Keeping it in the Family

By Alisa Murray
Nationally recognized portrait artist and award-winning columnist –

Victoria Ann and Alisa Murray.

Victoria Ann and Alisa Murray.

Uncle Jim was always a funny guy. He was one of those guys who were larger than life, eccentric and everyone wanted to be around him. He would always ask me silly questions that made me laugh, and each time I saw him, I always fell for his funny jokes and looked forward to spending time with him.

When Brian and I moved to Texas, Uncle Jim and Aunt Carolyn made sure Brian and I had an invitation to their house, and it was in those early years of our marriage that Brian was exposed to Photoshop and I to photography.

When little Miss Victoria Ann came along, we presented her to Uncle Jim to be photographed, and it was during that shoot that I think Uncle Jim had the idea that I should pursue a career in photography. By the time Victoria Ann was six-months-old, I had my first and only lesson in photography with him. Shortly after his visit, he faced a spiral of health issues that eventually led to his early death. The film in my camera remained untouched for a few months. I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of being a photographer because I had my eyes set on law. In addition, becoming a photographer did not appear to be all that glamorous, and y’all know I do like glamorous! One day, I developed that roll of film and within a few days, I was asked if it could be the cover of a local magazine, which just happened to be enough fame to turn my head and make me consider the career. I am glad I did.

Like Uncle Jim, I have within my own design cultivated my own craft and brought the art into a seemingly technical craft. I have even figured out a way to be in the spotlight, which feeds my need to be seen. The satisfaction of being able to capture a moment for a family or giving a lasting portrait to a family of a loved one dying of cancer is such an amazing blessing. I love what I do, and I hope everybody gets to love what they do as much. I secretly know, though, that the real gift Uncle Jim gave me was the passion to give. He saw something creative in me, and he pushed just hard enough to get me to see it. All it took was a cover of a magazine. Uncle Jim used to say, “You have the artist eye – that can’t be taught.” He was willing to share what he loved and in doing so, directly altered my entire life’s course. There’s a magic to creating, and it’s amazing.

My now little Miss is 15 years-old, and she has been at the very heart of my inspiration. I have learned how to shoot babies through her, how to negotiate with toddlers through her, and she herself has been in countless ads and covers over the years. She asked a few months ago to join the team and shoot beside me, and when the client actually chose her work as part of her collection, her confidence soared. I found myself saying to her the same words that had been spoken to me so many years ago…words that I hold dear to my own heart because the belief in me was with him when I could not see it for myself. “You have the artist eye – that can’t be taught.”

As it goes with parenting, we have many opportunities to see what our children are capable of even before they themselves come to recognize it as a talent. The wise parent fosters the greatness, and history continues to prove that a child encouraged is a child who is successful. She doesn’t like all the glitz and glam that I do, and like her father, is not interested in the fame of it all. This is good because I have no desire to share my spotlight anyway! I am not going to sway her though, if she decided to be a full time photographer once all of her college is done. I might even try to talk her into a little writing or a little TV producing. She might even be savvy enough to manage even me! Either way, I am quite proud to see the third generation blossoming. It’s refreshing that there’s still a place for a family to stay in the business of something that is so very close to my heart!

Share what you love, and the next generation will follow!


Take Care of YOU!