Fashion photoshoots, photography workshops and courses in digital photography — this is the world of Megan Alter
written by: Katharina Vorndran
artist: Megan Alter, meganalter.com
Bye bye big apple
10 years ago the girl, who never wanted to leave her home in Upstate New York, would probably never even have dreamed of the turn her life took.
Megan Alter studied design and photography at Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. After graduation she realized that to get a job in design she had to move from the countryside to the city, which was further away from home than she ever wanted to be. So in the summer of 2003 the Upstate girl moved into the concrete jungle where dreams are made . . . and this is where the story began: Instead of getting an internship she landed a job straightaway and from here on life was going better every year.
While there are so many women moving to the big apple to find love — it was love that drove Megan away. After only two weeks of knowing the man, who is now her husband, she gave up her job as a designer for an accessories company in 2008 and crossed the big lake to be with him. For someone who didn’t want to leave home, she’s gone a long way from where she began.
All of this happened seven years ago — now she’s one of Amsterdam’s highly demanded fashion photographers.
Amsterdam: Ground Zero – Megan’s way up
On her way to finding her own style in photography Megan’s been through quite a few stages. After graduation she felt very artistic and had a thing for shooting dead animals she found along the road…
While living in New York City Megan developed a strong portfolio in conceptual portrait photography, which means she doesn’t just point and shoot, but develops a specific concept for the shoot and uses the images to tell a story. Her work has been published and showcased in Good Light Magazine, Light Works Gallery New York, ZoomNL and many more.
When Megan started out in Amsterdam as a freelance photographer for the first time she did a lot of personal portrait shoots: boudoir photography for women, wedding photoshoots and pregnancy portraits. Every now and then she would do a fashion shoot. No matter what she was taking pictures of though, you would hardly ever find Megan in a photo studio. She prefers on-location shoots, where you have an environment to play with and give your photoshoot the right mood by working with different backgrounds and props.
After living in Amsterdam for a while one of Megan’s friends, who had just taken a photography class at the university, confessed to still not know how to use her camera in manual mode. This gave her the idea of establishing a course that teaches people photography in a hands-on lesson. Megan Alter Photography’s Digital Photography Basics and Advanced Digital Photography Courses are now two of the most demanded English speaking classes for photography around Amsterdam and The Hague.
For the first few years she taught all classes, which include five lessons and one field trip, by herself whenever there was a request. For the last three years now she found two fellow photographers, whom she trained to teach the courses, using Megan’s material and following a seasonal timetable.
In August 2012 Megan became the Educational Director of the Amsterdam Photo Club. A community of freelance and amateur photographers living in Amsterdam. What started out as a small meet-up group is now a community with more than 1,600 members and roughly 30 different photography events per year.
One of these events is The Real Shoot Experience. It’s a paid workshop for 8-10 people where Megan organizes a location, models and makeup artists for a themed photo shoot. In the past there were great results for themes like “Hunger Games” or “Great Gatsby”. The workshops consists of three meetings including the actual shoot day, a pre-production meeting, where advice on how to prepare is given, and a post-production meeting, where postproduction techniques are shown.
For some events there is even an exhibition party of the best images. Megan has a real love for themed photoshoots, because this way you can use your images to tell an entire story. The Real Shoot Experience is her way of passing on her knowledge and love for themed photoshoots to hobby photographers around Amsterdam.
Another recent project of Megan’s is a column on lifestyle and fashion called theModeCode. The fashion journal is written by stylist and model Rebeka Kadlicsek. Megan is the head photographer of the journal for 2015. Only this year Megan flew to Portugal for several fashion shoots for the column and also visited the International Fashion Week in Amsterdam with Rebeka to get a peek on the latest fashion trends for theModeCode readers.
It was this summer that Megan landed her biggest photography job so far. While shooting a wedding in Amsterdam she was discovered by Albelli, one of Europe’s biggest providers of photo books and online photo services with offices in more than seven countries. After the wedding she was invited to the Albelli headquarters in the Netherlands and offered a sponsorship as Albelli’s Summer Spokesperson. This is her second sponsorship so far – Megan has been supported by Shutterstock (one of the biggest stock image contribution websites) for three years now. As part of this sponsorship Albelli licensed 50 of Megan’s images for use in their marketing campaign as well as hiring her to photograph one of their TV Commercials.
In addition she wrote 6 articles sharing photography tips as well as images. These articles were then translated into 7 languages and featured as blog posts on all the Albelli websites in different countries. Under the name of “picture your summer” Megan gave tips on how to make the best vacation and summer images, featuring her own pictures. This was her biggest job and it made her realize how much fun working for a big company can be.
After the big Albelli job and by being more and more present in the fashion world the focus of Megan’s photography has slowly shifted from personal shoots to bigger companies and commercial fashion photoshoots. While the start of September means a new start for high school and university students worldwide — it also meant a new start for the brand Megan Alter Photography in 2015.
Over the last couple of months severe changes have been made to Megan’s website and target clients. She wants to get noticed as more than just a photographer but a brand with a wide range of high quality photography, that can be used to advertise big labels and companies. Working with Albelli has been a great start and opened Megan up for bigger projects and to reach higher than before. Megan Alter Photography is pursuing a new path and there is no end to it anytime soon.
All images: © Megan Alter