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Feature Friday ~ Alea Lovely Photography

March 12, 2010


Her mom always said, "Alea, if you say something, it will happen."


I can't speak for other aspects of her life but in this case her mom was spot on. Three years ago Alea Looney was a college admissions office employee from Kansas City, Missouri who decided to buy a camera. Today she is currently living in London photographing fashion models for a living.


With a bachelor’s degree in Communication, Alea had some experience with broadcast, theater and film, but never photography. In January of 2007 a friend aspiring to be a fashion model asked Alea to take some pictures. With her 5 pixel point and shoot camera she happily obliged not knowing that this would be a turning point in her life. She enjoyed photographing her friend and realized that she loved the creativity involved in creating a unique photograph. 


Two days later Alea bought a camera. A big, nice, expensive camera that needed to be paid off. With no formal training and no idea what the capabilities of her new toy were, Alea went to work. She spent the next year learning, researching and photographing. Thus, Atograhpy was born.


"I was on Google for hours and hours a day. How do I make my picture look like that? What affect does Photoshop offer to capture this light?" Alea began teaching herself everything she needed to know about photography. In the beginning she says her style changed weekly as she learned different techniques. Originally she didn't want her name as the face of her company. Atography represented a company, not just an individual. 


While learning about photography Alea also faced the challenge of creating a business. After setting up what she calls her "faux Myspace" page for Atography, Alea began to book clients. She offered shoots for $100 and people started buying them. Turns out, they liked the photography!  She knew fairly quickly that she would need to create a business plan. Photography is a competitive business in Kansas City and it was hard to get advice from fellow photographers because of their secretive natures.


Alea’s new business flourished quickly. She started with portrait shoots, engagement photos and senior pictures. Although she "was really nervous to do weddings at first" with her enthusiasm and creative eye she was a natural.  Alea attended a photography summit where she realized that photographing weddings could not only be a business, but could be done creatively. After about a year she began to entertain the idea of quitting her day job and pursuing photography as a full time "bill paying" career. As she began to plan, design and prepare she decided that June 2008 would be her 'go-live' deadline.


As usual life threw in several unforeseen hurdles and she had to change/accept that her new deadline would be in August 2008. Unbeknownst to Alea the admissions staff had become aware of her desire to pursue photography as a career. Although unexpected, this gave Alea a quick (and supported) exit. Although feeling unprepared and nervous of taking this big step, sales went through the roof! As she continued to photograph weddings and portraits though she began to feel bored with her work. "I began to lose the love for what I did."


Coming from a very creative background Alea wanted her work to reflect her creative base; weddings were not fulfilling this. "I wanted to let my photography bleed into my art."


Doing what others would consider crazy and intimidating Alea decided to jump into the world of fashion. She chose London for its fashion culture and because it was a central location between her boyfriend's home country of Poland and the United States. Tired of how business was running in the States and ready to face the new challenges Alea changed the name of her business to Alea Lovely. In Kansas City business was dictated by other individuals and not by her own creativity. The new name brought everything full circle back to "just her and her camera." The word 'lovely' was the word she most commonly heard used to describe her pictures. Put together with her first name it represented a re-birth of the business and re-brand of her as a photographer. 

 Since arriving in London almost six months ago the main challenge has been networking. Alea describes arriving in a new location with no contacts as the hardest part. "I networked on Facebook. I joined groups and posted things everywhere." Someone saw her work, contacted her and she did her first fashion shoot immediately after arriving in London. Although this contact has opened up opportunities and led her to even more contacts finding a job has still been a challenge. She got an opportunity from a big, mid-range level modeling agency and has been shooting their models for free to get lots of portfolio work. It's much different in London as far weddings go. "People just don't get married!" She will be shooting her first British wedding in a few weekends! "The greatest thing about fashion is that there are no limits. You can't just tell a bride to stand on top of something and wear a foil necklace. With fashion you can take it to the next level."


When asked where she sees herself in five years Alea giggles and replies, "I'm directionless." Unfortunately she has to move back to the U.S. in about a month because she was unable to get a work visa. Until they are married Alea and her boyfriend are seemingly unable to live in the same country. At this point she's not sure whether to continue Midwest weddings or work in the small, underpaid U.S. fashion market… The possibilities are endless. She would really like to break into the film world as well and will be filming and editing her first wedding next week!  Alea’s been featured in several magazines and has explored breaking into entirely new markets. She says that a definite goal is to live and work internationally. "There are so many different places I'd like to live and photograph."


Alea describes herself as a "good imitator, not a good photographer." She knows how to take a beautiful photo but her own style is still developing.

You can
check out more of Alea's work and find her blog and contact info at!

To go straight to more amazing pictures you can check out her flickr photostream at!!


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