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Emotional Storytelling with Twyla Jones

Sep 18, 2020

Where does someone start if they want to create art for brands and businesses? How do you carve out a spot for yourself in the industry that’s unique to you, while also creating for a specific look?


Brand photography offers so many unique advantages – can be done anywhere and at any time, builds unique connections with companies, and you also have freedom to get a little weird.


Allyse Francis is a name you might recognize from our community and the amazing collage she made for our Facebook group. She’s an incredibly gifted artist and photographer in New York City who inspires us constantly with not just her mixed-media vibe collages, but also her stunning brand work, product photography, and portraits. She pushes the limits of creativity and has carved out a niche that fits her while still giving room for free expression.


In our conversation, we cover some of the things NOT to do when working with brands, how to practice self care as a creative, and the secrets behind her epic GIFs and collages!

Here's what we talked about...

How Allyse got started and what her creative journey has looked like. (1:00)

Allyse started into photography through modeling! Her friend, Tyler Babin in New York started things for her. One of her first photographer friends and inspiration is Taylor Brumfield. Allyse started with self portraiture and from there, grew into doing more fine art portraiture and surreal photo manipulation. When she moved to New York, she started doing product so that she could shoot anywhere – which led to GIFs and stop motion. She’s also getting into animation as well.

The joys of product photography. (6:00)

Allyse creates really fun, satisfying work that allows you to be really creative, but to focus on quality instead of quantity. It helps getting a client to create a mood board or Pinterest board to be able to know the feel and vibe of what a brand is expecting. Questionnaires asking about brand, ideal customer, etc is also really helpful. When you know what they want for their brand, you can create a lot more focused. “The scariest client of all is the one that’s not focused.” She talks about prop hunting and the highs and lows – make sure your client has a budget for props.

What NOT to do working with brands (12:15)

Don’t spend a bunch of money! Especially on backdrops that you’ll never use again. If you’re going to buy a backdrop, buy vinyl from a well respected company because you’ll put them through hell. Get something that’s stain resistant. “Use the sun, the sun’s your friend.” She has a few panel lights, but you don’t need to buy a million things. Using construction and railroad paper is super helpful too for backdrops. Shadow play is also really popular right now – use the things around you. There’s a bunch of stuff hanging around your house that looks really cool on camera. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the perfect shot.”

Advice for being getting started doing branding work. (16:45)

Her best advice is just to start. Eventually, you’ll need to niche down and find your unique style. When you’re just starting out, play with everything. “If you want to get into branding work, just shoot and create little concepts for yourself and once enough time has gone by, ask yourself what you like and what you don’t like about certain styles and then once you have that down, just go in the style you like. But at the same time don’t be afraid to change it up when you no longer feel like it’s fun.”

Tips for creatives dealing with burnout. (19:00)

Burnout is a normal part of the process – sometimes daily or weekly – so you have to constantly be proactively doing things in your daily life to feel inspired. Allyse does physical things to work out the stress: yoga, walking the dog, running, etc. It helps her get out of her head and physically present in her body. There’s anxiety that can come from reaching success because there’s pressure to keep creating better work. It’s hard to move on and pick yourself up after successful moments too. “You’ve got to taste your work.” Enjoy the doing and the creation process.

We discuss balance between creative work and living life, the value of decompressing and turning off the work mode. It’s so easy to get overloaded on learning and not actually creating your own work. I share about learning Tik Tok and just experimenting and creating until you get better. Allyse shared about going viral on Tik Tok and how it involves creating consistent content to actually gain a following. We discuss how Facebook is such a struggle, but photography groups like ours is what keeps us there. 

Concept to creation of surrealism and collage artwork. (35:30)

It started with this bird cage image below. (NSFW)

When it comes to collages, she thinks initially of what she wants in them. Floral and fem or darker and raw. “I don’t know what fits until it fits.” So much of the process involves going with you gut. There’s no step 1, 2, and 3 or a magical formula. It’s all flexible and full of experimentation. Your final idea might be totally different than what works. Sleep on your work and see how you feel about it in the morning – then repeat.

I dish a few of my tips for Instagram Reels as well, like having to share your Reels to your feed so your followers see and like it which pushes it up in the algorithm so a whole new audience can find you!  You can also hide it from your feed as well.


Where to find Allyse:
Personal Collages

Video/Stop Motion/GIFs
Commissioned Work