So there she was, sitting behind the wheel of a blue pick-up truck – messy hair and all, with a camera in her hand. Damn, I thought, she’s cool.
The moment I met her, I felt the kind of creative energy that made my heart race with inspiration. She was welcoming, and it seemed like I had known her forever. Her voice spoke softly, but she was heard in a big way. You know, when you meet someone that is humble pie, yet soaked with talent and poise? Curly locks hanging halfway down her back – messy, free. A camera strapped to one arm and Ruby, her little girl, crawling at the heels of her feet. I used to scroll through the photos she took, picking my jaw up off of my lap, hoping one day I’d be on the other side of her lens. Later that year, the opportunity knocked and I swung open the door. We did collaboration with FP Me + FP Pittsburgh, and after she snapped a few photos, I was in awe of her raw instinct behind the camera. Never have I felt more in-sync with a photographer in my life. She makes it seem so easy, like breathing. As I twirled and danced into the sunset of our city streets, Alyssa chased each drop of sunlight perfectly; making the images soft as honey, and capturing images of myself that I’ll cherish forever. Because she has a contagious way with her art, and the personality that many seek to find, let me introduce you to my friend and muse, photographer Alyssa Florentine. Here’s a peek into her life: In a couple of sentences.. Who is Alyssa Florentine? Alyssa Florentine is a Pittsburgh-based photographer. Mother to Ruby Florentine. What’s your favorite part about your job? The connection it gives me to people. I have shared some of the most important, emotional, and intimate moments of other people’s lives. Being the observer gives me the opportunity really understand them and I always walk away feeling a deeper connection to them. Ruby, or “Rue”, your little girl, is absolutely adorable. In what ways has she changed your outlook on life, love, and your career? Rue has brought so many amazing things to my life, love, and career, but the one quality that has really changed all three of these facets equally would be this newfound fearlessness. I am never afraid to experience life fully, to move forward and accept change. In love, she has opened my heart in a way that eliminates the fear of loving wholeheartedly. In my career, I will never again be afraid of failure; I have to succeed for Rue. List 5 fun facts about yourself: 1. I sigh a lot, but for not for the usual reasons, it’s really just an excuse to take a deep breath. 2. I get my love of hats from my grandmother, and we often borrow and trade. 3. I am better when I’m outside. 4. I listen to movie scores more than any other type of music. 5. Before I became a photographer I wanted to be a pilot, I still plan to some day. We all have the idea of what a perfect weekend would be. Tell us about yours. A perfect weekend would consist of hiking every morning. Then I would probably find somewhere fun to take Ruby, in the summer there is always some street festival, or farmers’ market… she loves to be in the mix of things! Evenings would be spent having a BBQ with family and friends, sitting outside around a fire. One tip for a photographer who is just starting out? Just keep shooting. You must be a busy bee, being a mom and working towards your dreams with your photography. How do you find balance between work, family, creativity, and time for yourself? Thinking of how to answer this made me laugh at myself. I don’t think I have found balance. I just try to live in the moment and be present. What’s your all time favorite meal? Grilled veggies and seafood with a summer beer. The work you have captured is absolutely beautiful. What do you want people to feel when looking at your images? Everybody relates to an image differently and I know that. If my image can evoke a deeper emotion from someone, no matter what that is, I feel accomplished. What’s in your bag? Most of the time I carry a little wallet full of cards, money and Chapstick. I also accidentally leave this wallet in every corner of the city. Actually, just picked it up at the police station yesterday. Fortunately, people are honest and good. Greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received? My professor Patrick Millard really changed the game for me. I was in denial about being an artist and was worried about not being able to make a living making images. He made me look at my project and said to me, this is art. Figure out what you want to make, and do that. If you’re passionate about it, someone, somewhere will pay you to keep doing it. Soundtrack to your life? Here ya go! Can you share the most memorable photo you’ve taken? I think it’s this little iPhone snap of baby girl stretching. It is just one of those moments in between all the giggling and awing where I just think, damn, this is what it’s all about. You are beautiful, inside and out. Let us in on your favorite beauty tip! I am really into making my own face balm right now. I make it with coconut oil, lavender, frankincense, and lemon. It smells pretty, and fights acne and aging. Fast forward to 5 years from now… where do you hope to be? I would like to have a couple of acres, with a studio and a house built on it. Have a huge vegetable and herb garden. Maybe get an Irish wolfhound for Rue. What does free mean to you? Janis Joplin says, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” Which I think is true in so many ways, good and bad. On a positive note, it would be the feeling you have in a creative breakthrough when you are driven to make something, just to make it, without the need for affirmation or acceptance. A very special thanks to Alyssa for sharing so much beauty with the world! Make sure to check out Alyssa’s Website & fall in love with her Instagram! Follow FP Madisyn on Instagram & her blog!