About Alison Harbaugh
Learn more about Alison Harbaugh, owner, photographer and filmmaker
Sugar Farm Productions owner, photographer, filmmaker, and producer
Storytelling, music, and art are my great passions. They drive me to do what I do.
I have always been drawn to people's stories. I am inquisitive—constantly interested in what is going on around me—and a natural listener. I often find myself listening to people’s conversations, whether or not invited to do so, keen on hearing what they have to say. When I meet someone, I readily absorb much of what makes him or her tick. Given the wealth of extraordinary, creative people out in the world with unique stories to be told, it is not surprising that I became a documentary-style photographer and filmmaker.
Do not expect traditional studio photographer or filmmaker interactions and products from me. I document through day-in-the-life shots, showing the realism of things rather than presenting a perfectly controlled environment. The best way to capture the truth is to be unobtrusive and a silent—a keen observer, a fly on the wall. I spend ample time with subjects ahead of time. My ability to read personalities and ask questions helps me develop an even deeper understanding of my subjects. This allows my photographs to capture the subject’s essence. And it manifests in the way I present people and their work in film.
My love for and involvement with arts and music is evident in my life and work. I am influenced by the painting technique of chiaroscuro—the interplay of light and shadow—and the composition techniques of street photography masters who watch and wait for the moment. Color, pattern, and light contrast come together vividly in my finished pieces.
You’ll find me at concerts, art openings, and community events around town and throughout the region, as well as on nonprofit boards and volunteer committees that support arts in the community. I routinely draw from the local pool of talented musicians, composers, and artists, and work closely with them on art direction, scores, storyboards, and scripts. Small business, nonprofit, and artist promotions, and arts and music performance are my specialties in both photography and video.
I have a deep understanding of the importance of social media and visual platforms for promoting individuals and business, and much of what I produce goes straight onto the Internet. Because I follow marketing trends, I understand exactly what people need today for their business-related web and other social media content.
I love traveling, especially without a guidebook, and getting outside of my comfort zone. I am also committed to teaching and mentoring the next generation to think creatively and build self-esteem through art. I work well with children and teens, and enjoy the time spent with them in my photography classes and workshops.
I received a degree in graphic design communication from Philadelphia University in 2001, and began my photography career as an assistant sports photographer at the US Naval Academy and for the Baltimore Ravens. From there, I worked for three years as a photojournalist for a city newspaper. I then started my first business, Freckle Photography, which focused on child and family lifestyle photography and weddings. In 2007, I was commissioned to be the photographer for Where Severn Joins the Tide—A Seasonal Journey through the Academy, a large format hardcover photo book of the US Naval Academy. Sugar Farm Productions was created in 2011 out of my desire to focus on documentary-style work through photography and filmmaking. One year later, the company released its first documentary film, Swampcandy, Midnight Creep, which garnered great success locally and at film festivals in the United States.
In addition to my work with Sugar Farm Productions, I teach photography to teenagers through my program Fearless Photography Camps and Workshops. In 2014, I opened up ArtFarm, an art space in Annapolis’s arts district, with local artist and teacher Stacey Turner. It curently serves as a workshop space for art classes, gallery shows, other art-related events, and curated retail by 19fiftythree brand, Darin Gilliam.