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Meet Ali Hanley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ali Hanley.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ali. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have always been a creative individual, even at a young age I would try to make all my school projects art pieces in the form of the presentation of them. I took my first photography class when I was fifteen years old as a Sophomore in high school. I fell in love with the idea of being able to freeze a moment in time to create what could potentially be a work of art. For my sixteenth birthday, I bought myself my first DSLR and the journey began. I finished out my high school career being apart of the yearbook team, where I was able to explore my creative levels even more. I moved up to San Luis Obispo after High school and started my four years at California Polytechnic State University SLO as a business major and photography minor. Being in an environment with other individuals that worked as hard as me and that were also creative but in a plethora of ways allowed me to grow and learn new techniques, skills, and critiques.

I was able to learn and practice hands on in a studio with studio grip equipment and was able to develop my own film photos in a darkroom. Halfway through my college career, my friends started a music/creative event production company that I became involved in. They threw their first Festival in 2018 called ‘Life’s a Peach,’ where I took on the task of leading and creating the media team for the event. I had gathered a group of individuals that wanted to volunteer their time to taking photos for the event in exchange for a ticket. After gathering the group, I created a schedule dividing photographers and videographers between stages and artists in order to gather coverage of everything needed. After the event, I gathered all images and videos from each individual and sent them out to the artists and to the production company.

Throughout my Sophomore to Senior years of college, I became more involved in festival and event photography. I started shooting for the in house media teams for certain festivals, allowing me to grow as a photographer each time. For me a music event/festival was like a blank canvas with endless opportunities. There were so many different aspects and perspectives for me to explore, leading me to realize that I love being able to capture people and their emotions and surroundings in a way that makes it art. My Senior year of college, I worked at a Boutique in downtown San Luis Obispo where I was given the opportunity to photograph for them for their social media and website. I realized that I wanted to be able to pursue a career in photography once graduated and a couple of months after I graduated, I started the position of Photography Assistant at the company BootBarn. I love being able to learn new concepts and perspectives all hands on and I am excited to continue to learn and grow as a photographer.

Has it been a smooth road?
Well life isn’t a smooth road, there are ups and downs and you’ll always encounter obstacles but it’s how you overcome those obstacles that really matter. Yes, I have had struggles along the way, but I’ve never given up and always worked my hardest to push through the hard times or the stressful times. I still have struggles today, but I always try to stay positive and still keep working hard and not giving up. Like they say, sometimes you gotta push through the pain.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I do freelance on the weekends when I am able to and have the time to in this current time. A couple of years ago, when I was living in San Luis Obispo I worked a part-time job, where I did inventory and some photography for a Boutique while freelancing for events and graduation portraits. Whenever I have the chance to create and do a shoot I take it. I’ve been working on a side project that has been and will take me time to complete but I know I will be proud of it when I am done and able to share it with everyone. As for what sets me apart from others I would have to say that my photos would have to speak for themselves to each of an individual, but I do try to create photos that make the viewer want to look at it for more than a couple seconds.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I do feel like our city is a good place for starting to explore business endeavors. There are a lot of opportunities out there, you just have to be willing to take the time to look and listen to others and your surroundings. Wherever you are though, it is most important to have good support and determination.

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Image Credit:
Ali Hanley

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