Not everyone loves to work alone in the dark, but for Woodbury photographer Alissa Coddington, the dark room was a bright spot during her time as a student. “It was my favorite place to be,” says Coddington. “Learning about light and composition, I loved just listening to music and watching the creation of something.” Coddington graduated with a degree in photography (and, fun fact, archeology), but it took a while for her to find the footing to pursue it as a career long-term. “I didn’t know anything about running a business and wasn’t comfortable putting myself out there,” she says.
Photo by Alissa Coddington
“I gave up at that point.”
As a new mom, Coddington pursued a career in childcare, working in that industry for 10 years. She had always kept photography on the brain, but it wasn’t until her own experience with a less-than-great photographer that she decided to go for it. “We had a really terrible photographer experience while visiting a family member,” says Coddington. “He didn’t know anything about posing or when to shoot; it was clear he wasn’t really a photographer, just a guy with an SLR camera.”
This led Coddington to consider starting her own business again. “I thought, ‘I love photography, and this is what I should be doing.’ I want my clients to have the best possible experience and walk away with images that they will treasure forever.” She officially opened her doors in September of 2018 and specializes in custom portraits and headshots.
Photos by Alissa Coddington
Each one of Coddington’s sessions starts with a consultation. “This is so we can talk about what they want out of the shoot,” she says. “What do they want to see in the end? How do they want to see themselves? I ask lots of questions.” She also wants to make sure that she is connecting personally with her clients. “The most essential part of any portrait is connecting to your subject and being able to get that genuine expression,” she says.
The consultation also features a chat about wardrobe and styling. Coddington’s sessions include professional hair and makeup. She then discusses background and setting for the photos, figures out the best lighting to fit the mood and considers poses. “A portrait session is much more than showing up and snapping some photos,” Coddington says. “I like to plan it out and see it in my head before I do it. I don’t want to worry about any of that during the shoot so I can connect with my subject.”
Photos by Alissa Coddington
After the shoot, Coddington edits the images for a natural look. “It’s not even about retouching the person,” she says. “It’s finishing the photo. It’s about finessing it and making the end product more creatively finished.” She then presents final images to her client and they choose what to purchase. Afterward, she sends the images to print.
“The most important part to me is the last step, the actual printing,” says Coddington. She uses Graphistudio, an Italian company with its one US location situated in Oakdale. “You can see just every detail in the print, it almost makes the prints look like paintings,” she says.
With so many people relying on digital photos these days, Coddington wants to communicate the value of printed photographs. “Digital is great, but really truly not archival. If you think about it, we have generations of kids photographed every day, but will they ever see those photos?” wonders Coddington. “I want to start a kind of revolution and say, let’s print again, people! Hard drives fail, you need passwords to get into the cloud. Prints are a fantastic way to pass on our legacy.” Her clients receive both print and digital copies of their photos.