Aly Wilson is a local photographer who is taking her passion and experience with automobiles and turning it into art. Wilson currently has her photography on display in the Community Room at the Imperial Beach Library, and hopes to inspire anyone with an interest in the automotive industry to feel comfortable and confident to explore that area as well.
Wilson’s love for cars started at an early age. She grew up going to car shows with her family and as a teenager would tape up photographs of classic cars from themed calendars to display on the walls of her room. “I’ve worked in the automotive field for 15 years and started at the AutoZone down the street,” said Wilson, an Imperial Beach local and 2006 Mar Vista graduate.
“I’m a learner. I love automotive because you’re never going to stop learning something new. You’re never going to know everything and there are always new technologies out there,” she mentioned. Wilson started taking pictures of cars around the same time as she began working in the industry, being heavily involved on a professional level inspiring her to start taking shots at the cars shows she was invited to attend.
“San Diego has a very cool, very diverse car culture and there’s not enough spotlight on that,” Wilson explained. “I love 50s and 60s era cars; hot rods, and American classics and muscle cars, especially,” she added of her favorites. When it comes to taking photos of cars, Wilson always tries to include a reflective shot on the chrome or rims – a signature shot that is one of her favorites as an automotive photographer.
While Wilson also does some lifestyle, food, family, and urban photography, her concentration and passion lies in the automotive scene and has become a family activity for her as well. “I have two boys and both are gearheads as well; they’ve been going to car shows and races since they were born,” she told me. Wilson takes them to the Goodguys Meguiar Del Mar Nationals car show with her every year where they enjoy the festivities and watching races, taking pictures, and just being a family.
“My oldest likes to take after his mama and has enjoyed taking pictures for a few years now,” she mentioned.
While automotive work can be demanding, she’s grateful it also provides opportunities to involve her family at events, and her dream is to be able to merge her work with the automotive industry with her passion for photography so she can spend more time with her family. “I’m inspired by my sons and my family to keep these traditions alive,” she said.
To that end, Wilson has been working to start her own magazine, the San Diego Automotive Magazine, and hopes to inspire others with it.
“I want to use this venue to empower other women and anyone that has an interest in something new to not be afraid to join this industry,” she said. Wilson has experienced firsthand the types of stereotypical gender expectations that surround the automotive field, with customers and co-workers alike sometimes bypassing her for a male employee, only to find that employee to bring the issue to her as the manager and expert.
Just as she’s expected to not know as much, she sees how male customers can sometimes feel guilty for not knowing a lot about cars. “It’s really important to me that anybody who wants to get in a trade like this doesn’t get intimated,” Wilson mentioned. “I’d love to see more ladies in the field…I have seen a change over the years with [how many] more women there are.”
Wilson hopes to be able to feature local women in the industry in the San Diego Automotive Magazine, as well as local mom and pop automotive shops, spotlights on projects and events happening around the city, human interest stories of fellow gearheads, and interactive elements for kids to get involved as well as coloring contests. “I want to marry my artistic and technical passions while exposing such an awesome and diverse car scene that we have here in San Diego,” she told me.
While the pandemic put her magazine endeavor on hold over the past year, Wilson is looking to pick back up on those plans and welcomes any locals to reach out who may have photos or a story they would want featured in the magazine. Wilson currently has social media pages set up for the magazine where people can contact her, learn more, and see more of her automotive photography which can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sdautomag/ or on Instagram via @sdautomag.
Wilson’s photography can also be viewed as part of the Art and Photography exhibition at the Imperial Beach Library at 810 Imperial Beach Boulevard right now.
“I joke it’s the longest exhibit they’ve had,” Wilson said with a laugh, rolling with the punches as the pandemic caused the library to be closed for over a year almost immediately after the exhibit opened.
For more of Wilson photography and how to contact her, visit her photography Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/msalykatphoto/.