The Architectural Digest Design Show draws some 400 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors to the pier buildings along Manhattan’s Hudson shoreline each year.
It’s a dizzying marketplace of products and services, innovations and ideas, all of which can sometimes blur together.
It takes something special, then, to stand out – and this past March, Allyson Monson did just that.
The Fairfield County photographer’s booth was an explosion of bold and powerful images that combined to create a singular statement about the power of art.
“I felt I was fresh,” Monson says in agreement, as WAG catches up with her after the fanfare of the show had died down. Having her own Allyson Monson Photography booth at AD for the first time was, she says, “rewarding on so many levels,” especially as she strives to move her business forward.
“I’m at that step when I do want to go big,” she says.
And she has clear ideas of how to do just that.
“I’ve learned that galleries are not where I want to be. My background is interior design. I love to see that process of a home coming together.”
Art, she says, offers “that little extra something.”
Monson says she loves working directly with designers and also showcases her work in a handful of home-décor boutiques including Nest Inspired Home in Rye, Current Home in Scarsdale to Tusk Home + Design in Westport.
It’s been about five years since Monson began to get serious about photography, something she studied during college days at the University of Rhode Island. Keeping up with the constant innovations in photography – from exploring camera technology to the printing process to framing options – has Monson considering herself “self-taught” at this point.
But it’s truly been the culmination of a lifetime of experiences and influences.
“People always say ‘What kind of photography do you do?’ and I always say ‘Everything.’”
From its street art to its lights, New York City remains a favorite subject, but Monson will not simply photograph someone’s mural and turn it into her own image.
“That’s their artwork,” she says of the original. But if there’s someone in the shot – or some additional graffiti that turns the original into a social commentary, that’s when it becomes “a little more interesting.”
These days, she says, people are embracing color in life and décor – and she often finds that on her global travels. Sometimes it’s found on the streets of Barcelona, the coastline of Portugal, the heights of Machu Picchu, which she found surprisingly moving, or in the random moments of a solo road trip from Utah to California.
While her eye is unique, Monson says that she strives to create work that makes people look at their world more closely – “that’s when it speaks to people.”
Though she often has her camera, Monson does make a point not to take it everywhere, such as days when she has back-to-back meetings. But yes, she admits with a ready smile, she’s always thinking of shots, even, for example, when sitting around a fire pit at a friend’s house.
Monson can find inspiration in the now – as in a gift from her husband of an Annie Leibovitz MasterClass – or in the past.
Growing up between Putnam and Westchester counties, Monson says she has always been creative.
“I knew I wanted to be an artist by the time I was 5 years old,” she says, noting she was inspired by both her father’s work in the creative side of the entertainment field and her mother’s taking her to museums and galleries. “My mom was notorious for taking that Saturday drive to Cold Spring.”
That spirit of adventure has served Monson well.
“I’m a wanderer, so I don’t ever go to a specific place to shoot, other than the beach,” she says. “I typically go to a city to wander and look and find.”
And she’s clearly pleased that she took the steps to transition into photography. It was, she says, when some work for Pimlico Interiors in New Canaan proved successful that she felt ready to give it her all.
“I needed somebody else in the creative world, not just friends and family,” to validate her choice.
And Monson seems poised to receive much more validation as her work continues to develop, from subjects to techniques.
But for her, it seems to all come back to the basics, encapsulated in the way Monson signs off each email: “With light and color.”
For more, visit allysonmonsonphotography.com.