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Art & Life with Alexa Machado

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexa Machado.

Alexa, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
In a nutshell, my timeline looks like this:
In 2013 I discovered photography in high school when I was a model for my first professional portrait session ever! It was the first time I felt confident and I loved the process so much I decided to pursue photography as a hobby! In 2016 my musical theatre friends began paying me to take their headshots and it slowly progressed until I was photographing sessions almost every weekend. At this time I was also juggling a relationship, a job at the Safari Park, and the struggles of being a full-time biology student.

At the end of 2017 my health rapidly declined and after several terrifying incidences (that happened in the middle of class and work no doubt!) I was finally diagnosed with POTS.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia causes exercise intolerance, rapid heart rate and blood pressure fluctuations when standing, and severe anxiety. I knew I needed to make some major life changes so I got myself out of my unhealthy relationship, quit my job, and because at that time I was no longer able to get to physically get to class, I dropped out of biology and pursued an online photography degree!

To anyone who is struggling with a life event right now, I want to say that something beautiful is going to come out of that later, even if it takes awhile and you can’t fathom what it could be right now. At the time, I didn’t understand why my life literally fell apart so fast, and now I can look back and see that everything that I thought was a loss actually created a clear path to such an amazing place!

I am now pursuing my passion, I get to work on my own schedule, I’m able to network during the day instead of being confined to a desk, I have time to manage my health and practice my craft, I found my amazingly supportive friends who were there for me, and I came to realize that this was the path I needed all along! The way things played out, I have no doubt that this is what I’m meant to be doing, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I specialize in Fine Art Family (including maternity), Child, and Portrait Photography. I’m a full-service photographer, which means I hold my clients’ hands throughout the entire process until they end up with beautiful finished pieces for their walls or coffee table!

By this point, you’re probably curious as to what compelled me to quit school a year away from obtaining a biology degree and stumble headfirst into entrepreneurship with no prior business knowledge whatsoever. It’s imperative to always have a reason behind your business, and that reason is known to us fancy entrepreneurs as our “why”.

“Why’s” are very important because they keep you motivated when you feel like throwing in the towel. They must come from a place of service and a desire to share your gift with the world. For example, a lot of people may want to run a business because they want to make more money. They’re satisfied with that answer and then become confused when their mission lacks clarity. Why’s require a lot of thought and digging deep? You have to keep asking why until you uncover a core value that serves someone else.

For example, you may ask why you want more money, and you find that you want more money so you have more to give to those who need it, or so you can feed your kids, or so you have more time to spend volunteering. Don’t make your why’s about you, keep digging until you figure out how you want to use your business to serve others.

Here are mine:
1. I think building a relationship with the client is important, which is why I take more of a personal approach than most photographers. I personally feel like just showing up at a portrait session and sending clients their images are impersonal and I can imagine it’s hard to get comfortable in front of the camera for a complete stranger. I want to get to know my clients as people, which is why I have a consultation where I can meet them and customize their session, and they’re also free to call or text me for any help with outfits, etc. Meeting before the session tends to help them relax at the actual photoshoot because by then we’re already on some type of friend level, I’m not just a face behind a lens. I am personally extremely awkward in front of the camera, and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way, so I’ve found that this approach helps eliminate that issue.

2. Through personal experience, I know how much confidence an image can give someone. It kind of snaps you out of that warped perception you may have of yourself. I want to use my photography to remind my clients that they are beautiful. Through my photos, they become the focus of a piece of art that they can escape to at any time, and that makes me giddy! (That’s also why it’s important to have a physical printed image that you can look at when you need to. Studies have shown having photos in the house raises kids’ self-esteem too!).

3. Going through a period of uncertainty and health scares right before I was diagnosed with POTS has completely changed my perspective on life. It’s so important not to take anything for granted and that’s why it’s nice to have photographs of your families. Those photos oftentimes end up being our favorite possessions because they serve as little windows into a time that we can’t get back. I want all of my clients to have that opportunity.

On a more personal level, the purpose of art in general for me is to produce something that is a reflection of my internal world that inspires some sort of reaction in the viewer.

Art is created to reflect, rebel against, influence, or respond to society. It’s fascinating how intertwined history and art really are. People of the future rely on us as artists to provide the emotional context to historical events. By analyzing artist’s responses to key events in history, it allows us to connect on a personal level instead of just reading facts and timelines out of a textbook. With that higher level of insight, we can better learn from our ancestor’s mistakes and knowledge. With everything going on today, it’s easy to get trapped with a negative perception of our surroundings.

Photography is a way to escape negativity and stress and create a physical piece of my imagination that others can explore. Ever since I was little, I’ve experienced extremely vivid dreams with breathtaking colors and epic landscapes that I can only wish to see in a similar form in real life one day. Because I can’t paint to save my life, photography is the outlet in which I’m able to dump all of the creative colors and magical ambiance that’s swirling around in my head. I often look at my photographs and ask myself “If this place existed in my dreams, how would it appear?” I can begin to picture it in my mind, and I use that as my starting point.

I do have a more traditional photography style for my family portraits, but If you notice, most of my individual portraits show the subject in connection with nature somehow, whether it’s dancing through the flowers or holding a butterfly. Nature serves as a break from the hustle and bustle of society and current events. I’ve also recently discovered visual meditation to help ease everyday stress, and as a result, my personal work has started to reflect a sense of calm and magic. I currently have a project in the planning stage right now as well called “Snapshots From the Meditative Mind” that will include composite work, so that’s something I’m really excited about!

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
When people think of success they picture fame, fortune, or influence, but I don’t think it’s about that. Success is not a destination, it’s a series of small goals that we accomplish throughout life. Success is creative to the individual. For example, maybe for an introverted photographer with anxiety *tentatively raises hand* something as small a going out to a networking event is success. Concluding each photoshoot with clients loving their images is a success.

Printing the images in a timely fashion is a success. Working with your lab to fix an issue so you can give the best-finished product possible is a success. Being successful as an artist means that you are able to live each day grateful for the life you’re living, to wake up every morning knowing that you get to do what you love every day for the rest of my life and at the same time create art for wonderful families, to know what fulfillment feels like, to not be scared of messing up sometimes, and to make deep connections with the people that support you on your journey.

Gratitude, perseverance, and ambition are the key qualities to success. Gratitude teaches you how to be thankful for your circumstances and changes your mistakes into learning experiences. Perseverance enables you to continue despite rejection, despite criticism, and despite financial difficulties, and ambition that is backed by your “why” turns all objections into white noise in the background and drives you to work towards your goals every day, because you’re on an epic mission to serve humankind, and you’re not going to stop until you’re so old you can no longer hold a camera!

David Viscott says it best:
-The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
-The work of life is to develop it.
-The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can see my work on my Instagram and my website. You can also view my work on several professional photography blogs! I am a top 10 photographer and guest blogger for Summerana, I have placed in the top 1% in a global photography contest with over 400,000 images in the past two years in a row, I’ve been published in numerous child modeling magazines, and my photo was on the front cover of SD Kids Magazine!

Whew, now that #shamelessselfpromotion is over, word of mouth is the most effective way to support my work! I’m a fairly new business, so I’m always looking for ways to meet new people and get the word out about my unique service! If you have friends that want to celebrate their families or are looking for art for their homes, then help me spread the word!

Following my IG account, subscribing to my newsletter, and supporting my work on social media are other ways to support me!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
FaBi Mayor

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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