Local Love Blog Series – Alexis McKeown

Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series

I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to shed some light on the amazing artist and studio photographer, Alexis McKeown! Many past Local Love features have included her in their own shout-outs, so this post feels almost overdue. 

Alexis aspires to create a deep emotional connection with her work, always. 

Inspired by photographers such as Lois Greenfield when she was young, and more recently by Peter Lindbergh, Alexis loves creating connections with the subjects she’s photographing. Just shy of saying she specializes in photographing women, Alexis loves finding a way to capture honest and beautiful portraits of people at any age or stage of their lives. 

Alexis is a rare-breed photographer in the Bow Valley. 

Where most of her counterparts are landscape photographers, no doubt inspired by our amazing surroundings in the Rockies, Alexis almost exclusively spends her time offering studio portraiture. She is deeply focused on translating her amazing ability to connect with those she’s photographing into amazing portraits that show off their truest form of beauty. She’s entirely devoted to the pursuit of honest communication and emotion through and within art. 

Her passion for portrait photography started in her late teens within a dance studio.

As a young woman, Alexis was an aspiring classical dancer. Unfortunately, at a critical time in the development of a professional dance career, Alexis suffered a few major injuries. While she was recovering, she would bring her camera to the dance studio and photograph her friends during rehearsals and backstage at performances. Eventually, this developed, and she started taking audition portraits. 

Taking one look at her work, it’s no surprise that Alexis draws inspiration from people. 

In her own words, Alexis is most inspired by, “…a person’s stories, from her face, her form, her feelings.” Her love for connecting with her subjects one-on-one means she makes sure to spend time really getting to know the people who come into her studio and sit in front of the camera. She understands the vulnerability required to have your photo taken and the trust people put in her to help show off their true and unique beauty. 

Alexis has been in Canmore for nearly 10 years now, originally hailing from the Yukon. 

After a variety of work experiences throughout her 20s, Alexis had a desire to work for herself and was driven to build her life around her creative work. She first launched her business in 2008/2009, but really focused it on a studio portrait business when she moved to Canmore in 2012. Her passion for photography and opening her business had been a long time coming since she first used her father’s camera at age 12 and immediately fell in love with the magic of shooting on film. 

With a studio now based in the Elk Run Industrial compound in Canmore, Alexis has a home for her creativity to bloom. 

She loves the freedom of being her own boss, and the opportunity to be endlessly creative with each session photographing portraits. She’s worked incredibly hard to build her business and has poured her heart and soul into its success. Alexis also has a dream of creating work in the fine art realm to add another layer to the way she communicates through her photography. 

Having been in the Bow Valley for nearly a decade, Alexis has plenty of small, local businesses to shed some light on. 

First and foremost, her love and support go out to her incredibly supportive husband Conor, who recently started Lovely Ice Cream which offers small-batch ice cream. Alexis also wanted to highlight her studio mate Kathryn Cooke from Blue Eyes Studio and her studio assistant Bryony Toon

When it comes to local businesses to shout out, Alexis wanted to mention Communitea Cafe for their efforts in tree-planting, Wild Life Distillery for their continued commitment to offering a Community Cocktail. She also highlighted Stonewaters and their owner Mike for his efforts to support local small businesses, and lastly The Radiant in Banff for providing a great space to celebrate and showcase the arts in a live venue and creating an incredible space for the community to gather. 

Despite being primarily focused on portraiture, Alexis has dabbled in product and food photography. 

Namely, she partnered with Lilianne from Farine Workshops & Events (a past Local Love feature!) to co-host an event at a flower farm this past summer. This provided an opportunity to pair both of their passions for photography, food, floristry, and gatherings to celebrate the beauty in the simple joys of life. Food plays a big part in her life and Alexis loves finding a connection through cooking, especially when it provides the perfect opportunity for her and Conor to share some quality time free of distractions. 

As a self-described introvert who loves people, Alexis has an incredible gift in being able to present the astonishing beauty of people in her photography. 

The most rewarding part of her work is when her clients tell her that she’s made them feel seen and beautiful. Even better, Alexis is often able to shift their own perspective of beauty in themselves. She works hard to create a space where people feel completely comfortable, which is so apparent in all of her work. 

Like most small business owners, work-life balance is something that is always being worked on. 

However, having a small, creative business has taught Alexis a lot about herself and led her to discover her own personal strengths and weaknesses. And to be okay with having both. Despite COVID being a rollercoaster of the good, the bad, and the ugly, Alexis took the time to create more personal work than she ever had before. She’s emerged knowing the importance of setting boundaries to her work and understanding that striking a balance will look different for each individual person. 

So, next time you’re craving some great conversation, a meaningful connection, and some breathtaking photos, look no further than Alexis. You can see more of her work on her website or follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest work. 

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