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Rising Stars: Meet Robert Alston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Alston.

Hi Robert, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve always had the spirit of an artist. As early as I can remember, I always thought outside the box and had a distaste for the mundane. Although I had friends throughout middle and high school, my parents were kinda strict and I was often grounded for one thing or another (even for coming out of the closet at age 16), so I didn’t have much of a social life growing up. I think this is what fed my creative spirit and got me through those long, dreaded days. My parents’ definition of “grounding” was absolutely zero entertainment, so no T.V., no phone, no computer, no music – literally nothing. But me being rebellious at heart, I found a way to sneak a stereo system with CDs and magazines into my room and use those as a form of escape.

One day I was gifted a video camera and began filming everything. I’d interview my toddler brother for the most random things. I’d film my friends being goofy at school. I created stop animations. I even made videos of a character I created named “Luther Sneezle,” who was essentially a Great Value version of Steve Urkel. But I say all this to say that media and “content creation” has always been my core passion.

In my Photography 102 course during senior year, I had a project that I was given complete creative control over and that’s truly what sparked my interest in being a professional photographer. I’m not sure what influenced my concept for the shoot, but I turned two of my friends into marionette puppets; I went all out, even creating the puppet handles and doing the makeup. Even though the pictures were absolute trash, it was the first time I can recall feeling true pride in something. To this day, I love that feeling so much that it’s still one of my primary motivating forces.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Absolutely not. Choosing this path has been the most disheartening thing I’ve ever endured. This has been harder than being riddled with blood clots, nearly dying, and having to have a rib removed at age 25 (yes, this happened to me). However, it has equally been the most gratifying experience I could’ve given myself and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to do this for a living.

The biggest struggle over my decade-spanning career has been the mental turmoil. Whether it’s me doubting my skills/vision or whether it’s me projecting those insecurities onto other people, it seems there’s always a new challenge for me to overcome in order reach my higher self. There was a time when my mental health plummeted and my work regressed for a few years; but I’m here to tell any creatives out there that if you persevere through and face those inner battles head on, you will undoubtedly come out victorious and stronger than you could ever imagine.

Although there’s always a challenge, I would not take anything back or do anything differently. I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason and a quote I live by is, “I never lose. I either win or learn.”

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I inspire others to express themselves with no bounds. It’s very important for me to understand the root inspiration for clients wanting to work with me so that I can best help them convey their message.

I specialize in creative portrait photography and photo retouching, but I’m also an experienced graphic designer and web designer (I’ve dabbled in videography but I still have a lot to learn). I just love the entire process of creating and helping others bring their vision to fruition. Helping others is what brings me the most pride and joy.

What sets me apart is my ability to blend strategy with culture in a way that complements my strong work ethic. Pop culture and current trends have not only influenced and inspired my work but also driven my interest in media. I have managed art direction for several projects and gratefully, artistic orientation has always come naturally for me. I tend to bring along my child-like curiosity to projects because it opens my heart to dream and create absent of boundaries.

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is inspiring others and letting the lost or helpless know they’re not alone and anything is possible if you have a little faith in yourself and put your mind to it. If you feel you’re at the end of your rope or if you’ve run out of options, don’t be afraid to put yourself first and funnel all your love and energy into something that brings you joy because that can be what saves your life.

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