Alicia Williams, the owner of Cordele Photography, tells us about her passion for photography and where the inspiration comes from.
Where are you from? What brought you to Boston?
I am originally from Westwood and summered on Cape Cod in West Harwich. Once I got married, I moved to Reading with my husband and kids, where I still live today.
I consider myself a Bostonian through and through as evidenced by my love of the city itself, especially when it serves as such an amazing backdrop in so many of my wedding photos, to my love of the area’s local sports teams, including the C’s, B’s and the Sox. Actually, I love the Red Sox so much, I named my cat after Nomar Garciaparra (and then the Sox traded him the very next day). So, in short, when you ask what brought me to Boston, I guess the simplest answer is that “I love that dirty water…Boston you’re my home!”
What got you into photography?
Taking pictures has always been my creative outlet, even as a little kid. There is something about seeing a shot that nobody else sees that is so freeing and fulfilling to me, I just can’t wait to snap the photo and share it with the world. When it came time to choose a career after college though, I ended up working at the Dana Farber Hematology Oncology lab as a doctor/patient liaison to make some money while I sharpened my photography skills on the side. I learned a lot about client service and the importance of responsiveness through this position, but I quickly learned that a “desk job” wasn’t for me.
Next, I worked as an assistant to a local photographer that was willing to take a chance on me and help me turn my passion into a career. I spent nearly every single day for more than I year working by my mentor’s side, honing my skills and learning the tricks of the trade until he told me I was ready to go out on my own. When we talked about me opening up my own business, I remember him saying that when we first started working together I was a caterpillar, but now, over time, I had become a butterfly and was ready to fly out on my own. His friendship, tutelage, patience and expertise helped make me the photographer that I am today and I will always be grateful for the time and knowledge he instilled in me during that formative time in the beginning of my career.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I would describe my photos as modern but sensual, meaning I am looking for unique shots but ones that really capture the beauty of love and life and all of the looks, emotions and human touches that come in between. So, I would say I find my inspiration from the couples I meet and the love that they share. I spend time with them to learn what they are like together as a couple in order to plan my sessions accordingly and encapsulate those feelings in my photos on their special day. I am able to bring out their best and truest selves in order to deliver shots that really depict how they feel about each other, and the love that surrounds them through family and friends.
Where’s your favorite place your work has taken you?
I have been in business for more than 12 years, and my work has taken me to some pretty amazing places during this timeframe. I have shot weddings all over the Boston area and I love all of the scenery that the city has to offer, like the rustic brick, historic landmarks and beautiful skyline. I would say within the city limits, my favorite locations include: Boston Harbor Islands, Hyatt Harborside Hotel, Joseph Moakley Courthouse and the North End. I also have shot weddings down the Cape, on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, as well as in surrounding locations like Block Island, Newport and Long Island.
I have been fortunate enough to have my job take me to some pretty exotic locations as well, from Miami Beach (my home away from home) to as far as Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But I would say my favorite place that my work has taken me thus far in my career is Hawaii. The natural beauty and scenery is just so overwhelming and makes for the perfect portrait or wedding landscape. And you can’t beat the weather during the downtime.
What else do you like to do in your free time?
In my “free time” I am a mom to three children under the age of six, which keeps me on my toes. Luckily I love every minute of being a mom and am able to memorialize their adventures and milestones through photos (when I remember to bring my camera). I have learned through years that I can be both a great mom and have the job of my dreams. I have become very adept at balancing my work and home life responsibilities by sometimes working on “off hours” to keep things organized and fluid for my clients. So for example, I typically work on such things as editing photos, retouching portraits, back-filing client portfolios and uploading final images for hours after the kids go to bed, which gives me time during the day to check-in with clients, respond to emails/voicemails, shoot sessions, all while being the best mom I can be to my three kids.
One piece of advice or motto that you strongly endorse.
It’s hard to whittle down all of the wise words and mottos I strongly believe in and offer just one, because there are so many that I try to follow closely both personally and professionally. In everything I do, I always try to be a good person to people, to offer help and friendly advice when I am able, because I think that the energy you put into the world will come back around at some point in your life. So, I suppose the best motto to capture those feelings is “you reap what you sow.”
Along those same lines, in terms of advice, I believe in the power of paying it forward. For example, when I do portraits for local clients in my community, I always make a donation from what I earned to the Reading food pantry. I know there are individuals and families that are struggling, and I feel blessed to have a healthy family and a growing business, so I know whatever I can give will make a difference for someone in need. I think everyone can benefit from random acts of kindness and I try to live my life thinking about how my actions, no matter how seemingly small, can impact the lives of those around me.