Each week we’ll feature one photographer from the PhotoShelter community, and share his or her story behind the shots that caught our eye.
Since she can remember, Alison Turner has felt like an explorer. But it wasn’t until she quit her desk job and truly indulged in that part of herself that she discovered a passion and talent that she may have never known was in her. This year marks the fifth year Alison has been out on the road, traveling across the U.S. in a van with her dog, Max, taking photographs of her adventures, and the people she meets along the way.
Although her means of traveling have changed over the past five years – from a teardrop trailer, to a tent, to her now pop-up van – Alison always travels freely and keeps her lifestyle simple. Her three essential items on the road are her iPhone, a make-shift coffee pot, and lip balm. “Mostly I stay one night at a location and then I hit the road the next day to an unknown destination,” she says. “I leave everything up to chance. I’ve circled the states for four years and I would love to say exactly where I will go this year, but I really don’t know and won’t know until that morning.”
Alison “discovered” photography while out on the open road. “I didn’t pick up a camera and take photographs until my second year traveling, and that was with a small point and click camera,” she says. Alison admits that those first two years were far from easy. “When I started my journey, I had no idea what I wanted to do or where it would take me. I just drove around and blogged out to family and friends to make sure they thought I was having the time of my life. But, in reality, I felt lost.”
After taking such an incredible risk, Alison felt pressured to do something amazing with her time, but she had no idea what. “The voices of doubt thundered louder in my head with each passing month, and I tried quieting them at night with a cocktail or two…sometimes three or four. It worked for a while – until it didn’t.”
After months of letting fear get the best of her, Alison decided she needed to change her lifestyle in order to truly experience an authentic life with purpose, which is what she had originally set out to do. She quit drinking, sold her 188-bottle wine refrigerator and entire wine collection, and with the money bought a Canon 5D Mark II.
Soon, she was hooked.“I shot every day. After a while, people began to tell me that there was something special in my work. The challenge was believing it myself. To this day, I feel that photography and art saved my life. It re-awoke my creative soul and gave me a new purpose.”
Alison was drawn to taking environmental portraits of those she met on the road, and after documenting the “Silver Sisters,” a group of women who travel via Airstream, she sent in her photos to Airstream Life who immediately wanted to publish the images. During that same time one of her photographs was recognized at MOPLA (Month of Photography, Los Angeles). Alison began to wonder, “Could I actually make a living doing this?”
Alison’s Airstream portraits have become an important part of her photographic identity, and she’s attended Alumapalooza to document the fest for the past three years. She is currently working on a black and white portrait project, taking photographs of her female friends back at her home-base Los Angeles. She’s currently posting a few teasers of the project on her Instagram account, but once completed she’ll reveal the entire project and statement behind it.
What caught our eye:
Admittedly, we discovered Alison’s work via Instagram (she has over 2,000 followers), loved her images, and were pleasantly surprised to find out she was a PhotoShelter member. Alison documents a niche lifestyle that most are unaware of, or don’t have access to. As one of the “travelers” Alison has a special connection with her portrait subjects that’s easily interpreted in her photographs.
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