The Gallery highlights local photographers and makers that capture the essence of the people, place, and prosperity of Memphis’s vibrant economy. The works found in this gallery are aligned with visually showcasing the goal and mission of The Greater Memphis Chamber to “focus its efforts on providing economic growth for all—from breaking barriers to business growth today to creating long- term strategies for Memphis’ future.”
3RDSPACE has selected Ally Perkins' work to be displayed in the The Gallery at The Greater Memphis Chamber this season. Learn more about Ally in the interview below.
Q&A with Ally Perkins
What first drew you to photography—and how did you discover it?
For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with stories documented by photos. Whether I was stealing my moms film camera as a kid, to getting in big trouble for making a massive mess out of the family photos box, I couldn’t get enough of the stories frozen in time- they captivated me. After going through point and shoot cameras like crazy in the early 2000s, I received my first real DSLR in 2012. Being able to document the world from my own perspective changed everything for me. I spent 90% of the next three years teaching myself how to use my camera by documenting race cars at Memphis International Raceway. One day, it all clicked. As social media grew bigger and bigger, I came across a man on Instagram called “@WebRaw.” He explored abandoned places that I never imagined existed. IN OUR OWN CITY. Fast forward, I reach out and he offers to take me to my first abandoned building to see the skyline from the rooftop. I was hooked instantly. His passion for Memphis and his soul’s drive to discover the unseen was contagious- and I caught the bug.
Why did you select these photos to be displayed in The Gallery?
I selected these photos first to share how beautiful the grit and grind of my Memphis is although she was silently rotting away. The history and soul behind the decay will stand for a lifetime despite whatever kind of redevelopment creeps in. These photos summarize my years of exploring Memphis, and summarize the person I have become between the shots. Secondly, I chose these photos so I could tell the stories of the in between moments that went undocumented. These photos embody stories I’ll tell my grandkids one day. But at the end of the day, the people behind my shoulder as I took my shot mean more than the entire camera roll.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
When people see the photos I’ve taken, I hope they feel proud of their city. I hope they feel curious, excited, and feel the thrill I seek when exploring my city. Some people see Memphis as a place to leave as soon as they get the chance, but I hope people see my work and realize the Thrill is not gone and it's here to stay.
What are some tips/advice you would give to someone looking to pursue a career in photography?
If you want a career in photography, I say go for it- but be mindful. Now a days, more and more people are seeking this profession to make all their ends meet. Don’t let the mind game behind it all can paralyze you. In a cut throat, flooded industry, my biggest piece of advice would be to shoot, edit, produce what YOU like over anything else. The people see it when you are doing what you love and you share it with the world not caring what anyone else may think of it. Stay true to yourself, and the success will follow. If you’re in this to chase the money, that’s all that it will ever be. Vapor. But if you’re in this to produce what you feel from the world, you’ll be full for a life-time.
A few more (small) pieces of advice
spend your money on a good lens, the camera body is less important
reach out to the people who have been doing this for a while, their advice has changed everything for me.
come to Memphis if you’re not already here. The opportunity for Memphis photographers is far deeper than any city has to offer- the community is hundreds deep, and we are all family.
Memphis is the best place to start and continue any career in any industry. Want to learn more about how the Chamber works to improve economic development for all in the Greater Memphis community? Click here.