Raney Peterson: “Authenticity is underrated.”

Cover Photo:
Raney Peterson’s Artwork.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with photographer and visual artist, Raney Peterson, to talk about her work and her creative journey into a career of making art for others and herself.

Raney Charlevoix Peterson

Raney grew up in Seattle, Washington, surrounded by creatives and professionals. From a young age, she was interested in creating art for the world to see. She began shooting photos at the age of 14, both digitally and on film.

After we sat down to chat, Raney told me a story about herself as a young teenager, wandering around Seattle, carrying her first film camera around her neck, as much as an accessory as a piece of equipment to facilitate her art. “I thought I was so cool,” she said with a laugh. Later on, Raney began taking senior photos for highschool students professionally. “I set my price at $300, while the big photo studio would charge at least $1000 for a package. That’s really how I got started.”  

Raney became successful among high school students and families at the time but quickly began to feel drawn towards a more creative lane with her work. She started reaching out to Instagram influencers and musicians, offering to shoot photos for free in search of the exposure that would allow her to get to the place she wanted to be. “I would get in my car and sometimes drive for hours to do these shoots. . . all over Seattle and the surrounding areas.”

She then told me stories about times when these influencers would exploit the situation and neglect to credit her in their posts and times when the photos would get internet attention and help her build a following. 

While other high schoolers were going to parties, playing sports, and goofing off, Raney was working. She made perfect grades and volunteered all while maintaining what was essentially a full-time career at 16, shooting senior portraits, influencers, and doing creative shoots with friends.

In her senior year, Raney applied to NYU—her dream school and city—a place where she believed she would be able to fully embark on her creative journey. But once the acceptance letters started coming out in the mail, she did not get one. Instead, Raney opted for a Fashion & Business program at New York’s LIM.  

Upon moving to the city, her creative work seemed to fade quickly; feeling overwhelmed and pressured at school, unhappy with her program and at a loss for where to start, Raney didn’t shoot much for her first six months until, through school, she met a friend who was a model. They began to work together often, building up Raney’s NYC portfolio. From there on, she started working with other friends, artists and creators alike.

For a long time Raney felt tied to what was trendy—as if to be a relevant artist she had to do what other influential photographers were doing; but with time and effort, she has come to a place where she is fully embracing her most eccentric and off the wall ideas and turning them into physical work. From editing style to framing and creative concepts most people would never even think of, Raney has come into her own as an up-and-coming NYC photographer.

“I’ve really enjoyed being able to work with other creatives. Like the shoot I did with you, for example. That was one of my favourites. It’s nice to work with someone who shares a creative eye and has something to contribute to the shoot. There is just a flow when that happens,” she explained.

“I feel like I’ve come to a point where I just don’t care anymore,” Raney continued. “My style has sort of shifted and become all over the place, but I feel like I’m going to do whatever weird and wild shoots and other artwork that I want to. Of course, it feels nice to receive widespread praise but I don’t need that anymore in order to feel confident and proud of what I’ve made.” 

The last thing Raney said in our interview was that “authenticity is underrated.” This speaks so much to who she is and the work she makes. Not only is she a wildly talented photographer professionally, but she also does digital illustration, block printing for fun and is still embarking on tons of other creative ventures.

I was so excited for the opportunity to interview her and I am so lucky to call her a friend and collaborator. Keep an eye out for her work via her Instagram account.

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