Alex has been putting out some amazing work recently. We reached out and he graciously accepted an offer to talk about how he got started and share some of his experienced wisdom. Enjoy!
Give us a bit of your background and how you got started in nature photography.
I acquired my first point-and-shoot camera when I was 4 years old, and I was hooked from that point forward. My photos were absolutely atrocious (some might say that about my work today!), but I just loved having a way to capture and record all of the things I saw around me.
I have always enjoyed hiking, skiing, and simply being in the mountains. As my interests in the outdoors grew, and I got my hands on a DSLR, I realized that these two passions of mine could be combined. As I slowly discovered photographers whose work I enjoyed, and many of the amazing online resources there are at the disposal of a novice nature photographer, the snowball effect began to take place, and has led me right to where I am now. I have also been extremely fortunate to have great friends and mentors in Joe Rossbach and Ian Plant.
Walk us through your creative process. What happens before you click the shutter?
When photographing, I sometimes set out with a specific subject or composition in mind, but I find that I just as often come across images spontaneously in the field, when reacting to the conditions around me. I look for decisive convergences of light, weather, and form, and make an effort to arrange them in a way that pleases the eye.
What advice would you give to the younger crowd looking to get recognized for their photography?
I take issue with this question. I believe that if a young photographer is looking to get recognized for their photography by others, more so than they are looking to find their unique vision and create their own art, then they are most likely destined to fail.
I’m not sure that I can give advice to the entire younger crowd, but this is what I would tell a younger version of myself:
Be patient. Nobody has become a great photographer overnight. It takes a long time to hone in your vision. You will undoubtedly return home from the field disappointed – and often. When this happens, address what you think you did wrong, remember it, and try not to make the same mistakes the next time you are presented with a similar scenario. The process of trial and error, when combined with a positive, resilient attitude, will teach you so much more than anything else.
Don’t put too much stock into the praise you may receive on social media sites. Try to build relationships with other photographers whose work you admire, and listen to what they have to say instead. Having a sound mentor or two will do so much more for your art and craft than listening to what hundreds of practically anonymous people on the Internet might have to say.
What plans do you have for the next year?
This July, I will tour Europe with my band, Vestiges. After this, I plan to head to arctic Norway for a month, photographing the beautiful mountains and fjords. In September, I head back to Olympia, Washington, where I live, to begin my final year of college. This next fall, winter, and spring, will include: photographing Polar Bears in northern Alaska, Canada’s Banff and Jasper National Parks, a brief visit to the Appalachians, and of course, photographing as much as possible near my home in the Pacific Northwest.
Talk about one of your favorite places to photograph and include an image with it’s backstory.
I suspect my answer to this question may change after I spend a month in Norway later this year, but for now, I have never enjoyed photographing anywhere as much as the islands which make up Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. These remote, empty islands of Scotland have absolutely remarkable coastlines and mountains, harsh weather, and way more sheep than people! Ian Plant and I spent ten days exploring and photographing there in 2012, and we had a both amazing and productive time.
Any upcoming workshops, books, etc?
I am currently in the middle of three weeks of almost nonstop private and group workshops. After this, I will focus on my personal shooting and traveling, until September, when I will lead a soon-to-be-announced workshop in the Pacific Northwest.