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Life and Work with Allie Appel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allie Appel.

Allie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am from New Orleans, Louisiana and my interest in photography began when I was thirteen and received my first digital camera. A few years on, I started wandering through the French Quarter asking strangers for their story and a portrait. I knew my purpose was in photography from that point on so I took journalism and talented art classes in high school and later went on to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography from LSU. After college, I was a magazine photographer for Baton Rouge’s lifestyle magazine, 225 Magazine. There, I covered fashion, food, events and human interest stories which was so fun for me. I had a great editor, Jenn Tormo, who really took me under her wing and always pushed me to take assignments out of my comfort zone which has really made me a stronger and more diverse photographer.

When my fiance was offered a job in Chicago last year, we were so excited about the move but I was also very sad to leave my job at 225 knowing I very well may not get hired in a similar position in Chicago. When this came true after we arrived, I knew I had to re-assess my plan and find something that I could love that would use my talents and strengths and fulfill me creatively.

I’ve always had a passion for bringing light to the human condition. In all of my work, I want to get to something real in each person I photograph. I also really love storytelling through photography so when I moved to Chicago I realized that being a wedding photographer was a means to those ends.

Every wedding, I get to photograph moves me deeply. I have the opportunity to form a friendship with every couple I photograph. That friendship is cultivated over months of conversation and engagement sessions. By the time of their wedding, we have a relationship that comes through in how comfortable they are in the images and when people feel comfortable they can be the truest versions of themselves. That’s when we get to some really emotional images that capture the real love they feel on that day.

Your photographer is with you more than anyone else on your wedding day: I always tell people to hire a photographer that you can find a friend in because that’s who you need to have by your side. I cry at least once during every wedding because it’s like I’ve seen this love story unfold all these months and now we are here and I get to witness the happiest moments of these couples’ lives. It’s very emotional work and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, it hasn’t been a smooth road. When I moved to Chicago, I reached out to every magazine I could find with barely any responses from anyone. I felt like my dreams were dying right in front of me and my purpose was not going to be fulfilled. I felt that everything I had worked for up to this point was just falling away in front of me. I was very depressed and then I eventually decided I had to do something different and that answer for me was to pursue a wedding photography business which wasn’t something I really wanted to do at first.

I had always associated wedding photography with cheesy commercial portraits and overly posed couples in awkward situations. If I was going to do this, I had to do it my way and for me, that meant bringing my editorial background to this wedding industry. I was going to market to couples who want to make the kind of images that I did, couples who have the same goals of capturing real connection and so far I’ve been really fortunate to have found that niche of a client base here in Chicago. I even got to travel to Hong Kong this year to shoot a wedding which was really cool!

My advice to other women is that you really have to fight for who you want to be and what you want to do. If there isn’t anyone willing to give you an opportunity, you have to make your own way. I really believe if there is a persistent desire in your heart, this thing that keeps pulling you every moment that you just can’t imagine not doing but you have no means to do that thing- take small steps on your own however you can. Do what you can in the place you are in- make your plans, hang onto your daydreams, keep building on to your ideas of how to make your dream happen and please keep putting yourself out there no matter how many times you get rejected because you will and that’s okay. Rejection can actually be a good thing because a “no” can re-direct you to a better destination which has definitely been the case for me. Be ready for when your hard work pays off and an opportunity appears but also choose your opportunities carefully and make sure they will be good for you in the long term.

Please tell us about Allie Appel Photography.
I am a wedding photographer but I also do engagements and couple sessions. I am most known for candid, editorial style photography. I am most proud of the solid relationships that I create with clients and giving them a positive and supportive experience from start to finish. What sets me apart from others is that I like to think that I am a risk taker when it comes to ideas during shoots. I’m always down to do something unexpected – like if you want an engagement session waist deep in Lake Michigan or wedding portraits in the Hong Kong subway station, I’m your girl.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
I think the fact that I was always nurtured creatively and in the arts really led me to a visual arts career. My grandparents were the ones who noticed that I had an eye for composition with my first camera and that gave me a ton of confidence to pursue photography as a career. I also think that empathy was really important and foundational for me to have the career that I have now. I was always taught to really see people and that everyone matters and it’s a small ordinary thing, but for me, it’s been a core part of why I do what I do.

Contact Info:

  • Website: allieappelphotography.com
  • Email: hello@allieappelphotography.com
  • Instagram: allieappelphotography
  • Facebook: Allie Appel Photography


Image Credit:

Allie Appel

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