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Catching up with world-class photographer Alan Mercer

World-class photographer Alan Mercer chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about his latest projects, life during the quarantine, and being a photographer in the digital age.

Freda Payne and Alan Mercer
Freda Payne and Alan Mercer. Photo Courtesy of Alan Mercer
Freda Payne and Alan Mercer. Photo Courtesy of Alan Mercer

World-class photographer Alan Mercer chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about his latest projects, life during the quarantine, and being a photographer in the digital age.

“I have been amazingly good,” he exclaimed. “I feel blessed to be enjoying every day at this time in my life. I have learned to appreciate everything that life really is. The ups and the downs are so minimal now. They are little bumps instead of mountains.”

Latest projects

On his latest projects, Mercer said, “I have been enjoying just enough work to fill up every minute. I’ve been going strong since last July and I have three current projects going on right now. Project One has been going for a few months now as I am updating photos for my sister as a Beauty Queen contestant and sponsor.”

He continued, “I am also working with the most incredible jazz/soul singer from San Antonio by the name of Michelle Garibay-Carey. She wanted a Hollywood-style glamour session, and we went all the way.

“My most recent of all projects have been a dream come true,” he admitted. “Several years ago, my late friend Bob Esty told me I had to photograph his friend, Asha Puthli. I couldn’t believe Bob knew this phenomenal singer from India. I had heard her name back in the 1970s but I didn’t have a way to hear any of her music in Nebraska, where I grew up.”

“When I did get to hear her albums in the early 2000s, she left me speechless,” he said. “Anyway, one day Asha called me on the phone and told me she wanted a photo session with me. This woman has been photographed by Avedon! I told her I felt a calling to photograph her and that one day the universe would put us together without either of us having to do a thing, and that’s exactly what happened. I can’t wait to share our photo session with the world in December.”   

“Also, Freda Payne has her memoir out next week and my photo of her is on the back cover. They always use a vintage image on the front cover. I can’t wait to read it,” he added.

Life during the quarantine

On life during the quarantine, Mercer said, “As you can tell by my last answer, quarantine has been very good to me. I actually enjoyed the first year in lockdown. I learned, like a lot of people, how enjoyable a less hectic life can be.”

“The silver lining is learning not to hate,” he said. “Hate has taken over so many people and the only way to combat this hate is to refuse to hate anyone or anything for more than a minute.”

He opened up about the greatest lesson that the quarantine has taught him. “Don’t take any day for granted. One day we were all going along in our lives and the next day we were all stuck inside with nowhere to go and lots of people were getting sick and dying. It was genuinely scary at first. I had to live in faith more than ever. I decided not to suffer so instead I enjoyed every minute of not going out,” he said.

On his future plans, he said, “I certainly understand “plans for the future” and when I was young, I always had them and followed them. At this time in my life with many of my goals met, I choose not to have any plans for my future, but rather to take a ride and see where life takes me. I have a feeling it will be a better life than anything I might plan.”

When asked about the best advice he was ever given, he responded, “Don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t like what I do. People have a right not to like my work. It’s not offensive and it’s truly alright.”

The digital age

On being a photographer in the digital age, he said, “It feels less special. The nature of photography, in general, has changed. Absolutely everyone has a camera now. That’s why it’s important to get a personal style. It’s the only thing you have that nobody else has.”

Success

Regarding his definition of success, he explained, “Ultimately, success means being content with your life, and at the same time being filled with happiness and a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Being able to be proud of yourself because you developed into a mature person with a heart and a soul, and you left the drama behind many years ago. That is success.”

To learn more about esteemed photogrpaher Alan Mercer, check out his official website.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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