Artist Spotlight: Ali Nasser

Ali Nasser has been photographing a specific type of wedding for nearly ten years. Disney weddings, to be exact. For every “fairy tale” wedding, one of a roster of twenty photographers is tasked with capturing the magic of the moment. 

“Getting a job at Disney Fine Art Photography really changed my life. I wouldn’t be the photographer that I am today without them. [It’s] such an amazing opportunity because so many different kinds of jobs come through and, as a young photographer, you’re always paired up with a senior photographer, so you get to learn from some of the best photographers with over 20 years of experience.”

For Ali, it was always about the journey, as well as the destination. As a fledgling photographer, eager to take the next step, Ali reached out to a local photographer and asked to be his assistant.

“He said he couldn’t afford one. So I said, ‘What if I work for free? Anything you need, I just want to learn.’ 6 months in he started paying me. If there’s a photographer that you really want to work with, it never hurts to ask. If you can stop by in person, to just show up and see if they could use an assistant. If it’s the right time, they could be reminded of themselves when they were up and coming.”

A few years in, Ali found out about Disney Fine Art Photography and applied, but wasn’t needed at the time. Two years later, fate brought him back to Orlando and he gave Disney a call. He started working his way up to weddings by learning the ropes.

“When I started they only had me doing group shots. Groups of kids for competitions, conventions, for such. Groups of 50 up to 400, 500 kids.”

Eventually Ali was given more and more responsibility, covering weddings as a second photographer, and then as the primary. With such a large group of photographers covering events all across Disney World, it could easily become overwhelming and isolating, but the community formed between the photographers keeps them engaged.

“It’s a close circle; we always share ideas between each other, so we’re constantly learning from each other and inspiring one another. I’m very fortunate because there isn’t a photography job out there like this where you get this many kinds of jobs coming through, so because of that, the experience that you gain is invaluable. One year at Disney Fine Art Photography is equivalent to like 3-5 years of experience on the outside as a freelancer.”

Ali photographed 120 weddings at Disney last year. With over thirty wedding venues, being agile and understanding how to light a room has become necessary for success. Even though he’s been to many locations before, Ali looks for something new every time he goes out to shoot.

Many times though, this know-how becomes imperative, as early mornings and dimly lit rooms pose unique challenges for creating a stunning image. This is where Ali’s creative lighting comes into play.

“When brides are getting ready at 6 or 7 in the morning, you don’t always have that nice window light, so I’ll put one of my lights outside and put an orange gel on it to create sunlight. I use a lot of grids and gels to shape my light, make sure it goes where I want it to.”

Ali relies heavily on the Siros L to provide the power to illuminate large rooms, but also for its light shaping capabilities. When Ali stacks gels or diffusion, there’s still enough power to freeze motion and keep everything sharp.

“I had always known about broncolor. When I was getting into lights, I looked for what professional photographers are using and I saw a lot of broncolor. I realized this was the light for me. I know it will make a difference. I really believe the only way I can give them the best photo possible.”

With an affinity for a strong rim light, Ali is able to craft magical images in any location. Being able to place a bride and groom in the middle of Disney World and make them fit the environment takes skill and practice.

“You learn to anticipate certain situations. If you can see a moment happening, you can get ready for it and not miss those special moments. It builds your confidence, I’m more prepared for new locations at any time of day.”

Ten years in, Ali can safely call himself a true wedding photographer, but that wasn’t always his goal.

“I never pictured myself as a wedding photographer. I saw myself doing marketing material, and it just was meant to happen. A lot of stuff that I did in my career got me ready to have my unique perspective on how to shoot a wedding. I don’t want to limit myself to anything, and I always love to learn something new.”

Follow Ali on instagram @ali.nasser.photo and on his website nasserstudios.com