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Passion leads Alim to focus on photography
Sierra High alum John Alim is working to build a photography business pursuing a passion that started while attending college in San Diego. - photo by Photo Contributed

John Alim always liked photography.

As a student at Sierra High School he took it as a class and learned the basics – how to frame the subject, what to look for and how to develop the picture once you had captured it.

But it wouldn’t be until he needed a class to fill his schedule at San Diego Mesa College that he would fully begin to comprehend the world of photography and uncork the artistic passion that he always had but never understood how to channel.

“The thing that really changed me was the freedom of creativity that you have with photography,” Alim said. “I’ve never been a book smart person and I hated taking tests, but I realized that in these classes everything was hands on and you got a chance to express how creative you were as a person.”

After getting his hands wet with the basics in digital photography, Alim dove headfirst into the world of photo editing and fell in love with Photoshop, quickly learning that he had the ability to create the sorts of things that he had always appreciated but never understood. Posters, flyers and retouched photos were suddenly at his fingertips, and he started to believe that he had found his true calling.

He moved back up to Manteca to take a job with his father’s company, and used his newfound photography knowledge to create some playing cards for his girlfriend’s brother – who was playing youth football for a local team at the time.

Little did he know that he would attract the attention of the other parents who wanted the same thing done with their children – churning the wheels in his mind.

All of a sudden what had always been a hobby started to blossom into a business.

“That’s when I realized that this was something that I could start to do professionally,” Alim said. “I decided right then and there to start my own business, and it’s been something that’s been slowing growing ever since.”

Rather than choosing to focus in a designated field – nature photography, weddings, portraits, sports photography – Alim keeps an open mind and takes things as they come his way, making sure to not rule anything out. It was the advice of a professor, who told him that by focusing on just one thing, others might pass you up and you could miss finding the thing that you truly love.

Two years into working on his own and Alim has already tackled most of what the photography world has to offer and keeps his options completely open when it comes to shoots – even if they might be from completely opposite sides of the spectrum.

“Last week I shot pictures for a rapper to use for the cover of his album and then pictures of a lady and her cupcakes,” he said with a laugh. “This is the only profession where you can work with both of those things in the same day and get paid for it. Right now I’ve got to work with everything that I can.”

And he’s branching out even further.

Through a friendship he struck up with the owner at Jack’s Pizza Café on West Yosemite Avenue, he organized an event where upwards of 50 people will come enjoy a variety of different pies in a buffet fashion while he takes photos of people enjoying the cuisine for the restaurant to hang on their walls and use in advertisements – opening his business up into a different area.

It’s just one more feather in the cap of a man trying to make himself a jack-of-all -trades when it comes to wielding a camera.

“It’s the first time that I’ve done something like this, and it’ll be good to build something up to show that I can do advertising shots as well,” said Alim of the sold-out event. “The reason that I love doing this isn’t necessarily to impress people, but to think outside of the box and to create something that somebody else hasn’t already created.

“I want somebody to look at my work and be speechless. I don’t want to have the cookie-cutter hand-on-the-chin shots. I want to create something different and artistic – that’s what this is all about for me.”

For more information about Alim, visit his facebook page at