We had the good fortune of connecting with Alycee Byrd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alycee, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My work-life balance has changed over time in the sense that now I give myself more time for life outside of work. When I first started photography I was on a hard grind shooting almost every weekend while in college, whenever I had free time I was doing photo shoots. And up until recently, I was keeping up the same mentality that every moment without a photoshoot was some kind of a failure or a sign that I am unsuccessful. But with the recent pandemic and more clarity within my business plan and my overall life and career goals, I realize that days off and non-busy days are a blessing. Not only for my own physical health as shoots are very draining but also for my business’ is health. Off days are great admin days where I can answer emails, organize my equipment, research new techniques, etc.
I was listening to a zoom interview with a duo of established photographers and one thing they said that stuck out to me the most was how they talked about work-life balance. They said something along the lines of, boring days/days without work are a blessing. Days off are God’s way of telling you that you deserve to rest.
For the longest time, I did not allow myself to understand that I deserve breaks. I have recently been giving myself more time off, leaving specific days and sometimes even weeks in between my shoots rather than shooting every chance I get. I’m learned to say “no” to opportunists that infringe on my rest periods. This does not only help my own personal well-being but also helps with my creative mindset. Allowing myself to more downtime in between my work has given my creative thinking the space it needs to create new ideas and thrive without feeling pressured to constantly create and put out new work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I never intended to be a photographer. I didn’t grow up inheriting a camera, in fact, I used to borrow my high school friend’s camera every time we hung out, I didn’t get my first camera until I was 17 years old. I wanted to start posting my own content for my Tumblr blog. I would ask to borrow my family’s digital camera, reserved for family vacations, and would sneak away to take pictures for my growing Tumblr following. I had no idea I would go from shooting grainy photos of my mom’s rose garden to shooting published fashion editorials.
I had so many other hobbies that I loved. It wasn’t until halfway through high school when I started to take an interest in becoming a professional photographer. My photography journey started with conceptual self-portraits, where I used photography as an outlet to escape my depression. I started taking self-portraits and learned how to manipulate and color grade the images in photoshop. I was creating new worlds to distract me from my own. As I got older, things got better, I graduated from the kids who bullied me and gained confidence in myself. Fast forward to my junior year of college, I came back from my semester abroad and got diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Lupus. This is an incurable condition in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. I lost my hair and 20 pounds. I had a bi-weekly blood test, ten pills a day, and paralyzing pain. Photography was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t know how I was ever going to go back to school or live a “normal” life. But with persistence, strength, and trust, my doctors and I have been able to successfully control my condition so that I can continue my life normally.
So in summary, not a smooth road, but for better or for worse, life is all about change. My life has always been about overcoming obstacles and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
My photography is very personal to me. Each model, concept, and story is crafted with care and elaborate execution. Every choice is deliberate.
As a black woman, I am an advocate of diversity. I make it her duty to capture black beauty and people of color, placing them in dreamy editorials and stories that embrace their unique beauty. As a photographer, I believe I have the power to change the narrative. To give other black and brown viewers access to images that they can relate to, images that they can feel beautiful and loved just by looking at. I pride myself on working with diverse teams and models to achieve this goal.
I’ve coined the term “chaser of light and rainbows” for myself after my love of natural light and rainbow flares. I’m very much a “sun person”. Meaning I get my energy from the sunlight. I used to go on walks at random times of the day just to see how the sun shines differently. Rainbows have always been my love since I was a little girl. I remember being so fascinated by the uniqueness and rarity of rainbows. I remember the pure excitement of running outside to look for this colorful majesty after heavy rainfall. My rainbow flare mixed with my dynamic portraits is my signature brand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The great thing about Greensboro, NC is the variety of landscapes. You can go downtown to the local taco restaurant, lounge a coffee shop, and window shop the vintage stores. Or you can travel 30mins out and expernce the beauty of nature, with one of the several greenways and hiking trails. If you’re looking for something more interactive and informative you can visit the Weatherspoon Art Muesum or the Civil Rights Museum.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my two photography mentors. One from high school and one from college. My high school mentor was an encouraging voice of reason when I first started photography. She taught me a lot of the business side of things. Her advice is the reason why I decided to major in Marketing instead of photography.
Secondly my college mentor was my boss at my Univerity Communications internship. He taught me a lot about trusting myself and my vision. He always reassured me of my talent and taught me how to work smarter not harder.