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Life & Work with Alison Barnes Martin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Barnes Martin.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
It was a fluke. There was a kid with a camera that I saw my freshman year and I asked him if I could borrow it and he let me. I was hooked.

I usually tell people I’m 80% photographer, 20% human. And, even though I say this in jest, it really is true. I love the printed page, from the Sears & Roebuck catalogue at age seven to a glossy European magazine from today; I couldn’t and can’t keep myself from falling into that beautifully lit and styled photographic page.

I care deeply about making good images and I believe everyone deserves a good image of themselves. For me, it’s about making a quick connection with someone and making them feel at ease. I photograph corporate executives, people who are starting businesses, and people who need a small library of images for social media. I also shoot a variety of headshots for models, singers, dancers and voiceover talent. I believe that your image is everything!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s been a long road. I had a great career at Hallmark Cards, Inc. I learned a lot, but I was young and green and thought that I knew everything. Ha! I’d be a much better employee today.

I left Hallmark, had kids, and missed what I did terribly. I had hunger and chutzpa and found a rep to represent me in the Midwest. As a freelancer, I had the freedom to make my own choices and hire the people I wanted—I had great assistants. But photography started to change and with better and better digital cameras, art directors and stylists started shooting. I scaled back, changed my business model, and started making connections with people in Kansas City.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I like to connect with people. I like to really see them; who they are, how they want to be seen.

Presentation is 85%. Your image is often the first glimpse of how people perceive you.

I ask clients who THEY want as clients; who they want to attract. I then try and ask the question that helps them visualize who they are and how they want to be seen. I use a lot of adjectives to parse out an answer.

I also partner with them to make the best image. I shoot to computer and we look at the image as a whole. Then we look at lighting, wardrobe, hair, and makeup. Everything. I have some clients who let me do my thing. I have others who want to be hands on. My job is to make them happy.

My goal is to have a relationship. I become their photographer. I’m the person that they text if they want to buy their husband a camera as a gift. I’m the person that they call when they have a new hire and need more photography. I’m the person that they want to meet with when they change their creative direction . When these things happen, I know I’ve done my job.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
This is a great question! Yes, be out in the world! Make connections. There are so many groups and organizations that have great networking and learning opportunities. I’ve been on boards and joined organizations that have been really meaningful. I’ve had regret when I’ve said no to something, but I’ve never regretted saying YES!

You never know what’s around the corner or what might happen to your career when you are out in the world and full-hearted.


  • Portraits begin at 180.00

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alison Barnes Martin photography

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  1. Carol Bates

    August 20, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    Alison is a genius with a camera – even makes old people look great.

  2. Kelly Robben

    August 25, 2021 at 7:18 am

    To know Alison Barnes is to love her! She brightens the room and her work reflects her care in truly connecting to others and the world around her.

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