Annaliese Feininger


Annaliese Feininger (b.1994) is an analog artist living on Canada’s West Coast. She is currently completing a fine arts degree majoring in film photography at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and is in the process of creating her first photo book. She has worked as a journalist and editor for print and digital magazines, and is a published film photographer and poet. Although in the process of completing her degree, Annaliese has earned recognition as a professional photographer long before completing her university training.

Annaliese has exhibited in galleries and group shows and was selected to showcase work as part of a juried competition hosted by Capture Photography Festival in 2020. Her editorial and promotional work for other artists can be found all over Instagram, Spotify, Bandcamp, Etsy, and their respective websites.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

Honestly, I’m still forming ideas surrounding a so-called ‘business.’ Right now, I love the title of freelance photographer, because it allows me to pick up contracts of all sorts (editorial work, portrait work, promotional work, et al.) without having to commit to a specific genre.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Being productive with my time means spending as little time as possible on social media. I try to plan my days the night before, which helps with time management. I also get outside and change my environment several times a day (home, cafes, libraries, school) so as not to give myself a headache. It might be ‘productive’ to sit at a computer or in the photo lab all day doing work, but it isn’t enjoyable. At the end of the day, photography is my passion and I want to keep it that way, so I try to not force myself to work for long stretches of time whenever possible.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I write a lot and gain inspiration from fictional literature and song lyrics. If I have an idea or a concept, it first comes to life on paper. For example, I was hired to create imagery for two different issues of a print magazine in 2020/2021. To do so, I sat on the ground with markers and a huge sheet of paper to map out the visuals. I’m very tactile—it helps me think. I also listen to classical piano music to process ideas. I lived with my grandmother for a while, who has been an opera singer and classical musician for most of her life – she also trained me on the piano. Any time she sat down to process thoughts and ideas, there would be classical music playing off of an old analog radio in the background. I think that habit rubbed off on me.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m very happy that analog photography has become popular. Whether or not people choose to take photographs on film to ‘look cool’ or to purely to enjoy the process, it doesn’t matter. It’s just wonderful to see people doing it and creating such unique imagery.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Writing. A lot of the works I create come from a place of memory, so it’s handy to be able to go back and read a record of what I felt or was experiencing at a given point in my life.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to be more conscious of intent over aesthetic value whilst creating. Before I started art school, I really thought I knew who I was as an artist. Now, three years into professional training, I’ve realized I have no clue who I am, and that in the past, I didn’t really work with ‘intent.’ So, I would tell my younger self to create with intent over aesthetics.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Constantly be investigating possible funding, scholarships, grants and competitions for the arts. No matter what point you’re at in your career, you should investigate funding. I find it quite helpful to put myself in uncomfortable positions, such as competitions, which has forced me to strive for new things and participate in experiences outside of my comfort zone.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I try to align myself with people who I admire and respect, as well as products that I would be proud to stand behind. I also think it is important to reach out to people, rather than always waiting for clients to come to you. Honestly it’s kind of like dating in that you have to let people know that you’re interested and available. Be warm, open, and ready for both connection and rejection.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I first started out taking film photos, I didn’t have the equipment required to do the developing or digitizing myself, nor did I have the money to pay someone to do it for me. The local library has this archaic scanning machine with scratched negative holders and it takes an hour to scan two photos. I’d sit at the library for days and days scanning one roll of negatives.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’ve always loved the idea of having a small café/bar that doubles as an informal art gallery/co-op space. I have a lot of friends that work in different mediums of art, whether that be sculpting, hair styling, cooking, or fashion design. It would be nice to have a collaborative space where people could get a coffee or beer, get their hair cut and look at art. Slice of Life Studios and Next Door Gallery are great examples of how this type of space can work.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I picked up a big box of expired film (large format, medium format, 35mm) from an Emily Carr alumni recently. The whole lot was probably worth 300-400 when purchased, but now due to it’s expired nature, the seller reduced the price. Lucky for me, the imperfections that expired film will provide aligns perfectly with my practice.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I have a light meter app on my phone that allows me to determine what my settings should be on my camera to get a proper exposure. It assists me in getting the correct lighting when I’m on a shoot, so that the film is not over or under-exposed. Hand-held light meters can be expensive and delicate, so that software is very handy.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’m a big poetry fan and would recommend anything by Leonard Cohen, Anais Nin, and Pablo Neruda.

What is your favorite quote?

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin

Key Learnings:

  • Taking time to do something pleasurable during the workday is the key to being productive.
  • An artist should create with intent rather than aesthetic value.
  • Do not compromise your style to fit the mold of someone else.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and strive for more.