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Alison Pinto: capturing an entire story in a single frame—52 weeks of the year

Affinity user Alison Pinto has taken part in the 52Frames weekly photo challenge for the last three years, using it as an opportunity to up her photography game and experiment with storytelling—often featuring herself in her weekly submissions.

We chatted with Alison to learn more about her journey with 52Frames and why Affinity Photo is her tool of choice for bringing her creative visions to life.

Be the Hero You Want to Be
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you developed an interest in photography.

My name is Alison, and I’m a hobby photographer living in the beautiful countryside of the Pacific Northwest. Photography has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I can still picture my mother receiving her first SLR camera and how mesmerized I was by all the buttons and dials on it. She took it with her everywhere and was able to capture beautiful images of the world around her. Some years later, I purchased my own DSLR, and I’d like to say that’s where my love for photography blossomed, but to be honest, I barely picked up my camera more than a few times a year, and by the time I picked it up again, I had forgotten everything I had learned during the previous use. It wasn’t until I was going to travel outside the US for the first time that I was determined to learn how to properly use a camera. I perused many photography tutorials and gained a good understanding of my new mirrorless camera before my trip. I was hooked! Long were the days of solely relying on auto settings.

I Used to Be Able to Hold Hands
What does photography mean to you?

Developing a photographer’s eye over the last few years has really made me see the world in a new light, literally. I’m constantly seeing how light and shadow play together and how they make or change the shape of anything dramatically or subtly. I also really love the way photography can capture an entire story in a single moment or how beauty can be found in an otherwise mundane scene.

“I really love the way photography can capture an entire story in a single moment or how beauty can be found in an otherwise mundane scene.”

There’s Water in This Photo
How did you master the technical side?

The vast sea of online guides have been instrumental in my understanding of photography and post-processing techniques, but what has helped most of all has been consistency. After I got back from my trip abroad, I didn’t want to fall into the same habit of only using my camera a few times a year. I decided to join a local photography group through social media that had a casual weekly challenge, which kept me motivated to use my camera regularly.

What inspired you to take part in the 52Frames challenge?

At the end of 2018, a friend in my local photography group mentioned that for the new year, she would be trying a new photography challenge called 52Frames. I was intrigued by the concept of having photographers from all over the world with different photography levels participating in the same weekly challenge. The project had a solid structure, helpful tutorials, and an established community of photographers that I could go to for advice when needed. The project also keeps track of your streak, and I wanted that accountability to keep me using my camera weekly. I haven’t broken my streak since beginning the challenge—and this is my third year participating.

Midnight Hour
How do you feel it’s gone this year compared to last year?

Looking at my collection of images from the 52Frames project, I can definitely see how much I’ve grown as a photographer since starting the challenge. This year, when time has allowed, I’ve really focused more on storytelling through my images and I look forward to further developing my skills.

What do you feel you’ve learnt/got out of the challenge?

First of all, the 52Frames community is so wonderful. There are so many supportive photographers, and I wouldn’t be where I am today as a photographer without 52Frames and those who keep the project running. The helpful guides for each challenge have helped me learn countless new techniques that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.

I like the stories I can tell with portraiture, but with limited subjects from staying home for most of the year, the main subject I had available was me. This had the effect of making me become a lot more comfortable with self-portrait photography. I went from dreading the first week’s challenge of ‘Self-Portrait’ to now featuring myself in most of my submissions. I am so grateful for this body positivity I’ve developed.

“I went from dreading the first week’s challenge of ‘Self-Portrait’ to now featuring myself in most of my submissions. I am so grateful for this body positivity I’ve developed.”

Eye Can See Clearly
You seem to enjoy being creative with your shots and adding a touch of humour. Where do you get your inspiration?

I like adding humour to my images because I think it’s nice to have a break from the chaos in the world now and then. And that maybe they will bring a smile to someone who was otherwise having a cruddy day. When I first started 52Frames, I often turned to previous challenge albums or images from the internet for inspiration, but now most of my ideas come from the weekly prompts themselves and develop naturally from a feeling or a dream or even from looking at a random kitchen appliance.

Do you have a favourite photo you’ve captured and shared, and can you tell us the story behind it?

I really enjoyed creating ‘The Juggle is Real’. The weekly prompt was, ‘My Daily Routine,’ and while brainstorming, I kept coming back to the idea that there are so many things I love—and I wanted to try to include as many of them into the image as possible. It was both fun and challenging to compose the shot and edit in a way that was somewhat believable. No cats were juggled in the making of this image! I held my cat, ‘Mooch’ and was able to clone myself out using six different shots.

The Juggle is Real
We were delighted to learn you use Affinity Photo. How did you discover the app, and what inspired you to use it?

When I decided that I wanted to try my hand at more advanced editing techniques, I searched for applications on the web. Time and time again, Affinity Photo was recommended. I was really drawn to the stand-alone application with the added benefit of not having a subscription fee. After learning about all the functionality of Affinity, I knew it was going to be the post-processing application that would help bring my visions to life.

“After learning about all the functionality of Affinity, I knew it was going to be the post-processing application that would help bring my visions to life.”

Run Away!
Could you tell us a little about your post-processing workflow?

For post-processing, I first bring up my image in the Develop Persona to achieve proper exposure, shadows, highlights, and details. From there, I will spend time cloning out distractions to get my base image for further post-processing. If I’m creating a composite image, I will select and mask out the elements I want and compose them on the base image. After I’ve finished compositing and decided what direction I want my image to go in, I will add various adjustment layers and masks to better tell my colour story. This is usually some combination of Selective Colour, Colour Balance, Curves, Recolour, and Split Toning Adjustment Layers. I’ve created several macros that speed up the process. When I first started using Affinity Photo, I found the video tutorials on the website to be extremely helpful.

Rock Pinto
What sorts of things do you think might challenge you in the future? Do you have any techniques or styles that you would like to investigate?

There is so much I have yet to learn, and I am eager to soak it all in. Advanced lighting and creating my own LUTs are some avenues I’d like to explore. I think for the moment, I’d like to further develop my skill of storytelling through photography. I currently experiment with numerous styles of photography, and while on this adventure, I would like to discover what my individual look will be.

Finally, do you have any tips for someone thinking of taking part in the 52Frames challenge?

I say dive right in! There are benefits of 52Frames for photographers in all walks of life. For beginners, there are guides that will help you get the most out of your camera or even your phone. The 52Frames community is full of Framers that can offer guidance to help you along your photography journey. Professional photographers can benefit from 52Frames by using the weekly challenges as inspiration or as an outlet to create something you wouldn’t normally create in your line of work.

Cheat Day

Check out Alison’s Instagram account @a_pinto_bean and her 52Frames Profile to see more of her photography.

To learn more about 52Frames, visit

Spotlight editor

As editor of Affinity Spotlight Melanie oversees the stories, interviews and tutorials published on the site. Outside of work she enjoys travelling, reading crime thrillers, Pilates and dabbling in a spot of oil painting. Get in touch with Melanie if you would like to contribute or be featured on Affinity Spotlight.

Credits & Footnotes

All images are copyright of Alison Pinto and used with permission.