Ithaca is People: Allison Usavage
The #IthacaisPeople Files
Week 9: Weaving Together Ithaca's Story
Community focused photographer. When we asked our latest @VisitIthaca takeover to describe herself in three words, the answer was simple. And we couldn't agree more.
Allison Usavage has pioneered the modern way to be a village storyteller. Through her series of photos for farms and "glamp sites," bakeries and Wizarding Weekends, Allison uniquely ties together what many feel is that indescribable feeling of Ithaca.
You have a really amazing Instagram account, and you also have a blog that highlights your photography. What else do you do?
I'm freelance - photography and other kinds of content creation, so I help businesses with their photography and video work, and content strategy.
You also run a pop up photo booth -
(Laughter) Yep, that too.
- that you do at various events. I'm wondering what your favorite part about the pop up photo booths are?
I like watching people figure it out. Because they always do one set of photos first, then it's always the second time they do it where they're organizing themselves, and like saying "okay, we smile in the first picture, pose happy on the second picture, and it's always the same sequence. It's always happy, excited, silly, happy. (Laughs)
So you've got it down?
There's like a manual!
That's too funny. So you have a large focus on storytelling, and you talk about that a lot on your website, as well as you can see it in your Instagram photos. Why do you think Ithaca is a prime location for storytelling?
There's just so much great stuff going on here. I guess - I came to college here and stayed in Ithaca because I think it's a great place to live, because there's something for everyone to do. And the best way to communicate that to people, I think, is by telling the story of what happens here - in not just one photo, but a series of photos - so that's how I work as a freelancer, is trying to weave together a narrative with multiple images.
And what are some of your favorite things to shoot within those stories?
I really like shooting the agriculture and culinary community here. I've worked a lot with Wide Awake Bakery - they're an awesome example of people just doing something that they're really passionate about and spreading that passion through their business.
I've seen some of those photos - they're wonderful! Is there a particular story that you think needs to be conveyed about Tompkins County that hasn't yet? Or a story that you'd really love to tell?
I don't think there's anything that hasn't been conveyed through some channel, but it's fun to draw connections between different stories that are being told in different ways. So I have an online magazine called What's Good, Ithaca? and my goal with that is to share stories - so, we have these kind of siloed communities, like people focused on agriculture, and people really focused on human rights, and people really focused on academic stuff. By telling stories, by getting an audience that is from all of those different sections of our community, and then telling stories that cross those section lines, you're kind of breaking down those barriers and drawing connections. So what I really like to do is not discover new stories, but draw the connections between ones that already exist.
Describe yourself in three words.
I should have been prepared for this because I read everyone elses! (Laughs) Community focused photographer - does that work?
Yes - that's a good one! Final question: if you could describe Ithaca in one word, what would it be?
Home. I like that. No one has said that yet.
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