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Meet Alissa Wyle of Holy Smoke Photography in North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alissa Wyle.

Alissa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Photography for me started in a meaningful way on photo walks in West LA with my mom. I was 12 at the time, my grandparents were living in Brentwood and that summer, I was able to spend two sets of 5 weeks living with them. Originally from Indiana, the main focus of my trip was on acting which was my passion as a young girl; however, as I found that the industry did not immediately open its doors for me, I spent much of my time with my mom wandering around my grandparent’s neighborhood. My love of photography was born in roses and birds of paradise. I found my subjects in the hungry bees that clung to the petals and excitedly would head back to my grandma’s computer where I’d play with the abundance of Camera Raw editing software for hours.

It wasn’t until many years later, when I found myself out of place in a recording studio in Allston, MA, that I decided to try out photographing people. Feeling the passion of the players and studio staff, I wanted to be a part of the creation. I immediately was captivated. Slowly I began to do photoshoots with friends and acquaintances and before long had figured out that there was something incredibly powerful about the collaborative nature of a portrait photoshoot. Building my business was greatly trial and error, and thankfully I had friends with business educations to guide me along the way.

Now, I work full time as freelance photographer and have recently broadened my horizons to video work as well. Most of my clientele are musicians as I haven’t been able to kick my admiration for the passion of the music community and find that my favorite work comes from multiple creative minds coming together. It is inspiring and humbling work.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been varied but incredibly worth it. One of the main struggles was overcoming self-doubt. I was learning how to be a portrait photographer through taking photos of people and similarly learning how to be a business owner by simply being. I’m grateful for the guidance I have gotten along the way, especially when it comes to valuing my work. It took me a while to realize that valuing my time is pivotal not just for me but for other artists as well. The more we appropriately value our time as artists, the more we grow the worth of art in our society.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Holy Smoke Photography focuses on working with other artists and primarily musicians, helping them solidify, build, or re-invent their visual brands. With thoughtful creative direction and a focus on authentic movement, I lead with communication, aiding my clients to embrace not only who they are right now, but who they want to be. I believe a photoshoot can be a means of manifestation, by embodying the artist you hope to be, you set yourself on the path toward your most vibrant and authentic self.

With a background in contemporary dance and yoga instruction, I focus on “curated candids,” allowing my clients to explore their bodies and attitudes rather than leaning into prepared poses. This is a means of achieving authenticity. More and more I have been noticing how much one can read from a photo. In the instant that someone looks at a photograph of a person, they read the person’s emotions, they read the feeling in the room, they read the comfort level of the subject. With careful consideration, I work to build an environment of comfort and curiosity where the subject can explore themself, their identity, and, if applicable, their artistry.

The work of Holy Smoke Photography is known for being diverse, edgy, and often vibrant. A focus being on creative post-production to enhance a captured moment and greater develop an artist’s particular aesthetic.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was often called “a ham”, loving to perform and be in the spotlight. For my first 12 years of life, I was very interested in acting doing community theater as well as my elementary school’s plays. I also began dancing when I was quite young, learning to belly dance with family friends as early as three years old.

I always liked to do things in my own way, not relishing in being told what to do. Looking back, it makes sense that I decide to run my own business. I recall a story from a family friend of when I was close to two years old. I was upset over something and causing somewhat of a scene. My mother said if I continued misbehaving, she would take away the puppy dog toy I was clinging to. My immediate instinct was to hand her my toy but continue fussing.

After 12, I was confronted with the reality that I’d likely not be a childhood star. Though at the time, this was a great emotional blow, it was unsurprisingly for the best. Exploring other art forms including dance and color guard helped me to feel confident and built the understanding of movement that aids my work today, I am grateful for the path I’m on.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

In frame: Olivia Gatwood, plainfacedgirl, Aimee Vant, Hunter Blair Ambrose, Fytch, Kira Helper, Seraah, and Anderson .Paak

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