Our latest spotlight is photographer Alana Lee! We first came across Alana’s work in our Color Lab Facebook group. We were already big fans of her work however once we learnt more about Alana and her story we were compelled to shine a light on this woman who pushes forward and creates beautiful work despite adversity. Alana you inspire us and we can’t wait to see more stunning images from you!
Why and when did you start photography?
About 4.5 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after a very severe attack that led to losing my mobility and vision over the course of a few weeks. My vision, especially in my right eye, had lost contrast and saturation – it was blurry, and I could really only see light and shapes in grey tones. I was aware that with MS vision difficulties can come and go, and I was eager to try and encourage my vision pathways in my brain to stay active and heal. I picked up my camera and began photographing the world as I was seeing it, in hopes of stimulating the parts of my brain that would hopefully lead to full vision coming back. I found that while I was concentrating on creating images it also took my mind off of the intense pain, and allowed me to feel productive. It motivated me to start moving again and working more intently on my physical therapy, adapting to my new disabilities and learning how to adjust and adapt my gait so I could walk, even with significant balance issues. When I was unable to walk I would spend my time in bed, listening to as many online photography tutorials and workshops as I could.
Eight months later my daughter’s dance studio owner asked me if I would photograph the students for their year end pictures. I laughed at first, but she believed in me and my abilities. I did it! I was seated, with my camera on a tripod, the buttons of my camera reprogramed so that I could work the settings and functions with the limited feeling and dexterity I had remaining in my hand. Autofocus helped me when my vision blurred. The children were just the right height to photograph from a seated and comfortable position. A fire was lit and my passion for photographing children was ignited. I discovered a new path, and even a new career that brings me so much fulfillment and joy. I am still challenged by my symptoms, as they often fluctuate and I never really know what difficulties each day will bring. I schedule my work as my symptoms allow, photographing a session one day, then resting my legs the next while I edit the images. I have found tools, equipment and techniques that enable me to have a workflow that is efficient and functions despite the many challenges.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The world around us is so amazing but often we forget to take a moment in our busy lives to notice the small things. The way the light glistens off of an object, the intricate details, shapes and patterns of objects, and what hides in the shadows. An interesting color combination, textures of all kinds and especially the rich tones found in nature.Sometimes I draw inspiration from people themselves. I love the wonder and imagination of children and some of my favorite photography sessions start by asking them how they dream of being photographed. There are unlimited possibilities when we open our mind and set our creative selves free. I also draw from the past. Stories and fables, my own dreams, the way the great master painters used color and light.
Why do you think color toning is important in your work, and what does it help convey?
Color toning is everything. It is the finishing touch that sets the mood and atmosphere in an image and helps to tell the story with the emotion that I am trying to create. The Color Lab Actions collection creates rich, emotional color toning, and also enhances the contrast, texture and depth in an image creating magical combinations that work so well together. The actions work equally well for both traditional studio portraiture and my magical fine art creations.
What inspired you to begin using our actions?
As a member of Sue Bryce Education I began following the retouching work of Pratik Naik. Through his social media I saw beautiful fantasy images created by Bella Kotak, and was drawn to the interesting color tones in the photographs. After a little research I came across the Color Lab Actions group and was intrigued to try a set to see if they could be incorporated into my workflow to help create efficiency and consistency with my color toning – especially when I was having a MS flare up and I could not trust what I was seeing on my screen with my own vision.
What is your favorite part about using the actions in your workflow (when you do use them)?
I’ve tried many of the actions available in the photography market, but none have really compared to the complexity and refinement I can achieve with the Color Lab Actions. I like that I can go into the adjustment layers within the action and modify anything to suit the image I am editing. Even though I could create similar color toning with a hand edit, using an action is just more efficient. With a few modifications I can create a consistent look that is unique to my style, while applying color tones quickly and effectively. When working with a composite image, applying a Color Lab Action at the end of the workflow helps to bring all of the various components together into a cohesive image.
I love the rich and timeless look of the Royal Collection, as well as the moody and emotional feel from the Kate Woodman Color Lab Actions. I’ve even started incorporating the Fine Are Actions into some video retouching. These actions pull together all of the visual elements into one cohesive look that enhances storytelling in such a sophisticated way, and I can apply the same color tones to both my images and video to deliver a consistently branded feel across all media used in my marketing and delivered to clients.
Recently I’ve also enjoyed using the new Infinite Color Panel to compliment and fine tune the final color of my images. After applying my favorite Color Lab Actions I will often then run the Infinite Color Panel extension in Photoshop to explore even more color options. The harmonize function is currently an essential tool when finishing off any image and pulls everything together so beautifully.
What will others find when they give the actions a try?
Sometimes you know the exact feeling and emotion you want to create with an image. Other times it is beneficial to explore a variety of color tones that may take a creation in a completely different direction than you initially intended. I have my favorite actions that I tend to return to time and time again, but I also love the thrill of exploring new actions and combinations. It’s like going on an emotional journey of color exploration and you never know where you will end up. I encourage others to be open to trying new things, exploring new ideas, and not be afraid to take steps in new directions. When one path ends, another great adventure is around the corner if you keep an open mind and explore the possibilities!