Our next installment of Photographer Appreciation Month features Aly Morrissey. Read on to learn more about her photography!
Your name and type of camera you use / prefer?
My name is Aly Morrissey. I’ve always used Canon cameras and am currently shooting on a Canon R6.
What type of photography do you most often do or prefer (subject matter)?
People, places, and performances! I have been a wedding and family photographer for eight years, and this year I was fortunate enough to land a gig at The Sharon Playhouse as their season photographer. I have fallen in love with theater and performance photography. Being embedded in a world of artists has been a dream.
How did you get into photography?
My career background is in journalism and communications so I have been photography-adjacent for years. It helped when I received a little Canon Rebel XS as a wedding present 15 years ago. I got tired of not knowing how to use it, so I enrolled in a few adult community education classes outside of Boston.
What’s your most favorite photo you’ve ever taken and why?
My favorite photo I’ve taken is, in a way, a love letter to The Sharon Playhouse and a recognition of the moving nature of art. It is a haunting image I captured this summer during a production of “Our Town.” Conceived by the incredible Andrus Nichols in her directorial debut – and brought to life by lighting designer Kate McGee and set designer T.J. Greenway – swings hung from the ceiling of the Bok Theatre in the show’s famous graveyard scene. The magnitude of this scene was the point at which art, philosophy, and maybe even spirituality converge. It sounds crazy, but watching it – even through a lens – felt like an out-of-body experience. I was moved to tears thinking about my own life and loss and was thankful that I got to photograph the show before it officially opened because I was an emotional wreck (in the best way possible).
What I love about this photo has a lot to do with something Michael Kevin Baldwin, Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education at the Sharon Playhouse, talks about all the time. He often discusses the “ephemeral” nature of theater. When you watch theater, it’s happening in that moment. It exists only in that time and place. Though photography can’t fully convey the magic that happened in front of a live audience, it is my hope that I can at least freeze a moment and remind people of how they felt. This photo does it for me and it takes my breath away each time I look at it.
What inspires you and your photography?
Photography has been incredibly healing for me and has positively impacted my mental health. There are many studies that show the links between creativity and a person’s wellbeing. I love surrounding myself with other people who like to create, but also finding inspiration in solitude. It can hit when I hear a song lyric in the car, the way the light hits on any given day, or just going for a drive to see what photo opportunities present themselves.
What is your background – did you study photography or are you self-taught?
I love hanging out with other photographers and learning from them! I trained as a wedding photographer under my talented friend Kelly F. Peterson and have worked alongside many photographers over the years. Most of what I’ve learned is from others and through good old fashioned trial and error. (And LOTS of errors!)
What is your process?
A wedding is completely different from a family session and both are different from a performance. Each process is different. One of the only through-lines for me is my inevitable mix of anxiety, nerves, and excitement leading up to each shoot.
Do you use Photoshop or other software or are your photos more natural?
I use Lightroom and Photoshop, but these days I strive to use those programs to enhance my images while retaining a very natural look. Looking back on some of my work, I cringe at the edits I used to like. It’s so easy to overdo it!
How has technology impacted your artistry and photos?
I have loved the evolution of mirrorless technology. For theater performances and weddings, the electronic shutter has been great when I need to shoot quickly and quietly. There are also lots of interesting things happening with AI these days – some of which are a little scary, to be honest. I do like that it can speed up the editing process, though. The new “denoise” feature has been my best friend for theater photography.
Where do you photograph – your most common locations – do you have a favorite place to photograph either as a subject matter or as a background?
I mostly love to photograph people, and that can happen anywhere. But in terms of actual locations, I’d have to say right here! We are so lucky to live in this area and it can often be hard to stay present and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
How do you market yourself – do you have a website or social media that you use to promote your photography?
How do people find you and your photos – do you sell your photos or are you more “to hire” / commission-based?
Most of my work comes from word-of-mouth and networking. For example, I just photographed the most beautiful fall wedding for a set designer with whom I crossed paths at the Playhouse.
Have you (your photos) won any awards?
I’ve never been recognized with any formal awards. I just enjoy the connections that are made through photography and the people I get to meet. No two days are the same!