One day when scrolling through Instagram, I came across an account by Alana Paterson. Holy shit! I forgot about good ol’ Alana. I worked with her at a shop in Vancouver what seems like a lifetime ago. Nine years ago I left Canada and moved to California and lost track of a lot of people, one of them being Ms. Paterson. I checked out her portfolio and noticed she had been working with the likes of the The Hundreds, Brixton, Norse, Poler, and more. I’m really digging her photography style and had to share her talents with those who haven’t come across her yet. I decided to reach out and see what she’s been up to.
Hey Alana! Long time no chat. For those who may not have come across your work yet, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Alana Paterson. I am from the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. I’m currently living in North Vancouver. I have a BFA from Emily Carr University in Vancouver as well as Lesley University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Back when we were working together in Vancouver, I think you were shooting skate and then you were gone. I think you went off to Europe? I can’t remember now, I was drinking a shitload back then… It’s almost been a decade, what happened since our shop days?
Haha. Well I worked one summer on my uncle’s farm after university and took the money I made and moved to Europe for three years or so. Then I came back and helped run the farm (in the summers) for the last 5 years. In the winters, I usually move somewhere like New York, Portland, or Copenhagen. This year I stayed on the West Coast. Things are changing and I’m starting to desire a more settled life.
Are you still shooting a lot of skateboarding or have you transitioned out of that? What do you like shooting most these days?
Hmm... I still shoot skate but it has never been my focus. Skateboarding is something I understand and am around and really enjoy, so naturally there was cross over. I would never consider myself a skateboard photographer. Every once in a while I see someone doing something that gets my hyped and I’ll shoot it, and every once in a while someone takes me on tour or sends me out with someone but for the most part I’m a lifestyle/editorial photographer.
I’m sure there are a lot of kids reading this who are interested what you’re doing and wanting to know how to get into creative fields. How did you first get into photography? When did you know that you wanted to do this as a living?
Well... I didn’t really know I wanted to do it for a living because I didn’t think I ever could. It was just something I was drawn to and couldn’t quit even if I tried. Luckily for me I was able to translate images in a way people relate to and things fell into place from time to time. Haha.
When did you get your paying first gig? How long was that after you graduated from school? What did that feel like for you?
During school I had a lot of editorials run, mostly one off images so I made a little pocket money from that. Then when I was living in Denmark, a rad Danish company called Norse asked me to shoot some stuff for them and that worked out well. It sort of snowballed from there.
How did you hook up with the Hundreds and get to shoot their lookbook?
For The Hundreds, their producer at the time Bianca hired me.
Is there anything about photography that you don’t like? How do you feel about apps having everyone believe they are photographers? Do you care? Does it bug you?
I don’t like how much I have to use the internet. It feels like if you take a break from social media, you’re out of sight, out of mind. You have to be constantly on that shit. It’s a bummer but that’s just how it goes now.
Do you have any interesting projects in the works right now?
I’m working on a project about rodeo youth, the positive impact it has on rural communities and the values that it teaches such hard work, skill development, leadership, a sense of community, and heroes. All things that are easily lost on today’s youth, especially ones living in rather isolated communities.
I’m a hardcore nomad and love to ask people about their favorites meals while traveling. Name yours.
Every place I go to, I usually eat or drink something that blows my mind. The fish tacos in Sayulita, Mexico, were mind-boggling. Anytime we go camping, we always make really nice big campfire dinners. That’s my favorite.
What’s your typical daily carry?
Nikon f100 and a bag of film.
What can you not travel without?
Nikon f100 and a bag of film.
Any last words?
The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.
Visit Alana’s website at alanapaterson.com
On Instagram: @alanapaterson