Henry David Thoreau said, “If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.”
For La Verne, California-based photographer Christina Albrigo, now 31, it took several years before she could take that step.
Although always smitten by photography, Christina pursued the safer, more practical path, majoring in finance at Cal Poly Pomona. After graduation she worked in the accounting and payroll department of a securities firm.
Although she was paying the bills, she was not paying full attention to her heart. After the birth of her first child, the young, numbers-crunching mother felt an even greater need to express her creative side.
So one day, summoning her superior budgeting skills, she gently persuaded her husband they would actually save money by shooting their own photos rather than hiring a photographer to preserve every birthday, anniversary and precious moment of their daughter’s life.
“Plus,” Christina recalled, “it was always such an ordeal to dress her appropriately, load up the car and drive an hour away to our chosen photographer and then wonder whether she would be cranky that day.”
After purchasing her first camera since high school, Christina discovered something else.
“I was actually quite good at it,” she said.
And she got even better with practice when two more daughters followed. She now has three — Kaya, Bella and Amelie — and they all positively glow through the lens of her Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera.
To take her photography from a hobby to a viable business, Christina had to overcome feelings of intimidation and insecurity, knowing that there were already thousands of more experienced photographers plying their trade.
As it turned out, Christina chose to see the bigger picture.
“The wonderful thing about photographers is that each of us sees and views the world differently,” she said. “There’s always room for one more who is willing to work hard.”
She’s self taught, and makes no apologies for it.
“I would take photos,” she said. “Sometimes, they were bad. Then I would Google, Why is my photo blurry?’”
Now the only time her photo is blurry is if that is her artistic intent. In fact, during wedding shoots, she likes using a tilt-shift lens to control the appearance of perspective in the image. She always pushing boundaries and F-stops to get to create that slightly edgier photograph.
Although Christina established herself as a children’s photographer, engaged couples also are giving her the nod to shoot their weddings. She is the calm eye in the center of the matrimonial storm.
“I can step back and remain calm,” Christina said, “when everyone around me is a bundle of nerves and excitement.”
Her accounting background is also proving a plus at weddings. She knows how to keep order when she is encircled by chaos.
“I can be bossy but in a nice sort of way, “Christina said.
Another key to Christina’s success is the support of her extended family. Her sister Melissa, the entrepreneurial owner of Premier Signs in San Dimas, lives on her same street and watches Christina’s children when she has to run off to a photo session.
“She really supports me,” Christina said. “We get along great and we don’t fight. We trade our kids back and forth all the time.”
Christina also has found a mentor in Loreta Washington, owner of the Earth Tone Photography studio in Southern California. “It’s wonderful to have photographer friends,” Christina said. “We support each other.”
Her mother, the first licensed massage therapist in San Dimas, is another source of inspiration.
But in the end, the work must be good enough to stand on its own, and again, Christina has succeeded with flying colors (and also in black and white).
In her relaxed way, she can draw out the best in her subjects. She gives them the space and the time to unwind and reveal their true personalities. Even with children, she’s not always looking to coax a smile or a happy face. She simply seeks that one true expression and connection with her and her camera. Above all, her photos convey and capture an unmistakable innocence and honesty.
It’s that pure essence that her growing legion of fans has responded to, making Christina and her baby, Bella Fiore Photography, one of the go-to, up-and-coming photography choices in the San Gabriel Valley.
To view more photos from Christina’s portfolio, take a peek below and also visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BellaFiorePhotography/timeline.
You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Christina will tell you, don’t be afraid to take that first step!