What does a Russian model and a Poly Sci major have in common? They have a camera, a really beautiful dress and an island in Vietnam. Where was Alvin before he was making beautiful pictures of models? He was at Seattle University following a plan his parents wanted for him. “I was studying law because I thought I could make a difference with it.” Then he got a camera for graduation and everything changed. “I got the opportunity to shoot a model and that was it. I was in love. I blew my savings on gear and just went for it.”

Over the course of the next year Alvin shot whatever he could get his hands on; events, weddings, portraits. Most of the modeling agencies turned him down because of his inexperience until he found one that said yes. He began to shoot for them for free, honing in on his lighting and camera skills. “I realized that the definition we sometimes give to happiness isn’t always true. I thought I needed the white picket fence, the girl and the Mercedes but that’s not it. I was shooting for no money but I was creating art and I was the happiest I’ve ever been.”

After a few weeks of seeing Alvin’s stunning photographs the agencies started paying him. He was able to build up his gear and even rent a space with another photographer. “There were so many people who helped me. My car got broken into once and my studio mate lent me his gear. It was amazing.” Since that misfortunate Alvin has turned his photo library into a successful business. He recently finished a shoot for Elle magazine and is planning a move to New York by the summer. “I realized I can make a change with my art. I can launch a model’s career. I can help someone else up the ladder. This is what I was meant to do.”

A few more …

About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.