Meet the beautiful face — in front of and behind the camera — of our newest Intimates E-book.
She’s a model, a musician, a writer and an activist. But now, you can add photographer to this Jane of all trades’ resume. Alyssa Miller, born in southern California, now residing in Austin, Texas, was the seemingly perfect choice to celebrate the art of self love in our new Intimates E-book. Yes, she has an accomplished modeling career, including a cover for Vogue Italia, but what shines above all else is her inner grace and beauty… the good stuff, as I like to call it. Today, Alyssa invites us into her home as she shoots the entire collection in self-portraits, without relying on the eye or point-of-view of another photographer. “It’s much more intimate because I am being my true self. I generally don’t get to do that. People want a persona for each shoot and you step into that role; for my self-portraits, I don’t need to do that at all,” Alyssa says.
Learn about what self love means to her, explore the challenges of self-portraiture in the candid article below.
Where are you from? How has that shaped who you are today?
I’m from California, a place called Palmdale. It was a pretty rough area, there was a lot of gang activity and drug-related crime. My parents were young and struggling to support 4 kids. We never had much. It definitely toughened me up at a young age. But being from the desert isn’t something that will ever leave my body. I crave it. Hot, dry summer air, the dust, the openness, the mountains in the distance… it will always be my favorite landscape.
What kind of kid were you?
I was definitely a tomboy. It was more to prove something than anything else. I was small, I was extremely introverted and I was good in school — none of those things were really doing me any favors with the other kids. So I joined the soccer team, and I got good enough to gain some respect. I wasn’t big, but I could outrun anyone.
Have you always considered yourself an artist?
Absolutely not. It’s still hard to consider myself an artist. When people ask me about music or my photos, it’s hard not to feel like a complete phony. I am essentially self-taught, a novice in both those cases. I just wasn’t raised in a home where art was revered. We were just trying to get by.
You have a beautiful and accomplished modeling career — what has been your favorite shoot thus far and why?
Well, thank you! I loved shooting with Peter Lindbergh. He saw a truth in my eyes and he built a story around that. He wasn’t trying to make me anything other than what I was. He is also just the absolute sweetest man.
When did you start taking self-portraits?
I suppose I really started doing it about a year ago, when I set out on a trip solo and wanted to document it all. I purchased a shutter release cable for my camera and a tripod, and started taking photos on the road.
Do you find self-portraiture more intimate than shooting with a photographer? Why?
It’s much more intimate because I am being my true self. I generally don’t get to do that. People want a persona for each shoot and you step into that role, for my self portraits I don’t do that at all.
What kind of challenges have you had to overcome with self-portraiture? Do you mind sharing a little bit about your process?
It’s limiting having a set frame. When you hold a camera you are much more free to move and find new interesting angles. When you’re shooting yourself, you just don’t have that luxury.
The key for me — I tend to photograph around my favorite light. I don’t do it for the sake of doing it. I’ll do it because I’m inspired by the beauty of a real-life scenario. You can really do it with a lot of cameras. A lot of them have the capability to shoot on a timer or pair with a remote shutter release. Just pop that baby on a tripod and frame it up, jump in there and you’re self-portraiting!
How would you personally define self love?
Well, self love for me has to do with acceptance. I have to accept everything about myself and if there is anything I can’t, I change it.
What would you say to someone who may be struggling with practicing self love?
Honestly, I’ve talked a lot with my gorgeous sister Chelsea about this stuff. She was struggling with body image and I said to her, just fake it until you make it. Which is so cliche but, if you change the internal conversation, you start to change the way you feel about yourself very quickly. I hear so many women talk so negatively about their bodies and it’s so useless! We tell ourselves and everyone who will listen how much we dislike ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, there have been and will be many more shoots where I feel anxious about my body or my skin not being perfect, and I would look at myself in the mirror with love and acceptance and tell myself I looked great and it would actually make me feel better. I would step onto set with that much more confidence, because nothing is more empowering than accepting where you are and loving it.
What inspires you to love?
I don’t know that I need inspiration to love, I just love. Love is everywhere, inspiration is everywhere. You just have to get out of your own way of stopping that from happening.
How do you best express love?
I’m a quality time person. I like to cook for people, have big group music sessions, drink copious amounts of wine and talk and laugh and dance.
Favorite love song?
John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves.”
Listen. It’s gold.
What does “being free” mean to you?
Freedom for me is being a whole person on my own. It’s about not relying on anyone for my happiness, about self acceptance, and it’s about adventure.
+ Shop the new Intimate’s E-Book collection here…
Thank you Alyssa! xoxo
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