ArtQuench Presents an amazing photographer whose heart and passion show in every photo. Alicia shares her story of how her infertility struggles helped influence her art. Please Welcome…
Alicia in Wonderland Photography
My journey as a photographer has been a long, somewhat challenging journey. I remember the exact moment that I fell in love with photography. It was during a school field trip to the Getty Villa back in middle school. Capturing the beauty of that location and the gardens there made me feel like I could capture the magic and beauty of the world with my hands. My maternal grandfather came from a family full of professional artists, and he gave me that first camera. I remember him teaching my sister and I about art, shadows, light, painting, and photography. I remember feeling frustrated at the time that I “only” seemed to have success with drawing things on my computer (with my mouse), compared to my sister who seemed more of a natural with a paintbrush and pen. So started focusing on photography and digital art as a hobby.
In 8th grade, I remember pushing my school to start a yearbook and I got involved with doing the photos for the brand new yearbook. My dad had been a yearbook photographer and helped give a lot of tips and guidance. Once I got to high school, I was elected as “historian” for our community service club, which meant I attended most of the events and photographed everything for our annual club photo album. One area of community service and photos that touched me the most was when we would volunteer at a local womens’ shelter. I absolutely fell in love with photographing the mothers with their babies there. I was inspired by the work of Anne Geddes, and at the time (20 years ago), there were not a whole lot of other popular baby photographers around. I felt like I had found my life’s calling, yet was discouraged from pursing anything related to that as a career (by school guidance counselors), since their opinion was that there was no way for anyone (other than perhaps Geddes) to make a living as a baby photographer.
One of the reasons in particular that I loved photographing mothers and babies so much was because of my own diagnosis of infertility at the age of 12. I was told repeatedly from age 12 onward that I had too many problems with my ovaries and too bad of a hormonal imbalance and that I would never be able to have children of my own. As someone who loved to babysit and just be around babies in general, it was extremely disheartening. Having been told that so many times, it strongly shaped my viewpoint about how each new baby is so special.
When I first started out in college, I started out as pre-med, hoping to become a neonatologist. After a very intense internship in a local hospital, I realized that I was way too sensitive of a person to be able to handle working in medicine in any capacity. So I switched schools, switched focus completely, and went to fashion school. There I learned a lot about photo editing, retouching, digital art and design, etc. I ended up working in the fashion industry for many years. I got to a breaking point about 5 years ago where I realized that I was not loving what I did, and I really wanted to go back to photographing mothers and babies. So I quit my full time job and started my own business with my husband’s support.
My original intent for starting my own business was the hope of being able to work with other people’s babies since I thought we wouldn’t be able to have any of our own. I was always under the impression that I would not be able to get pregnant, but we realized after we were married that getting pregnant was not actually the problem, but keeping the pregnancy was actually more of my main problem. We struggled for a while with the journey, facing miscarriage after miscarriage. It was extremely difficult to run a business while dealing with that kind of physical and emotional trauma.
Then I found a doctor who had lots of experience with my particular infertility issues, and I was finally able to get past the danger zone with one of my pregnancies. When my first son was born, it changed my whole viewpoint on life and my photography. I stopped listening to the advice I had heard in classes and workshops, advice such as using Photoshop actions to speed up my workflow and keep every photo consistent. I started letting my photography reflect my own unique perspective, and I stopped caring if my photos fit into the norm and confined with what everyone else was doing. I decided to start taking more risks with my shooting and editing styles and let that reflect in my work. I had somehow achieved the unthinkable by becoming a mother and that influenced my art tremendously.
I have always been pretty honest and upfront about the infertility struggles we have battled over the past five years, and it has come through in some of my personal artwork. I created one self-portrait titled “All of My Babies”, with me holding my son and little glimmers of light around us to depict all of the pregnancies that I had lost at that point. With the recent birth of our second son, I feel a sense of completion that our battle with infertility is complete. I fought the odds and won, despite a long uphill battle. At this point, I create art that speaks from my viewpoint as a fighter, and someone who sees babies as the most precious gift on earth. Hopefully that comes across in my work when others view it!