Alumni Highlight: Mallory Morrison

Mallory Morrison

Mallory Morrison is a California native who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Slowly making her way down the California coast, she received a degree in fine art from UC Santa Cruz in 2006, a Bachelor of Arts in professional photography from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara in 2009, and currently lives in Santa Monica, Calif. Having studied photography on both ends of the spectrum, Mallory combines her storytelling abilities and technical skill to create underwater images that are dynamic and intriguing.

For the past few years, she has been focusing mainly on underwater fashion shoots in pools, but she also shoots “on-land” fashion. Mallory travels to New York, Paris, and Milan for projects but usually likes to keep things based in Los Angeles, where she can be underwater.

Mallory has worked with magazines to create a fresh new twist for their latest editorial; she also has shot CD covers and directed a music video, and she continues to work on personal conceptual work for galleries. Her work has been seen in such magazines as Live OC Magazine, The Stylist Handbook, DEEP Surf, After Capture, Digital Photo Pro, and PDN. One of her underwater pieces is part of the set on the TNT show “Rizzoli and Isles,” hanging 4-foot-by-4-foot in the house of character Maura Isles.

Recently, Mallory has been working with fellow Brooks alum Shiloh Strong co-directing an underwater shoot for a music video for singer/songwriter Lucy Schwartz. Mallory was also featured in the online TV show “Framed.” The show features one photographer with a special niche each episode and goes behind the scenes of a shoot. Stills from the episode were published in Live OC Magazine. Mallory has also become a contributor to The Stylist Handbook Magazine, where she collaborates with editors and other contributors (see a behind-the-scenes video of a shoot Mallory did here). Her next project will be a job for Hinano Tahiti clothing company out of Huntington Beach doing underwater shoots for their Spring 2012 catalog.

Mallory discovered underwater shooting after her first year at Brooks Institute. Her second and third years were spent experimenting and shooting as much as possible. She took what she learned about shooting people – lighting, posing, production, Photoshop skills, wardrobe, makeup, and model choices – and took everything into another environment. Without such a strong technical background, Mallory would have drowned, literally. With the support of her instructors and classmates and having access to the old Montecito campus pool to experiment, she was able to leave Brooks with a packaged niche portfolio ready to hit the ground running. A big part Mallory’s success has been having people believe in her and help her refine her craft. Her instructors’ doors were always open to help keep pushing her further, and she is very grateful for the life-changing experience of Brooks.

Looking toward the future, Mallory is marketing herself to advertising agencies and graphic design firms as well as interior designers. She is looking to expand her water work by moving more into the fine art world. She would like to work with interior designers to supply art for homes, hotels, and commercial spaces, allowing her to have more creative freedom when shooting.

Mallory would pass on this advice to current students: “Each assignment is a challenge, a blank slate, and a dare. Dare to do something hard. Always keep looking at work that amazes you and set your bar there. I wouldn’t base your level of quality on the other students around you; your quality level should strive to be like a working professional. Get as much information from your instructors – that is what they are there for. If you are merely an observer rather than a participant in class, you won’t get what you should from the class. The real world is tough and very competitive, so be one that survives. By putting in the time in school, you can get a head start on the real world.”

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