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Tispr Stories: Alissa Pagels-Minor is Seeing the World Through a Different Lens

Every Friday we check in with a freelancer or small business person who is following their dreams and doing what they love. This week we sat down with Alissa Pagels-Minor, a San Francisco based commercial photographer who specializes in portrait and lifestyle photography and has been freelancing for 12 years.

Alissa began her photography career freelancing in events and portraiture.  She finds magic in creating a pleasant process and dynamic visual solutions for her clients, whether it’s a fresh campaign or a professional headshot.

Here’s what Alissa had to say about how she got into photography and the hustle of the freelance lifestyle.

What made you decide to pursue a freelance career?

I like having a variety of work and constantly having new challenges to tackle. Freelancing allows me to constantly craft my career into what I want for my life and keep me interested.

How did you get into photography?

My mom let me use her camera, an Olympus OM-10, and I fell in love. It also runs in my blood, I have 120 film negatives from the 1900’s on my grandma's side. When I took a darkroom class in high school, I was hooked. 

Why do you do what you do?

I navigate the world through the lens, and I like studying people. Photography is perfect for that!

“I love a happy accident, and also when everything goes better than planned and magic is made.”

How do you feel when you’re working, doing what you love?

I love a happy accident, and also when everything goes better than planned and magic is made. 

How has photography changed your life?

I used to have severe social anxiety, like extreme. I got a gig photographing in night clubs and it was a sink or swim moment. A camera in my hand helped me get through it. 

“[Photography] runs in my blood, I have 120 film negatives from the 1900’s on my grandma's side. When I took a darkroom class in high school, I was hooked.”

What has been your favorite project to work on?

I recently re-created iconic fashion covers with the women of What RU Wearing, that was really challenging and fun! (Editor’s Note: check out that project here.)

Let’s end with a little LIGHTNING ROUND—

How has freelancing changed your life?

It's a challenge to balance, but I love the hustle!

What have you learned/gained from being a photographer?

How to talk to all sorts of people. How to create something from nothing. 

What have you learned/gained from freelancing?

How to HUSTLE.

What’s it like being in your line of work?

Challenging but worth it!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Connect with more mentors in the industry earlier on.


To learn more about Alissa and her photography visit her website, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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