It seems like Jessica Altieri does it all, from modeling and photography to working with brands while also going to business school. What began as simply posting her photography on Tumblr back in the day has now transitioned into an Instagram of nearly 55,000 followers as a social media influencer. After moving to California last year from her hometown of Long Island, New York, Jess quickly began landing jobs and shooting everything around her. She’s worked with brands such as Seventeen Magazine, National Geographic, Hilton Hotels and more.
I was luckily enough to meet her during my time at BirkSun and working with her as part of our influencer marketing campaigns. We even shot a campaign with her in Palm Springs and stayed in touch once she finally made the move to California and she’s honestly one of the most down to earth people I know! I chatted with Jess to learn a little bit more about her journey and how she ended up in Los Angeles:
HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE THE JOB(S) YOU HAVE NOW?
Still being a fulltime student post-grad, I wasn’t interested in your average 9-5 office life. I work from home as (1) a Digital Marketing Manager – brands hire me to run their social media, help with customer service and do PR work. (2) Photographer – I work with brands on a one-time or monthly basis to do what I love the most: take photos. These photos are then used in advertising campaigns and on the brand’s social media. (3) Model – Mostly on a freelance basis, brands hire me to stand in for either in-studio, on-location or freelance modeling jobs.
WAS MODELING AN EASY THING FOR YOU TO TRANSITION INTO? WHICH DO YOU LIKE BETTER?
Yes! Most of my friends are photographers as well. Unless it’s a product shoot, every photographer needs a model so when I was around, it made sense to stand in during their photoshoots. I eventually started posting those photos to Instagram which brands would see – and now I get paid to do it!
Modeling is definitely fun but photography is my real passion. I don’t think I could live without being behind the lens. Although, knowing how much work goes into a shoot as a photographer, it’s nice to model and still be involved in the shoot but not have to do any of the lighting changes or post-processing work ☺
WHAT DOES YOUR CAMERA SETUP LOOK LIKE RIGHT NOW?
Right now I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark iii. Although I have a few lenses, pretty much everything I shoot for work is on a 50mm.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HARDEST PARTS ABOUT BEING AN “INFLUENCER”?
One of the hardest parts for me is always having my photos and “life” out there for the world to see. I love what I’m doing and I’m so thankful for the people I get to meet and the traveling I get to do. But knowing you are constantly judged can be tough. Although I do post a lot about my social life and travels, my entire life as Jessica Altieri is not up for display on the internet and I make sure of that. People can scroll through my website, Instagram and YouTube and think they know everything about me because I try to be open and relatable to my followers, but like anyone else, I do keep certain things private and not up for public display.
DO YOU FIND IT EASIER HAVING FRIENDS IN THE INDUSTRY AS WELL?
Omg yes. Back when I was living in NY people didn’t understand what I was doing. I was actually made fun of quite a lot for taking photos and “modeling”. Now that I live in CA (where everyone else is doing the same thing), it’s so nice to have people to bond and work with.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU’VE BEEN DEALING WITH THE CONSTANT CHANGES TO THE INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM?
Honestly, I don’t. Instagram is an endlessly changing medium that I’ve used as a way of expressing myself and my photography since it came to be. It will always change and I’m sure it won’t always be in our favor. It’s nice that it can provide an income at the moment but I try to keep it at a distance. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of likes, numbers and views, but we have to remember that it’s just a tool of expression and nothing more!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I would say my favorite thing would be getting to travel anytime I want.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO BREAK INTO THE WORLD OF PHOTOGRAPHY OR MODELING?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I used to worry about what people would think of me if I constantly posted “modeling pics” or the typical “influencer photo”, but you can’t care what other people think all the time! Life is way too short to constantly be worried about what others might say or think about you.
YOU ALSO RECENTLY STARTED BUSINESS SCHOOL, WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION TO GET ANOTHER DEGREE?
Social media has changed my life and over the course of the past few years, my interests and goals have changed as well. Life is too short to be stuck in one place or in the same job. I wanted to give myself more options down the line if I ever decide to start my own company and even just to further my knowledge for the businesses I am running and working with currently.
WHAT IS SOME OF YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR WORKING WITH BRANDS?
Always be professional and don’t take on a job that doesn’t fit your own branding. The point of working with brands isn’t to “look cool” or “get free stuff”. These brands are paying influencers to advertise to their following because the product fits with their lifestyle. Also – don’t forget to know your worth! It’s amazing how many brands try to get you do postings/modeling/photography for free when the reality is that you need to be getting paid for your time and efforts.
HOW DID YOU KNOW IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME TO FINALLY GET A MANAGER?
I’ve worked with a few influencer marketing agencies over the years but most of them weren’t serious and/or professional. I was sought out by the CEO of my new influencer agency earlier this year. We wound up meeting in person to chat about the potential and what exactly they provide. After deciding it would be a good fit, I signed!
YOU’VE BEEN LIVING IN CALIFORNIA FOR MORE THAN A YEAR NOW, WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO MOVE?
Everything from the weather, the people and the lifestyle. I’m a very active person and like to be outside, so dealing with New York winters after I graduated was not in the books for me haha! California has offered me so many new opportunities and jobs that I never would have gotten living in NY.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT LONG ISLAND?
Of course I miss my family but other than that, really just the food! Our bagels and Italian food are the best in the world and unfortunately that’s one thing California can’t compare to!
IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO TRAVEL NEXT?
I really would like to go to Italy! My family is Italian and I’d love to visit the city my great grandparents were born in. Also the food…I’d probably never come back haha!