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Artist Interview: Alex(andra) Blair

Artist Interview: Alex(andra) Blair

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Get to Know Artist Alex(andra) Blair!

Alex(andra) Blair (@ishootwhatever) is a DMV based photographer. She has dedicated her time to shooting portaits, landscapes, and events. Her signature work focuses on portraiture, capturing natural expression and nature. Follow her work on instagram for more visuals!

Tell us a little bit about how you got into photography. How long have you been shooting?

I started “real” photography in January of 2017 when I ordered my first camera and lens on eBay (a Canon 5D Mark II and a Sigma 24-70). I was lucky that they arrived the day before I took off on a Eurotrip, and that the lens actually fit the body, as I knew nothing about cameras then. I did ask a wonderful photographer that I was friends with what she recommended, and this just goes to show how amazing the photography community can be. In my journey through photography I have met so many people who are now close friends of mine through taking photos!

You “like to play in different mediums.” What are you deep into right now?

Currently I am about the film street shots life, especially with my Rolleiflex 3.5T vintage camera (Zeiss-Tessar 75mm lens) and developing film. Any film camera, right down to a disposable, is exciting for me! I am obsessed with abandoned places; I also would love to get into more risqué work on the classier/artsier side of the spectrum - the human body is a beautiful thing! I enjoy doing fashion/editorial shoots, too!

[taken with Rolleiflex 3.5T]

[taken with Rolleiflex 3.5T]

What kind of messages or emotions are you trying to convey with your work?

In my work I am trying to convey real beauty in all aspects of photography (I love making friends and clients feel beautiful), raw life, and sadness. Show, don’t tell.

What message or advice do you have for young creatives just starting out?

Isn’t everybody a “photographer” these days? I would have to say:

  • get a used but great camera

  • don’t be afraid to get advice from photographer acquaintances and friends

  • go on adventures

  • follow your ideas

  • get inspiration from artists that inspire you

  • do some free shoots (everybody wants lit photos for the gram)

  • charge when you are at that level (and don’t undersell yourself)

  • don’t do anything you aren’t truly interested in [because it shows]

  • LEARN HOW TO EDIT (and develop an editing style that does justice to your photos)

  • Playaround with flipping images if that will add a zest to the photograph (see below)

  • Don’t be cocky

[Taken on my current digital camera, Sony A7rii]

[Taken on my current digital camera, Sony A7rii]

What inspires an image for you?

I am what you would call a prop person. I LOVE props! I think they can make photos so much more interesting than just walking around shooting, unless you have a super cool location. I plan out and style my own shoots extremely carefully and thoughtfully.

What goes into being a professional photographer?

Being a professional photographer is all about, you guessed it, professionalism. I want to touch on professionalism when dealing with clients (whether paid or unpaid) and making them comfortable, because I think this is so incredibly important. There has certainly been a lot of talk about photographers who are inappropriate with their clients in a sexual manner, and I want to let those people know that we see you. Not only is it completely immoral, you will get caught - and the truth always comes out. Being creepy and unprofessional also ruins the the photography community, reputations, and the fun for everyone. Don’t be that person.

Explain your workflow and how you know when you’re done editing an image.

I have to admit, I’m not one of those photographers who thoroughly enjoys editing - mostly because I am so particular about everything I do. I have certain steps that I follow in the post-processing of an image (those change when it’s a portrait vs. a landscape. When those steps are followed through is when I feel I should be finished - but it’s not always the case that I like what I end up with, and every edit I scrap and redo on the same image will turn out different.

[Taken on Sony A7rii, 24-70 lens] Model: Jasmine Lewis

[Taken on Sony A7rii, 24-70 lens] Model: Jasmine Lewis

What kind of tools do you use for post processing?

I use Photoshop (primarily because I feel that you can do more with the image), and the liquify tool, which some photographers are opposed to. That being said, I do start my edits in Lightroom. At the beginning (see below image), before I started using presets, I solely depended on Photoshop. I only knew how to do simple steps like contrast/brightness, saturation, selective colors, etc. then! I’ve grown a lot in editing through help from friends.

[Taken on my old Canon 5D Mark II, right before the Sigma lens tanked]

[Taken on my old Canon 5D Mark II, right before the Sigma lens tanked]

What are things you look for when composing your shot?

I dunno, I just do it. I take as many photos as I can from all different angles and hope for the best! Then I flip through them very, very carefully and star favorites with different rankings.

What’s your favorite lens? Why?

My absolute most favorite favorite lens in the whole wide world will probably always be the 24-70. It’s versatile, gives you so much more control IMO, and is fun to use if you love zooming in and out as much as I do. I sold my 50mm because I absolutely hated it! Film cameras are a different story, I don’t mind the fixed lenses in those cases.

Explain some hardships you’ve experienced as a creator.

As a creator, there are many hardships for me! Finding the time to shoot and edit, editing in general, people not liking their photos (happened once that a model told me she didn’t like one of her photos, only because she thought she looked bad), and last but not least, people expecting and asking for free photos. I can’t think of anything that irks me more when it comes to professional photography, and when these people message me (especially when they try to gas me up by telling me my work is “amazing"). To these people (instagram “models” are the worst offenders in my experience) I flatly say “No, I don’t work for free” and then they typically ghost me, which makes me even more crazy! I’ve spent more on photography equipment than I’d like to admit (I’m sure we all have), and I think it’s totally rude for people to assume that I will take their photos for free.


Focal Collective: Artist Interview Series

Focal Collective would like to thank our contributing artists! This recurring propensity to create and growing community continues to inspire us. Are you interested in sharing your story? Feel free to apply to our Artist Interview Series with your portfolio, IG, and a brief introduction via our contact page. We'll look out for your message!

Focal Points: Adventure, Tutorial, Gear

If you enjoy our artist interview series, feel free to check out Focal Collective’s other adventure, tutorial, and gear review sections from our blog section Focal Points! We also have free adventure and tutorial content on our YouTube channel!

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