did you go about creating the idea behind the photo of Megan Willis in the lake/stream?
I have had poor Megan in the water so much. She’s even been in water when it was 40 degrees out! To be fair, I was in it with her, shivering together. Most of the ideas I have with her and water is between worlds of light and darkness. Death and life. It’s kind of hard to explain. Almost spiritual is the best way to explain it. She always captures the emotion I am trying to get across the most. She also has a way of being creative and artistic with her poses.
You have also submitted some photos for Vogue. Tell us a little about that experience and how you felt as a photographer?
Vogue is a difficult area to get into. You have to go through a process where the Vogue editors vote on your piece to see if it’s good enough to be allowed on their page and to have their logo on your image. You have to go through a lot no’s before you get through. I was so shocked when my first two photo’s went in I almost cried and yelled for joy. It was a tremendous accomplishment to me. I really would like to one day photograph for Vogue, so to just have my photos looked at and accepted on their site means a lot to me.
How do you plan images beforehand? Do you draw them, write them down?
A lot of planning has a lot to do with discussing with my husband. He is the technical side of my brain. I am really creative and can think up a idea but he helps me flesh it out. I also sometimes draw it out to make sure that’s what I want it to look like and discuss my idea until we get things cleared up and figured out. We also will travel to areas I plan to shoot with so I can get a idea of what I want to shoot and how it will work in the area.
What do you enjoy most about photographing models, in effect photographing people?
The most I enjoy about photographing people is capturing their emotion and expression. I love how people’s faces interact with how they feel or how they should feel. It’s a good way to capture the human spirit. I also enjoy meeting people and shooting models is a great way to meet new people. I think everyone can be beautiful and I want to share the beauty in all people.
Your photos sometimes reflect more of a past almost ‘fairytale-esque’ theme. How did you develop that and what do you like most about creating images in the style that you have created?
I like to create a different world to kind of escape the mundane world we seem to live in every day. I want to show something different and interesting. I like to make my photographs different too. I don’t want my photographs to ever feel the same so I’m always trying different ideas and landscapes.
Do you have any advice for amateur photographers or people who are just dipping their toes in the photographic field?
Do something that speaks you. Never give up; the photography world is tough but if you keep going you can go far. Also never let creativity die, use your imagination. Create a world you would like to be part of.
Where do you see yourself in five years and what do you hope to have achieved by then?
I would like to be a photographer of a large magazine company. I hope to have achieved a lot of publications and some recognition of my work by then. I also would love to go to New York and be part of their fashion week.
What is your favourite photograph in terms of construction and overall composition?
My favorite photograph overall is probably the photo I did of Tiffany Merriman holding the skull in the tall grass. I love how I edited it and captured the photo. The depth of the photo and the color of it is very intriguing to me.
What is your favourite photograph in terms of going out and shooting on the day?
My favorite photograph for shooting out on the day would be the photograph of Caitlin and my sister Ariana. My mom actually came out that day and got to see how I do photo shoots and I really enjoyed having her there with me. Also the photo came out very beautiful and mothering which is what I wanted.
If you could only take one more picture for the whole of your life, what would the message be?
The photograph would have a lot of my own personal artistic vision to it. I would like to have a bit of myself in my image and then a strong emotional message. I like to deliver emotion and strength in my images. It helps me heal in some ways. I would like the message to be: “It’s okay to be different and make your own path in life.”