We had the good fortune of connecting with Alicia Countryman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alicia, how do you think about risk?
I have never really considered myself to be a risky person, but when I think back over the last 15 years of my life, taking risks is what has gotten me to where I am today. If I hadn’t taken the risk in high school to audition for drama school, I wouldn’t have moved to Los Angeles and met a couple of my closest friends. If I hadn’t taken the risk to move to Las Vegas on my own in my early twenties, I would not have met my husband. If I hadn’t taken the risk of quitting my office job to pursue photography full time, I wouldn’t have the succeeded with my business. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine and sometimes scary to think about deviating from that routine, but without taking some kind of risk, especially when it comes to investing in and running a business, you’ll never get anywhere. It’s easier for me to take action when I have specific goals in mind and when I want something bad enough. For example, I always wanted to travel outside of the country, and my husband and I would say, “Someday we’ll go to Europe.” In 2018 after seeing my friends and family travel to Italy, live in Germany, and travel to Taiwan, I set a specific date for a trip to Scotland: October 2019. We saved money every paycheck and found some great deals on flights and accommodations, and last October we were able to have our dream vacation. It took setting a specific goal and a year and a half of planning, determination, and some risk, but the pay off was something I would never regret. Taking risks and putting yourself out there can be terrifying because you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone, and nobody likes that. But something I always tell myself when I start to get anxious is “Imperfect action beats perfect inaction.”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve always loved photography, but I didn’t consider pursuing professionally until 2008. I feel like I’ve photographed all of the genres: portraits, weddings, events, products, maternity, sports, food, landscapes… Most recently I’ve decided to focus solely on commercial work (product photography and personal branding) and weddings. The most common thing I hear from my clients about my work is how comfortable I make them feel in front of the camera and how great I am at capturing natural moments. I love working with clients who give me creative freedom and trust that the results will be phenomenal. I started out teaching myself the basics of photography. I took some remote courses with the New York Institute of Photography, and in 2015, I decided to go back to school to get my AA in Digital Photography. Through my professors, I got two internships: a TA for a digital photography class, and a product photographer for a medical supply company. While I was going to school, I also partnered with local magazines to photograph families, students, events, and small business owners around North County San Diego. That job gave me a lot of exposure and led to a contract photography position with the City of Vista. I hasn’t been an easy 12 years. Photography has mostly been a side gig for me, but in May I made the decision to leave my office job and focus entirely on my photography business. COVID-19 has definitely caused things to be slower, especially with weddings, but I continue to do work for the City of Vista and book weddings out of state. I also now work as a Photography Specialist for a luxury item outlet. Patience and determination have been key to my success over the last 12 years. Nothing happens overnight. As much as I would have loved for all of this to have happened 10 years ago, I feel like everything fell into place when it should have.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There’s so much to see and do in San Diego County. Being in North County, I would probably take them to my favorite coffee shop, Old Cal Coffee, in San Marcos. I’d take them to Double Peak Park for one of the best views of the county. If they’re up for a little hiking, Elfin Forest is great. We’d probably take a day trip up to Julian for some apple cider and a slice of apple pie. Carlsbad Village is a great place to walk around to eat and shop, and it’s close to the beach, too. Balboa Park and Hotel Del Coronado are absolute musts, too, and for great views of the San Diego skyline, I would take them to Tom Ham’s Lighthouse on Harbor Island.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, James, has always been a loving support for me. He encourages me to pursue my dreams, no matter how out there they can be. He even makes a great photo assistant sometimes. My parents and my brothers have always been supportive of me and everything I’ve wanted to do, including moving half-way across the country when I was only 18 years old.
Alicia Jeanne Photography