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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Post Falls graphic designer Hara Allison juggles photography, podcasting and publishing

When guests share their stories of adversity and perseverance during “Beneath Your Beautiful” podcasts, host Hara Allison doesn’t just offer lip service. The dynamic photographer relates and couldn’t be more empathetic.

Allison, 56, grew up the youngest of six children raised by a single mother in Miami. Allison was sexually abused when she was 7 years old.

“My childhood was chaos,” the Post Falls resident said.

Despite obstacles of a difficult childhood, losing her mother at age 18, a divorce and raising two children as a single mom, Allison eventually became a graphic designer.

Allison handled graphic design for 19 years at the Festival at Sandpoint, and said she morphed at mid-life five years ago. The mother of a 28-year-old and 24-year-old attended the Archangels Summit in Toronto. The focus of the conference was dreamers, and it had a profound impact on Allison.

“I was a graphic designer my whole life, and I went to this conference in Canada to be inspired,” Allison said. “I wanted more. I started taking pictures and the rest is history. It’s my passion and I’m more well known for my photos than my graphic design.”

Allison is adept at capturing the essence of her subjects. Her photos are candid, playful and inventive. Allison’s next photo exhibit, “Through the Lens,” is slated for through April 13 at the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center in Post Falls.

“When I shoot people, I ask them about their passions,” Allison said. “They tell me their heartfelt stories.”

That’s what led to Allison’s podcast and magazine.

“It’s funny that I have the podcast, since being the youngest of six children I don’t think I spoke until I was 15,” Alison said. “But now I have a platform for people to tell their stories.

“I’ve talked to people who are dying, who have lost loved ones. I’ve talked to women about sex, and I talked with someone who has been living with HIV for 30 years. I like having difficult conversations with people. I always believe there is hope.”

Allison is proof that the most difficult circumstances can be overcome.

“I’ve been a victim for much of my life,” Alison said. “My mother died when I was very young. I was divorced with two children. I almost lost my home.

“But I took responsibility for my life. It inspired me to share with others who are going through hard things.”

The podcast, which debuted in 2021 begat “Beneath Your Beautiful” magazine. The publication, which launched in October 2022, is a photographic storytelling magazine.

“All of my talents are in the magazine,” Allison said. “It’s something that I wanted to do since I was in my 20s. But it never got off the ground due to printing expenses. But it’s a different day now and I can do it thanks to print-on-demand.

“It’s a perfect companion to the podcast. I love telling the stories about the beauty of life. We’re on our 14th issue. Life can be wonderful.”

It’s been fantastic for Allison since she met Phillip Smelser via in 2014. The couple have been married for seven years.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Allison said. “I’m very much in love.”

Not only has Allison outlived her mother and grandmother by a decade, she has boundless energy. How does Allison juggle so many responsibilities?

“It’s all because I love what I do,” Allison said. “I got up at 3 a.m. to work on the magazine. If you’re excited about something, you do it.”

And Allison does it all in the Inland Northwest.

“I love it here,” Allison said. “It’s a long way from Miami, but this is home for me.”

This story has been updated to remove an erroneous quote and description, due to a reporter’s error.