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The Allegra Messina Interview

An interview with fashion and lifestyle photographer Allegra Messina.
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Allegra Messina is a Los Angeles based photographer with a Seattle-native style. Taking images of signed and unsigned models all across America, she captures all of the details and beauty in her clients. From vibrant, popping colors to dark, melancholy tones, Allegra is able to capture any mood or emotion by working with her models and making them feel comfortable to express their true emotion.

Where and when did you get a start with photography?

I’ve always been passionate about art and took classes all throughout my schooling. However, I felt like there was something missing; I found traditional studio art to be too lonely for me. I decided to take senior pictures of my sister and post them all over social media, hoping to maybe shoot for a couple of friends. Lo and behold, they took off and I’ve been shooting portraiture ever since! I like to hope that my photography has improved a bit since those days, and now I treat it as a profession and the best way to go on adventures all across the West Coast.


Tell us a little bit about your style.

I’m really intrigued by bold colors and capturing emotions in beautiful settings. My favorite images are often the most candid ones of a shoot, regardless of how “staged” the rest of the shoot is. I work a lot with both signed and unsigned models, and especially love working with dancers and actors who are willing to move in odd ways. My surroundings often dictate the entire shoot and I let it flow a lot from there.    



How did you learn to edit your photos?

Years of YouTube videos! I watch a lot of Jessica Kobeissi for more fashion-oriented tones, Phlearn for general photography knowledge, and basically anything else that springboards from there. Once I learned enough of the basics, I went into Lightroom and started just playing around a lot with tones. It takes time and I’m still always trying new settings and experimenting in LR.


What is your camera of choice?

I use a Nikon D750! It’s awesome.


What is one piece of advice to help get your photos to look more crisp?

A lot of that comes down to investing into a good lens that is naturally sharp, and then using the sharpening feature on LR. But, if a new lens isn’t really in the cards, I’d be sure to sharpen eyes in post-processing to make those really stand out as focal points. If shooting landscapes, there are Photoshop techniques on blurring a background that could also really help!


What/who inspires your photo shoots?

Growing up in Seattle till I was 18 really imprinted a love of nature and exploration on me. I’m extremely inspired by the world and what it has to offer, as cheesy as that may sound. Now that I live in Los Angeles and attend school there, I’m trying to blend the Seattle, natural style I’ve developed with the city. One of my dreams is to spend a year exploring the United States, spending a week in every state – I love adventuring and let it lead full shoots most of the time!


What are some of your favorite places to shoot?

That’s a tough one! For Los Angeles, I really enjoy the Huntington Library (even if you’re not supposed to shoot there), and Angeles National Forest. In Seattle, I love shooting almost everywhere! It’s hard to not find good spots. Volunteer Park (a cute cacti garden), Newcastle Golf Course, and Lake Boren Park are some underrated local areas.


Describe your editing process or workflow.

I’ll let you all in on a secret: I have the “laziest” workflow of any photographer. Having talked to tons of photographers, I honestly think I do the least to remain organized and edit. Generally, I import all raw files into Lightroom. I go through the whole shoot and just edit whichever photos stand out to me, playing with tones first (using my presets, a lot of the time!) and then doing any skin adjustments. I do those in LR, with the spot removal tool set to heal. I’m guessing there’s a better way, but hey, this works. I usually edit 100+ images from each shoot so I have full shoots in the event of magazine submissions or companies requesting images. I’m also extremely indecisive, so I can’t ever pick the best images and end up just doing extra!


What is the best preset in your Lightroom Presets Bundle?

I really, really love using Riley. It works on a ton of different images, including weddings and seniors, not just model photography.


Who are some photographers that you look up to?

I’m inspired by people who are really consistent with their style, even if it doesn’t align with mine. For that reason, I’m extremely amazed by people like Chuck Lang, Maddy Welk, and Amos Haley. I can see one of their images pop up and instantly know they took it, and that’s what I aspire to do someday!


(Photo by Maddy Welk)

Where do you hope to be in one year?

My one main goal in photography has always been to feel that I’m improving with every shoot that I do. As long as I can do that and not lose any of the passion, I’ll be happy in now and a year from now! More concretely, I hope to keep my current sense of wanderlust and couple that with even more natural, expressive posing.


To stay updated with Allegra’s photos and her travels, follow her on Instagram and check out her website and Facebook page.

Read more of our interviews with photographers, designers, and other talented creative people!

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