By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
When I would drive by the Craftsman-style-house-turned-business located on the corner of Clinton and Market just off the Square, I was intrigued by the name on the sign: 17th + Pear. I knew it was a photography studio, and now I have the chance to introduce the delightful proprietors to you, as well as tell you the secret behind the name.
Back in the day when the studio was a home in downtown Athens, Clinton was the 17th street running north and south starting from the west side of Athens moving toward East Limestone. That’s where the studio’s owners, Lindsay Looney and Alison Bivens, get the “17th” portion of the title of their thriving photographic partnership. “Pear” is a play on the word “Pair.” Alison and Lindsay collaborated on the name, and the result is a business name that reflects the friendship, community roots, and playful style that makes 17th + Pear unique.
Alison’s Bachelor’s degree in English is from Athens State, and Lindsay started off in nursing school at UNA, with a desire to be a part of a trauma team. Lindsay’s unexpected diagnosis of a chronic medical condition made that dream no longer possible, and as is often the case with women of faith, when God closes a door, He opens a window. He most certainly has done that for these two, and making a living at what they love, as well as becoming best friends are only the beginning of their blessings.
They both have been fascinated with photography since they were children. Alison’s grandmother took literally thousands of pictures, and she says, “Almost every moment of my life is recorded,” something that became even more precious with the unexpected passing of Alison’s sister, Taylor, in a tragic accident. Taylor was 21, and Alison is grateful for every picture she has. Taylor and the fragile nature of life is some of what inspires Alison today. Jeff, Alison’s husband, purchased a DSLR photo system as a gift for Alison, which is how she got her more serious start in 2011. She has filled up hard drives and the cloud with close to 10,000 photos, with no chance of slowing down anytime soon!
Lindsay started taking pictures when she was 5 or 6, and once she had to change career paths, worked for a local photographer. Lindsay did Alison’s maternity and newborn portraits, and Ali was thrilled with Lindsay’s work. Later, Alison helped Lindsay “second-shoot” a wedding, and the partnership and friendship we see today was born in August of 2014.
Both women are completely self-taught, yet with the help of today’s technology, they have been able to expand their knowledge and skills, learning all they can about the entire about the entire photographic process from manipulating camera settings to posing families. They have done so through all manner of online tutorials and workshops. They told me, “Photography is always evolving, and we are always learning. You never feel like you are done.” They have also done online courses with Twig & Olive, whose work they greatly admire, and whose live workshops costs thousands. These gals have dreams; one is to learn under Twig & Olive at live events, and the other is to shoot a destination wedding in Ireland.
They have clients all over North Alabama, including Hazel Green, Huntsville, and Jones Valley. Because they both have children, including three year olds, they are especially experienced in capturing the best shots of kids by helping everyone in the family relax. They are fun and creative, and it shows up in their work. They also have the ability to exhibit a high degree of professionalism when dealing with weddings, and their work is stunning. Brides are beautiful, grooms are grand, and the beauty of the Big Day is captured forever.
Amongst the best photographers, there is an unwritten law of reciprocity and support of each other’s endeavors, something I found most attractive about 17th+ Pear’s working philosophy. They help out other photographers, and vice versa. Lindsay said, “We emphasize community over competition.” Indeed, there is enough to go around in the busy world of photography, and “the Pear” is booked months in advance.
“We are the all-time team,” they said, and added, “We know each other so well that we can tag-team a shoot without really even having to think about it.” They describe their prices has being those that reflect quality as well as artistic ability. They finished our time together describing something else about their brand that I think is highly valuable. “We form long lasting relationships. We shoot baby after baby in the same family,” they said, and it is the same with weddings. Relatives book them for their special day after they see the albums produced from family weddings, and it’s the same with friends. “There is no higher recommendation than a referral from a satisfied customer, and we even get invited to birthday parties of clients who have become friends where we get to be the guests, and don’t have to shoot!”
If creative comfort blended with high artistic photographic ability is what you are looking for at a fair price, then book your appointment for a studio or location photo shoot with 17th + Pear today.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner