This photographer has her head in the clouds, and it’s gorgeous
Alicia Savage has created a world where solo travels pave the way for dreamlike creations. Her world is filled with vividly warm colors, intriguing scenery, and delicate dresses. Here, traveling alone is not synonymous with fear—it is instead filled with self-exploration and artistic curiosity.
For her ongoing Destinations series, Savage devised an array of self-portraits that are, in one word: ethereal. They are surreal, yet full of emotion. Eerie, yet heavenly. In short, they can be interpreted in various ways. Viewers can use their own experiences to explore the photographer’s work, to put a face to the faceless.
So that we may take a peek inside her creative brain, Alicia has kindly agreed to answer a few of our most pressing questions.
HelloGiggles (HG): I find your photographs to be both dreamy and inspiring, which leads me to wonder, what inspires you?
Alicia Savage (AS): My series Destinations was inspired by the examination of reality—in the sense of the internal and external environments we live in. Too often I would only trust what was physically relevant or practical, so I began venturing off on these spontaneous solo road trips as a way to detour from what was always familiar and routine. This allowed my curiosities to lead, so that I could document my mindset within the environments I was in.
HG: Many find the idea of traveling alone to be quite daunting. Has it ever been the same for you? Or, did the idea appeal to you?
AS: The truth—and great thing—is that when traveling alone, as long as you are open to new experiences and meeting new people, you are never truly alone. That was part of the intrigue and excitement of the trips— my direction and the roads I took were based on the experiences that occurred along the way. I was alone in the sense of being surrounded by what was unfamiliar from my daily environment, but I was rarely ever truly alone, except for when I photographed. One should always travel smart, but I feel we often fear too much. In addition, I feel it’s important to be comfortable with only one’s thoughts for a period of time. There is too much noise that is constantly distracting us.
HG: When I look at your self-portraits, I detect an element of spontaneity. Almost as if a moment in time has been frozen. On the other hand, I’m sure a lot of thought goes into your work. What is your creative process like?
AS: My photographs are a combination of both. As a daily exercise to identify themes, I would often spend 15-30 minutes jotting down any and every word that came into my mind. I would then later refer back to these lists to identify and connect repeating sequences of words and concepts that perhaps I had not been fully aware of. I would brainstorm how I could interpret these themes/concepts, visually, prior to photographing them. But there are often times I would also spontaneously photograph without any planning and allowed my subconscious to take over. For me, experimenting with both approaches is important.
HG: Has being in front of the lens taught you anything about yourself?
AS: This was my first experience of truly devoting myself to my personal work, and similar to other photographers just starting out, self-portraiture provided a broad and safe space to experiment within. I learned a lot about what my mind was focusing on, patterns of thoughts and emotions that I was perhaps disregarding before. This series allowed me to slow down and become more aware of who I was/am, as well as providing me with a new sense of independence.
HG: What is your favorite place that you’ve travelled to for Destinations? Why?
AS: Nova Scotia definitely holds a very special place in my heart. On one of my road trips, I found the old homestead my grandmother had grown up in. The house and the surrounding area are now abandoned, but incredibly beautiful and peaceful. It became a location that I could become completely lost in, while naturally feeling connected to it, providing me the perfect space to reflect and work within. It’s the location of many of my images in this series.
HG: What would be your advice to other self-portrait photographers who are just starting out?
(1) Trust your ideas and the process it requires to create them. Never disregard an idea because it feels small or irrelevant. Value the way your mind works and have patience in the growth and development of your ideas.
(2) Find a supportive community to share and discuss your work. Every month, a group of my closest friends and colleagues gather to discuss our personal work. It energizes and encourages us to move forward and further develop our ideas.
(3) Photograph, photograph, and photograph. Now, I can get sidetracked with this as well, but even the days you don’t want to photograph—get out there and create an image, or something that will develop your craft. Even if you don’t have a concept in mind, one image you took today may inspire another idea or a component you can apply later (composition, lighting/editing technique, sounds, etc).
(4) And most importantly: be proud and confident in what you create.
For those of you who want to learn from the master herself, she’s hosting an online workshop that will help you sharpen your Photoshop skills. It starts September 1st, so make sure to check it out before it fills up!