Woodchuck 30th Anniversary Artist Spotlight – Rachel Pressley
November 23, 2021
Name: Rachel Blaire Pressley
Location: Asheville, NC
Profession: Commercial Photographer + Published Journalist
Length: About 5 years
Welcome to our Woodchuck 30th Anniversary blog series where we will be highlighting hand-selected creatives every week through the Fall. This year marks our 30th Anniversary and we have asked 25 creatives from across the country to help celebrate 30 years of creativity and innovation by sharing with us what creativity means to them. We sat down with each creative to hear more about how they use creativity on a daily basis and what influences their work. See below for our conversation with Rachel!
W- Hey, Rachel! Thanks for taking some time to sit down and chat with us today. We just want to learn a bit more about you as a creative. How did you get your start behind the camera?
R- I started photography in college at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Living in the mountains of Western NC for college allowed me plenty of accessibility to the outdoors and the endless hiking trails. I was given a crop sensor Canon camera as a teenager (17 years old), since I had been into shooting with point-and-shoots and disposable film cameras since I was about 12 years old. Once I moved to Boone, I started chasing almost every sunset, plenty of sunrises, and made sure to have my camera glued to me for each hike so I could practice shooting and documenting my adventures. I made it a goal to post on Instagram, and continued to grow through social media, networking and taking classes in Photography and Journalism. My degree is in Sustainable Development (concentration was Environmental Studies), with two minors in Commercial Photography and Journalism. I landed an internship writing and shooting for The Appalachian Voice my junior year of college, where I got experience in becoming a published environmental journalist and even got a few of my landscapes published as well. I shot my first wedding when I was 21 years old, and have been shooting weddings each year since. I worked for a magazine publication as the Editorial Assistant for 3 years after college (2018-2021) and recently switched to doing photography full time back in August.
W- Wow, that’s quite the journey! Lots of twists, turns and redirects that got you to where you are now, but it all seems like very valuable experience nonetheless. Through all of your writing and all of your photography, where do you find yourself drawing inspiration from?
R- I am constantly coming up with hair brain adventures to drag my friends out on with me — and they are usually concepts that take place at sunset or sunrise, so everyone in my life knows I’ll leave the house at 4am and stay out till midnight if I feel like it’s needed to support my creative endeavors. The same notion of documenting my hikes has continued to push me to shoot and put out new work consistently. I’d say that hiking and being out in nature is at the core of why I do what I do. I struggle with chronic depression and generalized anxiety disorder, so getting outside to breathe fresh air and exercise is really important to me and keeping my mental health in check. I’ve found that over the years, the work that I have shot for myself makes me stand out as an adventure photographer, so I think that I will always hold on to that passion for that reason as well. My portrait and commercial work is also derived intrinsically, but I love to connect with others and develop concepts or ideas that look great across the board to my audience and the audience of the brand that I am working with.
W- The art of photography is unique in the sense that you are able to easily pair it with your passions and interests. In your case, photography allows you to quench your thirst for adventure as it often gives you a reason to get outside and explore. Photography also allows you to think creatively while out on these adventures, whether it’s thinking about shot composition or lighting or action in a shot. Whit that being said, as an adventure/landscape photographer, what does “creativity” mean to you?
R- To me, following something that you’re passionate about, despite others’ opinions — that is creativity. Following it all the way down the line, even if it truly led you to a dead end. Creativity is about trying to construct something outside of your comfort zone, and letting your imagination take the lead. It’s about trial and error, trying and trying again to get something how you’ve envisioned it. It’s one of the most self-explorative actions that you can do for yourself. Creativity is an energizing and stimulating exercise for your mind, it often helps you network within a community of similar or inspired creatives, and it allows you to display your perspective on reality in any medium.
W- We can really relate to the idea of trying something despite the opinions of others. We make cider because WE like it. We love that other people enjoy it as well, but we do it ultimately because it is our passion. Being creative, to us, is an opportunity for innovation. In the realm of hard cider, there are traditional and experimental ways of going about things and we enjoy doing both!
Prior to joining us in our 30th anniversary celebration, did you have any prior experiences with Woodchuck? Through your involvement, was there anything that you learned that you would like to share?
R- I was not too familiar with Woodchuck, but I have tasted hard cider before and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to test out Woodchuck’s. Through learning about Woodchuck’s history, I think it’s so cool to be working with a company that was the first top selling hard cider company in the nation back in the 90s. Something that has really resonated with me about Woodchuck is that Woodchuck’s mission is, “doing things your own way and staying true to your roots.” Standing out is something that many people today think of as negative, but, with the oversaturation of media and content being put out in the world, standing out, no matter how different, can likely be the key to success. Like I mentioned earlier, I have continued to pursue the niche of adventure photography over the years in my specific style, because I know that the photos I take on those trips are what make me stand out as a photographer and fellow creative. Because I struggle with mental health, I approach the outdoors in a different way than others do, and I think that’s okay. I want to inspire others to get outdoors and soak in nature, but to do so at their own pace, and in their own ways. Staying true to what has always brought me joy within photography is really important to me. No matter what kind of photography I end up getting to do, my ‘roots’ will always be focused on spending time in the natural world and learning about the interconnectedness among mental health awareness.
W- Very well said. Keep staying true to yourself, Rachel! Thanks again for your time today.
Rachel took to the hiking trails, as she does so frequently, to enjoy some cider in one of her favorite settings out in nature. Go check her photos out on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and be sure to check out our online cider store and online merch store. There, you’ll be able to stock yourself up with your favorite cider and purchase some all-new Woodchuck swag like t-shirts, Glassware, hats and more!
Cheers and Happy Cider Sippin!Back to Blog