Last week, I met up with photographer Allison Harrell at the cafe Little Brown on 85th and Madison Avenue in New York City. I’m a fairly recent fan of Miss Harrell’s work, and wanted to learn more about her and her inspiration behind the camera.
Allison seems to have experienced what one might call an artistic awakening during her time as a Pre-Med student in Tennessee; making the kind of swift life-changing decision that eventually landed her in the heart of New York City.
We sat for a while discussing the manic weather pattern of the day when I asked her about her semester abroad in Perugia, Italy. You can always tell the joy someone has taken from an experience when the mere mention sparks a light from within. The self-proclaimed coffee-fiend and cannoli lover quickly divulged one of her favorite memories.
“…it was on an excursion to Venice.” she said smiling. “My friend and I went to this wonderful vintage costume shop where one of the owners invited us to celebrate the Festa del Rendentore on his boat!” Allison informed me that the festival is an annual event held in July to celebrate the end of of the plague of 1576 that claimed the lives of 50,000 Venetians. “We were able to watch the firework display between St. Mark’s Square and Il Rendentore on the water… watching the sun come up on Lido in the morning- that was one of those truly amazing life moments!”
Allison possesses the kind of positive energy that can change the mood of a room instantly. The bright-spirited photographer draws inspiration from life’s surprises, or as she put it- flavors that you wouldn’t have thought to taste on your own. “Some of the best things in life find me!” She exclaimed while taking a sip of her iced-coffee a la Nancy Botwin. “… hopefully its because I’m receptive to them.”
She continued on as we played a game of musical chairs with other Little Brown patrons trying to avoid the rain. “I feel that there’s an incredibly human quality that happens through the camera. A lot of people see the lens as a filter. For me, its more like a bridge.”
Allison also admits to being inspired by art history and favors the Fauvist movement for it’s colorful display of emotion. “I just love this era for art! I feel like every shape and stroke comes from an emotional place. It’s truly for everyone. Regardless of your educational level in art, the emotional quality behind Fauvism is so obvious anyone can be moved it.”
Perhaps it is her daily outlook on life that lends itself to her art. “Every day I wake up and hope to be inspired. That’s my MO! If I’m really lucky, I have the opportunity to influence a brightened, positive perception in the people with whom I work and those who see it.” And this is entirely true, because when we finished, the rain suddenly stopped and I stepped out onto the pavement of a suddenly sunny Madison Avenue.
Visit www.amhphoto.com to view more of Allison’s work.
- Diana Warner New York Anniversary & Mustache Party? (jacoboheme.com)