New Zealand, Switzerland, Greece, Africa... you name it - and Alex Stead has probably been there. Alex Stead is a London, UK based travel and adventure photographer who has traveled the world working for some of the biggest brands to capture nature and cities at their best. Did we mention he is only 22? After attending University and traveling to exotic locations for shoots between classes, Alex realized that he'd be better off learning on the road and left after one year. Like many of the best musicians - learning by doing - since leaving University, Alex has developed his work through actual shoots than in the classroom.... which has obviously proved beneficial! We are thrilled to interview Alex.
What is your name, where are you from, and where do you live now?
I’m Alex Stead, I’m a London based professional photographer.
How did you get interested in photography and how has that developed over the years?
I started photography as a hobby when I was 12, the days before Instagram! I know,… crazy…! I further studied this through school... I really loved the creativeness of photography and what you can do and tell in a single image. At the age of 18, I took my studies further to university. I hated it! I dropped out after a year and started working full-time freelance, now been lucky enough to work with brands like Shangri-la, Mercedes, Nikon, etc. I have never looked back and have worked pro for 3 years.
You have traveled all over the world, including Thailand, New Zealand, Iceland etc. - what are some of the most memorable places you have photographed and why?
The most memorable trips starts with India, I went on a trip and they opened the Tai-Malahi for a group of photographer 5 minutes before the crowds. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but we had the place to ourselves for that small window – which seemed like forever. We ran like crazy!
Thailand was amazing, especially the lantern festival we went to, Changi-Mai. I just finished my third shoot in the Maldives last year and I can’t wait go back! It is full of amazing reefs, beaches and remote islands. It has everything you could want.
What kind of adventures inspire you the most?
I love road trips, driving to remote areas or different places each day. I hate being in a country and having no control over where we end up. I’ve been lucky enough to do road trips around the world. I think the ones which stand out are the ones we encounter the most unique weather, this isn’t just talking about amazing sunrises or sunsets…. But snow, rain and wind.
Other adventures which inspire me is traveling with other photographers or videographers. It’s really inspiring to see other creative people work and work with them… Really bouncing creative ideas off each other and pushing each other’s work the way few others can.
What do you like so much about travel and being on the road?
It’s hard to put this into words. I travel 6+ months of the year. Of course I miss my family and girlfriend when traveling and on the road, but I just love being on the road. I love jumping on a plane and ending up in a new culture or beautiful place. Meeting new people and making new friends in the industry. I also love that each day is different, a challenge… My work is always about what the weather is doing, bad or good – it’s about how we can work around those conditions so we don’t just sit around waiting for the perfect day! We have deadlines, you know…!
With so many photographers, the place you are going has most likely been shot thousands of times – so it’s about taking on the location with your on view and photography style – and creating this from your own perspective.
What has photography and traveling around the world taught you? Any important life lessons?
I think that it’s important to be calm in all situations, which I still find to be a challenge… Photography can be very stressful. Sometimes equipment fails, or things break, the weather is terrible and so on... All these put a lot of pressure on you as the photographer to sort it out quickly or think on your feet of a solution.
Quite a few of these shoots I do has a director or person from the client’s firm overseeing the shoot - so being calm even in one of these situation is important.
Also it’s about who you know, so 100% go out and talk to people. If it’s another photographer… the person who sat next to you on the plane or in the bar... Photography as a business is about going to meet people and make as many connections around the world as you can.
Where do you want to visit around the world and why?
I really want to visit Jordan. I was supposed to have a client shoot there last year but had an injury which stopped me from going! It looks incredibly beautiful! Also, I really want to go to Hong Kong as I’d love to capture the street life and the life of such a busy city.
If you could bring along any three people (living or dead) on the road with you - who would it be and why?
Is this famous people or!? Ha…! First, I would bring along my girlfriend. I love traveling with her and have taught her a lot about photography and the way I work, she’s turned out to be a great and fun assistant on shoots! I know this isn’t quite three people, but I’d love to bring my family on a trip.
I’m super lucky to do the work I do and to stay in the amazing places I visit… also the access to locations we get is crazy on some shoots… anything is possible. I’d love to take them all on a trip to experience this!
Thanks so much to Alex Stead for sharing his experiences and insights!