Who are you and what did you do?
My name is Aleksandra Was and I am a portrait and wedding photographer.
I was born and raised in Central Poland until the age of 12 before my family and I moved to the United States. I have lived in the hot Arizona desert for about 6 years. Roughly 6 years ago, my senior year of high school, my family and I made another major move all the way north of the USA to Kalispell, MT. After I’ve graduated from the local community college (FVCC) with an Associate of Science degree, I took a gap year to decide what I wanted to continue to study at the university. In that period of time, I had the opportunity to live in Vancouver, Canada; Montpellier, France; and my hometown Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland.
Initially, when I moved to the USA, my language comprehension and speaking skills were very poor, which kept me away from social integrations for as much as possible. Spending my days behind the TV at home, I needed to change something. My mom’s friend owned a camera and would often show us beautiful places she’s visited and portraits of family and friends that displayed so much happiness. Shortly after that, I decided to invest in a digital camera and the rest is history. Photography has allowed me to express myself and create timeless memories for myself and my clients now. It pulled me out of a funk that I was dealing with at that stage of life and continues to be a positive asset to my life.
After my year off, I decided that photography will always be something I am passionate about and I wanted to do everything I can to keep growing as a creative. Returning to the university I wanted to study something that would help my personal and professional development. I wanted to turn my passion into a career and learn how to be a business owner and a promoter of my own self. I chose to study Marketing and International Business to do just that.
In addition, once I moved to Missoula, I begin looking to connect with other creatives who would help me grow because I believe that having a sense of community is important for individual growth and much more. I came across an Instagram story of a local wedding photographer who was in search of an assistant. This was a lightbulb moment for me and the perfect opportunity to learn from a mentor who is not just talented but runs a successful local business. After the first interview, it was clear that our personalities clicked and shortly after I was on board. I started helping with social media posts, second shooting, and postproduction; learning everything I was craving to know. A few months later, I became an associate photographer under the brand, which meant I was taking on my own clients and was responsible for all things client related. To this day, I feel like I had hit the jackpot! I had a mentor who gave me constructive feedback and believed in my willingness to grow, allowing me to learn along our journey.
In the fall of 2019, I will be a UM Alumni and I feel like all the opportunities I was fortunate to have along the way have prepared me to understand that the world is always changing. Having an open mind, willingness to learn, and a humble personality has proven that anything is possible.
How is your work space set up?
I don’t have one specific workspace. Being in the creative/freelance business I have the flexibility to work wherever I have access to charge my laptop. Most often, I like to go to local coffee shops or just the university workroom to plug myself into my work and focus my full attention if it’s work I need to get done during the day. At night, I sit in my living room and get myself plugged in.
What does your typical day look like?
Now that the semester is in full swing, I have a quite consistent routine. It begins with a good cup of black coffee, a bike ride to class, brunch, some type of workout at least 4-5 days a week, errands, and ends with me in front of my laptop getting work or homework done. I find myself most productive in the afternoon after I know that I utilized daylight time well. Being an extrovert and a person who thrives off of human interactions and sunny days, I normally cannot focus my attention on tasks that require effort and concentration while the sun is still shining outside my window. Normally, I check my planner throughout the day to keep me on track and at the end of the night to prepare myself mentally for the day ahead, and to add anything that comes up.
What hardware do you use to make your content?
The software I use for my post-production includes Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, Bridge, and the Camera Raw extension, Photoshop, and Blog Stomp. In that order, Photo Mechanic allows me to quickly sort through thousands of photos one by one and select the best ones by loading the images in seconds. Generally, I take around 3,000-5,000 wedding photos, so being able to quickly select the best 1,000 to transfer into Lightroom to edit saves me hours of work. The next software I open after I’m done culling is Lightroom. In Lightroom I am able to edit multiple images at once, also called batch edit. Before taking on clients and doing photography for myself, I did not have a billion photos to sort through or edit so the programs I used were Bridge and Photoshop. Bridge allows me to look through the images fairly fast. When I need to extend the borders of the photo or do more detailed editing, I open my image in Photoshop. Photoshop is a great tool for detailed changes for a single or a hand full of photos. Lastly, Blog Stomp is a program that allows me to take high-resolution photos and compress them into website size, as well as make collages in that size. I always use it when I post a blog on my website.