The best part about this job is a) discovering new and exciting things, and b) showing them off to you, our readers. So it's with that in mind, that we're excited to introduce you to a talented photographer who is just getting his start.
Paul Allison is only 15 years of age, but you wouldn't be able to tell that from his portfolio or from the wisdom he brings to the table in his answers below. This Northern Kentucky teen — beyond a love of taking photos — runs cross country and is a member of two choirs, the Cincinnati Boychoir along with his high school choir.
And without further adieu, we're gonna turn the mic over to the young photographer himself.
Cincinnati Refined: How did you get into photography?
Paul Allison: I returned from vacation two years ago with some pretty good pictures that I had taken on my iPhone, and I decided to make a photography Instagram page. And it all snowballed from there. About a year later, I started using a DSLR, rather than my phone. [It was one] that my mom had bought a couple years earlier but rarely used.
CR: What's your favorite subject to shoot?
PA: This is a really hard question to answer because I enjoy shooting so many different things! Some of the things that I most enjoy shooting are waterfalls, cityscapes, wildlife, and the sky at sunset.
CR: Coolest and/or most memorable experience when shooting…
PA: This summer, I took a trip out to the Pacific Northwest with my choir and was fortunate enough to be able to bring my camera. While there, we went to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, which was my first time to any mountains besides the Smokies. I was blown away by the 360-degree view of surrounding snow-capped peaks! Some of my favorite pics that I’ve ever taken were taken there, but pictures could never capture the full beauty of it.
CR: What’s at the top of your photography bucket list?
PA: It would be awesome to take a 2-3 week road trip out West and hit some awesome spots along the way (e.g. Grand Canyon, Golden Gate Bridge, etc.) with some friends. Because of my age, this would be hard to do soon, but in a couple of years, I’ll definitely try and do this.
CR: What's your camera of choice and the one lens you can’t live without?
PA: I use a Canon EOS 60D, which is an older Canon model, but I absolutely love it. I haven’t really tried any other cameras, but I would love to try out the Canon EOS 80D, Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, and Sony Alpha a9. As far as lenses go, I’d say that my favorite is the kit lens that came with the 60D, the Canon EFS 18-135mm. As much as I do love wide-angle and telephoto lenses, the 18-135mm is perfect for a wide variety of things like nature, urban, portraits, etc.
CR: Do you have any photographer role models? If so, who are they, and why do they inspire you?
PA: For me, being relatively early in my photography career, having role models is extremely important. Most of the photographers that I look up to are local, and I’ve had the honor to meet most of them. The main photographers are Nick Brown, Steve Zeinner, Mason Hopfensperger, Jake Blucker, Griffin Lamb, and Preston Saunders. Not only do I look up to them because of the amazing pictures they take and their skill sets, but also because they are so friendly and down-to-earth. For someone just starting, it means the world when one of them writes something nice on Instagram or is willing to answer a question I have.
CR: How would you describe your photographic style?
PA: It’s hard to describe my photographic style because it’s all over the place, to be honest. A lot of people would say this isn’t a good thing; but to me, I like exploring a lot of styles. Some of my pictures have warm vibes and are at sunset, while others are dark and moody. And I have ones everywhere in between.
CR: What’s your advice for someone who wants to get into photography?
PA: Do it! And if you like it, don’t stop! There’s no way to know if you’ll like photography if you don’t try it. And if you do like it, don’t be focused on expensive gear and software when you first begin. To be 100% honest, an iPhone camera is one of, if not, the best cameras for beginners. That’s how I started, and some of my favorite pictures that I’ve ever taken and edited were taken on my phone. If you do start using a DSLR, the best thing that you can do is read a book on how everything works… because, trust me, it’s a lot to handle at first.
CR: Motto to live by?
PA: “Walk alone until good people walk with you.” I think this motto is true both in photography and everyday life. From a young, beginner’s perspective, it may not seem “cool” to do photography when you first start. And people can tell you whatever they want, but the only thing that matters is if you love doing it. [If you do], then keep at it. Eventually, after being alone for a bit, you will find people that share your perspective.
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