We sat down with Jack Alexander, to have a virtual brew and a catch up on how he turned his passion for photography, into an insanely successful career (with no signs of slowing down!)
What age were you when you got into photography?
I was 17. I got my first DSLR a few months before my 18th birthday, so that I had time to use it over summer before University started. I had just chosen to do an English Language degree as I was heading towards journalism, but by the time I finished my course, I’d long decided I wanted to pursue photography, and had already laid the foundations to make a career of it.
When did you realise that you wanted photography to be more than just a hobby?
I got obsessed pretty quickly, and just never got bored. In the 3 months I’d been shooting for fun on the Isle of Man before Uni started, it’d taken hold pretty fast. I enjoyed my course, but it didn’t compare to how much I loved taking photos. Suddenly having new people to photograph only fuelled the fire. Eight and a half years after starting, I still love it as much now.
What was the model of your first camera?
I bought a Nikon D60 on the advice of a friend who also used Nikon. I figured it’d be beneficial to use the same brand, in case I got stuck and needed pointers. Since then I’ve used a D90, D7000, D7200, and now shoot with a D500, which Nikon very kindly sent me after we began working together.
What advice would you give any budding photographer out there?
You don’t have to be the most extravagant, outlandish, creative photographer there ever was. Just shoot what you enjoy. It took me a few years to accept that there was nothing wrong with my style of shooting, as I often thought to myself I needed to do things differently, and be better somehow. There are no right and wrong answers in photography.
What’s your favourite thing to ‘shoot’?
People are by far the most fascinating thing to me. There’s so much you can do. Expressions, different hair and make-up looks, interesting angles. You can incorporate elements of fashion and landscape photography. Human subjects are what people relate most to.
Who’s been your favourite ‘celebrity’ subject?
Probably Joss Stone. It took over a year to get a date in the diary, as our schedules just never aligned. She’s currently on a huge world tour – and by world tour, I mean visiting and performing in every single country in the world, so she’s quite busy to say the least!
We did the shoot at her house which is surrounded by huge fields. She was just a lovely person – keen to shoot, incredibly hospitable and super-photogenic. She made us sandwiches – even one for the train back to London.
Any goss from any shoots on set?
Thankfully I don’t have too many horror stories to tell! Most celebrities are relaxed on set, but you have to remember that in this context, everyone is a professional and has a job to do – we’re not there as fans. I once had a stylist announce the night before a shoot that she hadn’t managed to source ANY clothes whatsoever…not quite what you want to hear at 11pm.
Another occasion a (different) stylist was whispering in my ear that I’d need to photoshop the actress we were shooting to make her slimmer, I quote, “otherwise the magazine would not accept the images.” That was pretty awful. I didn’t photoshop her slimmer and the images ran perfectly fine.
Can you get all Mariah and demand things to be just as you want them when you head to a shoot?
I’d hate for anyone on a set to think I’m high maintenance, so I like to think I keep things pretty low-key! I’m almost always responsible for leading the organisation of a shoot, so it’s normally me who is catering to everyone else’s needs, making sure we have music playing and refreshments available, etc. Somebody’s got to do it!
What big projects do you have coming up this year?
I want to get back to shooting more personal projects this year. It’s hard sometimes, when you’re doing this for money, you don’t have as much time to take pictures purely for the love of it. I’ve got a few magazine covers coming out which is really fun! I’m itching to travel and will be heading to LA and Australia this year.
I also want to do more teaching and public speaking, and will be moderating an expert panel discussion on 31st January, which is something I never thought I’d do, photography has made me much more confident!
I’m continuing my working relationship with Nikon so I’m excited to see where that goes. Much of my efforts recently have been going into my writing too, as I write for a few photo community sites. I want to focus on working with a few charities as well. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years but finally want to commit to.
2017 will be a hard year to beat, but I’m optimistic yet!