With a passion for photography and art, and a heart pulled toward documenting love, our NJMOMpreneur Allison Caracciolo Gallagher of Allison Anne Studios aims to inspire, encourage and capture a family’s precious memories with each click of her camera. This Hammonton mom’s mantra of tenacity, self-love (get in those photos, mamas!) and embracing the hustle is infectious, and we’re motivated by the way she mentors others to see their own potential. From her local’s guide to Hammonton (hello, adorably artsy Main Street!) to her picks for some family-friendly South Jersey foodie stops, we loved sitting down with her to get insight on her favorite Jersey gems, art, business, and of course, motherhood.
featured image via Allison McCafferty
Creator of Allison Anne Studios & NJMOMpreneur Allison Caracciolo Gallagher
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Allison: At Allison Anne Studios, I customize each session for clients and I hold their hand through the process. I specialize in creating art that is designed to be treasured and passed on for generations. I document love.
You can manifest your own destiny. Think it then act it. Always move forward. Twice a week get quiet and listen to your intuition. The universe is guiding us and wants us to live out our dreams.” – NJMOMpreneur Allison Caracciolo Gallagher
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Allison: I always loved taking pictures. When I was in my early teens I used to shoot film with my dad on his Pentax k500. I loved the idea of composition within the lens and storytelling, but I never thought it would turn into a career. My mother was a stay home mom and when she received an inheritance from her father’s death, she used that to put me through art school. She pushed me into it. I honestly was skeptical I could make a career out of it. Hence my business name, Allison Anne Studios – my mother’s name is Anne.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Allison: My favorite part is two-fold for sure. First, it’s that I get to document love and freeze time for people that they can then relive over and over through the artwork I provide them. Second, I get to meet really awesome people who end up being lifetime clients who I share deep friendships with.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Allison: I come from many generations of business owners: my great grandfather, grandparents, father, and sister. I studied photography at Parson’s in Paris and lived there the summer I was 21. I graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2001 and have taken multiple workshops to learn about posing, lighting, newborn styling, and business.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Allison: My tenacity. I am pushed outside of my comfort zone almost every day. The courage of attempting new things, meeting new people, challenging myself and pushing myself to be better. Pushing through the fear on the daily, and also that I have inspired others to take the leap and live out their dreams. My conversations with people always are steered to making them see how great they are and what they are worthy of accomplishing. I love inspiring people, especially the young.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Allison: In 2017, I almost left the business. I was feeling unfulfilled, a bit lost, and pretty sad. It is only because of my tenacity that I am still here and more fulfilled than ever. Also, I can be gripped with debilitating fear and most days I don’t even consider myself an artist.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Allison: Well, Allison Anne Studios recently opened a studio in Downtown Hammonton and hosted a charity event for the Center for Family Services based in Cherry Hill. Most likely I will be doing more of those events and hope to raise money for local families in Hammonton also. I love hosting parties!
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Allison: Well, as I mentioned Center for Family Services. I love the beach, so helping clean the ocean is huge for me. I give to a clean water charity and the Make a Wish Foundation monthly. I have aspirations to start my own charity to help clean the ocean and local scholarships for young artists and aspiring entrepreneurs.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Allison: Any strong badass women are my role models.The fighters. I surround myself with people who hustle more than me and who are smarter than me. Masterminds are my fuel. Each mastermind specializes in the body, the mind, the spirit, business, and money. I always want to be challenged by my circle, and I always am.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Allison: My dad told me “nobody is above you or below you, they are just different,” when I went to college. This stuck with me to this day, and it helps me when I feel myself comparing myself to others.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” -Andre Gide
This quote is about two very important things: faith and courage. In order to be different, we have to do different things, which means we travel far outside of our comfort zones. Second, faith…when we can’t see the shore for what seems like an eternity, we have faith it is there. Unwavering faith is how our dreams are manifested, faith in ourselves and the universe!
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Allison: We love the beach! We go to Ocean City or Wildwood, my 8-year-old loves the rides. I grew up spending a week in Wildwood Crest every year and those memories are still so precious to me. We also love Strathmere and usually end up at The Deauville Inn. My husband’s family is from Cape May so we go to Sunset Beach at Cape May Point. We love Sweetwater Marina & Riverdeck in the summer, listening to bands and running around while the sun sets. We visit the Hammonton Park many times throughout the spring into fall. Julia always sees a friend or two when we are there.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Allison: The fun we have and being in the presence of her boundless joy and light-hearted giggles. Learning about life as my child sees it. She is the reminder that miracles happen every day and to never take myself too seriously.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Allison: We love Annata Wine Bar in Hammonton and The Farm and Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill. Julia loves Redstone Grill in Marlton. We love to eat.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Allison: I live in Hammonton, a very quaint artsy town full of fantastic small business boutiques and family events. We have a magical main street that business owners would die for. We only live 25-35 minutes from many beaches so we can take day trips any time. My husband and I love to sneak away to Borgata in Atlantic City for a night or two. As a family, we love Back Bay Ale House and watching sunsets is always on the agenda.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Allison: You can manifest your own destiny. Think it then act it. Always move forward. At least twice a week, get quiet and listen to your intuition. The universe is guiding us and wants us to live out our dreams. Surround yourself with people that you want to mimic, people that you aspire to be one day. Then listen intently to their habits and knowledge. You will fall hard. Then you will fall again. But the mistakes are the best lessons in life. The only way I learn is by doing it wrong.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Allison: I’ve been photographing moms and families since 2005. Most moms dislike being photographed because let’s face it, we are hard on ourselves. But we need to be photographed not for us, but for our children. Have you ever looked at an image of your parents hugging you from 40 years ago and said “wow he/she had put on 10lbs”? No, that’s not what we see, and neither will your kids. Get photographed snuggling those babes, then decorate your walls with those images. When children grow up with images of their love on their walls it grows self-esteem and self-worth. Of course, call me and I will take care of this service for you.