My name is Alexis Mray Bearinger. I’m a tatted up 22 year old from a small town called Midland, Michigan, where you can experience all four seasons in just one day. I fell in love with a boy named Chris when I was 15, and I’m still in love with him today. I believe very deeply that the human experience is just that; an experience, and thus we should live our lives that way.
My interest in photography has been a prominent part of my character ever since I was a child, but it didn’t become a career option for me until very late into my high-school career. For a long time, I wanted to be a psychologist. I was always a quick learner in school, and having a high academic standard was very important to me. I enjoyed the human brain, and learning about it helped give me a little insight on my own mind as well.
I always thought I was one of those people who knew exactly what i wanted to be. I knew who I was going to be. I was going to finish high school with solid A’s, get into a great college with a stellar science program, graduate with a degree in clinical psychology, and be a successful doctor one day with my own practice.
Then, approximately four months before I graduated high school, I came home from school and told my mom I didn’t want to be a psychologist anymore. For some reason, that day, it all just became clear to me that I wasn’t being true to myself. You know when you’re little, how your teachers have you fill out all sorts of little worksheets about your favorite foods and what you wanted to be when you grew up? My worksheets always ended up saying the same things. My favorite foods were grilled cheese and spaghetti, and I wanted to be an astronaut or an artist. Astronaut became a non-option for me early on in life (motion sickness amiright). The rest of those statements, however, still remain true to this day.
(Funny enough, Chris, that wonderful guy of mine from the first paragraph, just graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology in 2018. My life gets to be heavily involved in the arts AND psych! Funny how things work out, huh?)
For reasons I’m still trying to work out, I always considered my love for the arts to be a hobby. It never occurred to me early on that it could be a career option. All I knew was in that moment in high school, something told me I would never be truly fulfilled with a life in the sciences. I’m an artist, through and through, and that feeling outweighed all the fear I had about changing paths. Two weeks later I dropped out of my AP psych class and became the first student at Dow High to be accepted into the IB art program with nothing but a portfolio. My teachers in that class deserve a blog post all their own, so I won’t delve too much into that here. What’s important is that the IB program kicked my ass into gear in four months time and earned me a substantial scholarship to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. By the fall of that same year, I was living in my own apartment in Royal Oak and driving to the city each morning for class.
The time I spent at CCS was fantastic, but also the most difficult time in my life thus far. I spent every waking moment either at school, working, or doing the same at home. I lived 2 hours away from my high school sweetheart, but every weekend I drove the two hours home to Midland and back to school again on Monday, working at the local Culver’s for several years and then at a Michael’s craft store. All the while, I was working as a portrait & wedding photographer during the warmer months. Over the course of two and a half years I worked myself to the bone building my portfolio and establishing myself academically with placement on the President’s List every single semester. I got a job working for my teacher as a photography intern at his studio, and I made great connections with my other incredible mentors along the way. I took courses on fashion photography, photojournalism, fine art photography and film photography/development, and aced every single one. It was during this time in my life that I truly knew I had found my path. I was meant to be a photographer. It’s part of my existence.
That being said, this is the 21st century, and I’m one very broke girl. I came from a middle class family. I had no college fund, and the only reason I attended CCS in the first place was via my high school scholarship. As much as I learned and loved being at CCS, the time came that I just simply couldn’t see spending as much money as I was, money I didn’t have, on a piece of paper that said I’m allowed to do the job that I was already doing. Health was another major factor in my decision to leave. I developed an anxiety disorder during my first year at CCS that progressively got worse throughout the years. I was put on medication in my freshman year, but even still I became so isolated that I couldn’t drive more than 20 minutes without having a panic attack behind the wheel. So I came home, with 3 semesters left before graduation. I took my life into my own hands again and made the choice that was best for me, and I haven’t regretted it since.
Today, over two years later, I’m in a better place physically and mentally than ever before. I’ve been off my anxiety medication for almost a year. I live with Chris for the first time in 7 years as well as two of my closest friends, I work a day job that I love in the winter months and year-round as a freelance photographer and artist. I’ve connected with clients and friends that I never would have made if I didn’t choose to take this path two years ago.
I believe whole-heartedly that this life is meant to be experienced individually and independently, regardless of the restraints we put on ourselves and on each other. I make decisions from my gut. I pride myself on my capacity to feel strongly in all that I do, and my ability to project those feelings through imagery. And I sleep better now than I ever have, knowing that I’m living a life that a younger me would be proud of.
That was a lot to throw at you. And I thank you for taking the time to read through it all! If you’d like to read more posts like this one, I’m hoping to add a blog section to my website sometime in 2019 where clients and friends can follow my journey as an artist.
Now that you know a bit about me, I’d love to hear a little more about you. If you have an idea for a project or portrait session, let’s make it happen! I’ll be posting a FAQ page soon to hopefully answer any questions you may have about my process or what I do. Otherwise, feel free to visit my contact page and shoot me a message.