We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Reilly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, how does your business help the community?
At first, the thought of being in charge of myself scared the hell out of me. At the time I was active duty military and it’s all I knew for the last 10 years of my life. So to say that I was ready to light the fire and own my power in the passion I have for photography, ehh not right away. It took some time for me to build up the courage to actually go all in. I had been doing photography as a hobby and side hustle for a little over a year and a half before I decided I was tired of letting it be a second option. I became a mother in November of 2020, at that point I had been doing photography for almost a year. What I began to realize was my time in the military took so much of me away from my children and my family. As my daughter’s grew, I felt this burning desire to take back control of my day to day life. I wanted to be the mother I wanted to be, chasing the dreams I wanted to pursue and not having a lifestyle that was rigid to the agenda of the military. It was stealing my joy in my days with my children because I was always so tired and mentally elsewhere. Finally, in March of 2022, a little over two years of being a part-time photographer, I went all in. I decided that I wanted to be my own boss and pursue my love for creating connection in the world. Shortly after going full-time I decided I wanted to make it my mission to be more deliberate about the art I created and shared. In the photography industry, it is very few and far between that you see the love of the LGBTQ+ community represented or shared as equally as cis-het couples. Their love stories are stifled in a hetero-normative industry and I want to fix that. The focus of my work has now become creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ couples of the world to come as they are. I want to truly capture equality and inclusion through my lens as the medium for their expression of who they love, unapologetically. So far it has been goin very well and it makes me so happy to create the true connections with my clients that I do. As a straight ally to the community, it’s extremely important to me to be humble and constantly learn how to best love and support the community. I want everyone to know what it feels like to be seen, loved and respected for who they are so I have melded that passion with my love of love. My business is here for the queer and I’m not sorry about it, love is love and it should be celebrated.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Getting to where I am now was an up and down journey. It took me a long time to find what resonated with me and what made me most happy to create. I took on literally EVERYthing at first. I thought that success was defined by the quantity of the sessions I booked versus the quality of the clients I had book with me. After a few years working with families, boudoir, newborns, and various other “genres” of photography, I found a love in working with couples most of all. It’s where I have found the most joy and pride, the connection I cultivate in my work with couples is unmatched. There’s something so beautifully quirky about the love of each couple I meet. Exploring that authenticity and authoring their little love story lights my soul on fire. Getting to a point where I exclusively work with couples and their elopement journey is still a on-going process, for good reason. Building a brand is an ever evolving facet of a business, society changes constantly and each generation brings to light new things that need to evolve. Naturally, as a business owner you would be cutting yourself off at the knees if you didn’t acknowledge that fact and do everything you can to continue to educate yourself of a solid strategy around it. What has been hardest for me is laying the foundation of my brand. It’s so easy to identify characteristics, strengths and unique qualities about other people but when you look in the mirror… the silence in my brain has been deafening. I’ve had to dive into a more spiritual journey and connect with who I am to answer the daunting question of, “what does your brand stand for?” In doing so, I found things about myself that have helped me realize how freaking amazing I really am. The hardest part of that journey has been finding the best ways to market and really pour myself into my brand while navigating such a sea of “trending” social media. I feel like most of my setbacks or short comings have largely been due to imposter syndrome. I can be my own worst enemy sometimes with questioning my worth (compared to others in the industry) which I know we all do, but at the end of the day no one can be me. Being more mindful and aware of those tendencies helps me embrace my uniqueness and stop myself from self-sabotage. There’s a reason why I have been called to photography and to create my thriving business. I now know it’s to spread spiritually connected love and compassion to the world. More specifically, to be a voice or a medium for those who have the cards stacked against them. Raising awareness to the need of representing all love. Which is the primary goal and mission of my photography business, sharing LGBTQ+ lovers abroad. No matter where you are in the world, your love is valid. I see it, I’m here to document it and I will share your story and shout my support from the rooftops. This is the foundation of my business, inclusivity, equality and connection.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I currently reside in Tucson Arizona, and I’d definitely have to make sure my best friend came during the fall months or prior to June/July. It gets incredibly hot here from mid-late May all the way up until about October. My best friend and I loveee the outdoors so a majority of our time together would be spent sight-seeing or some sort of outdoor experience. A few of my favorite outdoor experiences would be going up to Oracle, Arizona to frolic in the lavender fields at Life Under the Oaks. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this beautiful farm quite a few times and it is absolutely magical. We would enjoy picking our own lavender bundles in the morning and then stopping over at Black Bear Diner or Baja Cafe for a late breakfast. Later in the week we would probably hike up the Seven Falls trail in Sabino Canyon, its breath-taking. Then for lunch head over to Postino’s or Culinary Dropout, most likely Culinary Dropout because the atmosphere is so dope. They have ping pong tables, corn hole boards, lounge areas and all kinds of things for a fun little experience with friends/family. Probably round out the outdoor experience by going up to Windy Point, Rose Canyon Lake and Incinerator Ridge to catch some beautiful views up on Mount Lemmon. Then maybe have one night out for drinks out in downtown Tucson, at The Funky Monk, Hotel Congress, The Playground and end it over at The Tiki Bar. Their “fish bowl” style drinks are SO GOOD but be careful… they pack a punch!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I owe my success to a SLEW of mentors, educators, books and most of all supporters. I think it would be fair to highlight at least one from each category? As a mentor that has offered me so much, I would have to highlight Makenzy Smith with @northwestfocusco. I went all in on a mentorship with her after following her for a while because she embodied what’s important to me, being unapologetically yourself. She brought me so much confidence I her support that I can’t help but be thankful the universe brought her into my life.
For the educator, hands down I owe a lot to Jessica Byrum (@jessicabyrumphotography). She’s such a genuine person and shows to give back to those around her. I had a mentorship with her as well but what I took away the most was the education she gave me for post-production with image editing. For the most part I have been a self-taught photographer but with photoshop and navigating some awesome effects, Jess has been the absolute best to learn from. I recently did a brand strategy session with Nick Robertson (@wild.eye.creative.co) and after we finished he recommended a book to me to help with the scarcity mindset I was experiencing. I’ve read that book I don’t know how many times now, You’re A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. O highly recommend it to anyone who has been struggling with owning their power in any business industry or “chasing the bag” so to speak. The way you manifest your dreams is important and this book really helps shift your mindset. Ican’t thank Nick enough for dropping that “truth bomb”, if you will, on me. Lastly, as far as support, love and encouragement, I owe almost everything to my best friends, especially Tanya and of course my family and husband. My husband has been my biggest cheerleader and supporter throughout my journey, without whom, none of this would’ve been possible.
Website: https://solflowerphotosblog.wordpress.com/ (this is my blog, my new website hasn’t been launched yet)
My personal photo was shot by Amanda Druffel Photography and edited by me.