Allison Davis' award-winning work as a wedding photographer for 13 years, extensive travel and love of creation propelled her to create "Revealed at the Edge" as her debut photography book. She prayerfully explored the coast amidst the pandemic's pause on day-to-day life to create, to share her love of natural beauty in the world and her personal reflections on landscapes as reflections of the seasons of the soul.
Hopeful in moving forward as a fine art landscape photographer and writer, Allison launched her first Kickstarter campaign on July 23rd to fund her first print run of "Revealed at the Edge," a 562 page vibrant and honest depiction of her 30 day journey to photograph 3116 miles of the American west coast.
Q: Can you share with us your artist journey and what inspired you to take the creative leap into launching Revealed at the Edge?
My journey with my camera began in 5th grade as the self-appointed family and friend historian. But as I grew in my skills and passions, I’ve been a professional wedding & portrait photographer for 13 years. A little before the pandemic, I’d made a big move in my life to pursue life as a photographer in a more beautiful area and chose to rebuild my life and my business in southern California.
The combined timing of relocating my business and the pandemic forcing closures of celebrations and public gatherings completely halted my business. What I’d built over 13 years and had been rebuilding in a new place, vanished nearly overnight.
I attempted to stay in my field as a photographer by working as a real estate photographer to survive the demise of the wedding industry I’d been in for 13 years. But after two months of learning and getting into a flow with the work, I hated it. I absolutely hated the work: shooting 3 walls, alone, in a quick manner with little to no creativity, with a heavy focus on the technical… and I wanted to throw my camera out the window. I knew I had so much more to offer the world than photographing those 3 walls. And a personal project that had been brewing in me took hold of my imagination and dreams.
At the beginning of 2020, I was thinking about a personal project of photographing the beaches of San Diego. As I thought about how I didn’t have much work and now had nothing but time and solitude, the dream came to me to photograph the entire west coast in 30 days.
As a creative, I loved the idea of framing the project around a journey and a time period and creating a body of work from that time period. I love the coast. I love where the ocean and the land meet: it’s rugged, wild, largely untouched and full of inspiration and gorgeous scenes.
With nothing but time, and very little money, I decided to car-camp my way through the majority of the west coast. I researched potential locations, set 70 in my maps and drove 3 days north, then spent 27 days photographing 3116 miles of coastline, 220 locations and capturing more than 28,000 images. I basically hiked, photographed, wrote, ate and slept. I was thriving in this creative space to create and seek beauty.
I was ultimately inspired by my love of travel, my joy and passion to enjoy God’s creation, by my love of making photography books and the dream of creating my first coffee table book and fine art photography show. All the things that have made me who I am and shaped me, helped form and allow this creative piece to flow out of me. It’s been an absolute joy to make and I cannot wait to share this beautiful book I’ve created throughout this last year.
Q: Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you pivoted in this new direction?
Honestly, the entire pivot has been an interesting journey. From the actual journey of photographing the coast for 30 days, to writing for the book, to creating a marketing plan, to designing the book, to bringing it to its final form and sharing it with the world in hopes that it makes it from my dreams to reality has been interesting.
How this 560 page flowed out of me, nearly effortlessly in the creative aspect, is interesting. It’s like it’s something that’s been stirring in me to create something for myself and not for a client. It’s a complete passion project and a huge part of my heart. I had the first manuscript complete, from the inception of the idea to the first draft, within 6 months. And the ideas just keep pouring out of me and I’m excited to see where God takes me on this creative journey moving forward.
Q: What are your goals for the Revealed at the Edge and other avenues you plan to explore?
I have so many goals and dreams for this project.
Initially, it was a creative exercise to pursue beauty amidst a time of loss and hardship, and to shoot thoughtfully, reflectively and share what I found. I had no idea what would come from the journey. I hoped for enough to do a fine art show, but what I came back with was something far more grand in this debut fine art photography book.
I had no idea what would come out of the journey, but I stepped out in faith and courage that I could create something awesome in aligning my passions, talents, calling and skills.
My initial goal business-wise was simply to produce about 20-30 images for my debut fine art photography show. Then I had the idea of creating a book so I would have something else to sell at the show besides the fine art prints. But “Revealed at the Edge” is its own gorgeous piece and creation that I want to see thrive and I see it growing into so much more.
My goal with the book is to sell at least 2,000 copies of “Revealed at the Edge.” I’m hoping to crowdfund the minimum I need for a print run for a book of this size and grandeur through Kickstarter. Once I can fund the print run, I can sell the book directly to stores, boutiques, resorts, hotels, etc. If I can hit my sales goal, then this would help me recoup the loss of the last two years, it would help launch me into the photography world as a journey, adventure & inspiring photographer & author. It would help fund the next trips to photograph coastlines around the world.
I am going to photograph the East Coast for 40 days in the fall and have already begun shooting the coastline of South Africa with a 2 week project I did over the summer. My hope is to create a series of books, fine art print collections and to spend my days photographing and writing and sharing beauty in the world in a raw, natural way.
I have a million dreams and I’m excited to see where “Revealed at the Edge” takes me and how it may help me in reaching my other dreams.
Q: What are the biggest creative challenges you've faced with the launch of “Revealed at the Edge” and the obstacles you've overcome?
In creating the actual book work for “Revealed at the Edge,” everything has flowed beautifully.
The most challenging part of this project is getting it in front of the right audience who will back and support the project by buying a copy. I’m not a world-renowned landscape photographer: I’m a woman who lost everything, who was in the process of rebuilding my life and the pandemic hit and I sought beauty to create amidst loss and now have so much to share… but, my audience is small. So marketing a project of the scale I dream of is an undertaking. The challenge is how to get my story and my project out into the world.
My family and friends have been following my journey and have been amazing and supportive: but I didn’t create this book for myself and my family and friends. I created this gorgeous and inspiring book to follow the calling to create, to be an artist, to make and to share something beautiful and meaningful in a gorgeous way.
I’ve done everything I know to do and spent months developing a plan to market the Kickstarter campaign. I shared my journey of creating with my current audience, I enlisted the help of Lampstand Story Co. to create a short film for my project, I commissioned Meshali with Author Portraits for promotional use, I commissioned Maggshots for behind the scenes images, I hired Your Brandista to pitch my story to media outlets and help with PR for the launch, & I hired Elua Marketing to run social media ads, and I personally reached out to hundreds of people to share my story and experience and what I created. It’s been a lot of work, but I’m hopeful to be laying the groundwork for all of the projects ahead: so I can create and be an artist in the world in this capacity.
Q: Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Honestly, the best ways I’ve been able to share and create interest in the project has been by sharing my story personally, one-on-one and in networking events. But I’m limited in my abilities to share one-on-one continually.
Q: What's your advice for artists and creatives who are just starting out that would want to explore a similar path?
I cannot recommend “The Artist’s Way” enough. Author Julia Cameron leads you through a series of creative exercises to unblock your creativity and to give yourself outlets to create and just see what comes. I loved working through that book and allowing myself time and space to breathe and to dream.
I’d listened to podcasts, watched webinars and read so many other books on creativity, faith and photography as I was resting and refueling in a time of waiting. I think it’s good to have some time and space to see what comes.
I believe being open to things and pursuing them just gives movement to your life… you never know where one class or one idea or one book or one experience will take you, but if you’re open to living creatively, there’s no telling where your life will go.
I believe you should just go for it too. Maybe you won’t make the most epic thing ever, but you have to make junk. You have to make things that are terrible. You have to write bad essays. Take bad pictures. You have to paint things you’re going to trash. You just have to create and keep creating. And see what comes out of it. And then you have to sit with things and see how they develop.
One quote that’s been speaking to me throughout this project is from “Art + Faith” by painter Makoto Fujimura, “There is no art if we are unwilling to wait for paint to dry.” And so we create, we create again, we keep creating and then we wait and sit with it and see what it becomes.