Stuff That Alex is Curious About
In this little chit chat, I want to put your home, because you're pretty vocal about where you live.
Wales. You talk about home a lot, so it seems like it is important to you. It is to me, at lest.
That's why I picked it out. I wanna talk about home a lot. So I guess, this is only things I'm intrigued about. Nobody's prompting these questions, I'm just curious about these.
So I guess, what I like the most about your work is the fact that it doesn't require, always, travel to exotic places.
And you're good at telling stories around your home.
And making these sets, and I feel like very few people can do that. So I'd like to hear more about what it's like. How do you get the inspiration? Because it's hard to shoot somewhere you know so well. What do you draw the inspiration from?
Well, maybe I'll start with the reasons I do it. I do it because I'm doing it for myself, more than anyone else.
They're memories that I'm creating ...
So you have this--
And the fact they're resonating, I guess, is a bonus for me. I mean, if Instagram wasn't around, I'd still be doing it, you know?
(laughs) I love that, I love that, yeah.
And I was doing it before Instagram came along. It was actually a real surprise to me when I started sharing stuff on Instagram, from my home, and I started getting these messages in, saying, "Whoa, we love what you're doing. You know, I never knew Whales was like that."
That's gotta feel good.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I guess it's like that little reward for what you're doing. I guess, yeah, it's coming from here. It's coming from my heart. I'm not doing it for likes. I'm not doing it for engagement reasons. I'm not doing it for any other reason than myself.
I love that if Instagram wasn't here, you'd still be doing it. That's what should be at the core of everybody taking photos, I feel like.
I believe so. I believe so.
Because a lot of people started with Instagram.
So this is good messages.
What if Instagram dies tomorrow, what would you be doing? What would you be photographing?
Well, I'd still be shooting my home life around me. I mean, like, I've got a family, and I live in a beautiful part of the world, and I love documenting us interacting with it, you know? It's a tough place to live, it's not easy.
It's pretty remote, yeah.
It's pretty remote.
The old world.
(laughs) It's the old world, as you call it. (both laughing) But I kinda like that. I like being in touch with--
We can tell.
The natural environment. You know, we cut our own firewood, and busy ourselves with jobs like that to keep the house running.
You're connected to the land, a lot. You have a lot of land around the house.
Yeah, we have a few acres, we have animals.
I feel like I've been there, through your photos.
Yeah, that's why I've never bothered to come visit. (both laughing) I feel like I've been there.
You feel like you've been there, all ready.
I feel like I've been. I want to go, but I'm always like, ah... It's almost like I've been there, because your photos really bring you in.
They're not all the, like you do, you know, these perfect bangers, it's just, like, great details, and all the cutaways, all the (indistinct) you talked about, I found them there.
Yeah, it's just little things that I notice, you know? Just shootin', (indistinct).
So what would you say to somebody who's got trouble shooting their home, who feels like they gotta go on a trip to Bali to make photos? What if they live in Nebraska, and they're like, "It sucks around my house,"? What do you tell them?
It wouldn't suck to me, you know? Like, I don't know anything about Nebraska, you know? Shoot it, and--
Nice place. Pretty flat, but it's good.
Yeah, but you know, I went on holiday to Norfolk, which is on the other side of the country to Wales, and everyone was saying to me, "Oh, it's super flat, really boring." I thought it was amazing, because I come from the mountains, and like, you know, that's what I see every day, and so going to this super flat, minimal landscape... I guess what I'd say is, it's really nice to hear from other people about where you live, and that's what's nice about it, and maybe that's--
It's pride for where you are, I guess--
Yeah, and maybe that's helped me shoot more where I live, because people are really interested in having it.
That's interesting, so you should build some pride of where you live, so you can show that.
Yeah, yeah, but also, I think... I don't know, we live in a world where we're bombarded with pictures of Bali.
Epic, blah, blah, blah. You can't live a life solely on epic, and traveling around the world. All right, you can do it in your gap year, maybe, in between collage, but you know. I mean, we do it a little bit, I guess, but it's not a permanent existence. So don't get too bogged down on that. And I don't think anyone's permanently on the road. So you might be following someone, and they're posting old pictures, and that might bog you down.
Might make you feel bad around home.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but, I don't know, there's beauty everywhere, all around us, and I think it's, like, slowing down, noticing what's around you, little things.
So that's where you would start for somebody. Like, you'd tell them to build some pride, and slow down, look around.
Yeah, like, really, really look around you.
Yeah, drive down this random road you've never driven down, or walk down this random path, I feel like.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, follow roads, really good fun.
Just random, yeah. (laughs)
And drive round, just follow a track, I'll do that.
I'll drive down, like, farm lanes, you just, like, come out, and it doesn't matter. You just, like, get to the end, "Oh, sorry, wrong turn." It's curious, stay curious.
Stay curious is, like, really, really, key.
That's a good one, stay curious. How is it to live a successful career, make a living, from a rural place? Because most people think that, they're photographers, they got to go to the big city, because that's where the jobs are. And I mean, I disagree with that. You seem to disagree with that. (laughs)
Well, it brings you closer to those jobs, but I can still jump on a train, travel three hours, and I can be in London, you know? It's a schlep. To get here, took three and half hours to get to the airport. You know, it's like, a European flight just to get to the airport.
But on the flip side, the costs of living in the countryside, way, way lower compared to London.
That's true, that's true.
So you know, I could spend all my money on rent, living in London, and I can just go 20 minutes to the airport, or I can live in the countryside, and have a few acres around me.
Yeah, some peace.
Live a really, pretty chill life. You know, shooting jobs like this, or other jobs, is actually quite pressurized, and I find it takes a lot out of me, because I'm giving a lot to the job, creatively, emotionally. So actually, coming back to the countryside, sitting on my little porch, I get to, like, put myself back together, a little bit. I think I find it really restorative.
If I was to, like, go back to the city, where everything's, like, err.
Still moving a lot. Just shouting at you.
Yeah, and also, I feel like living in a remote place helps you individualize a little bit. There's a lot of influence in the city, there's a lot of noise, there's a lot of--
We were talking about it the other day, yeah.
Yeah, when we were walking through that shopping mall.
Mall culture, pop culture.
Yeah, exactly, and you're walking through it--
There's a lot of influence.
And it's like, oh, buy this, (mumbles), go here, go here. I find that sort of, like, fills my head with a lot of crap.
It comes back with developing your taste, I feel like, because if you have no external influence, you can build your own taste, I guess.
Yeah, I agree.
Instead of just being homogenized with everybody else.
That's why I live in the mountains.
Yeah, the other thing is kids, you know? I've got two kids, and I call it low-pressure parenting, living in a remote area. You know, if I live in the city, I've got to pay to entertain my kid. Or I've got to literally hold their hand to go out the door and go out to the play park, and sit in the play park, and make sure they're okay. (laughs)
That's completely it.
You know, that all chews up time, whereas at home--
Go outside. (laughs)
Open the door, even if it's wet, put them in a boiler suit, kick 'em out the door, and then they go and play with sticks.
(laughs) That's brilliant.
And there's a lot more, like, creative play, and building tree houses, you know? So yeah, it's low-pressure on me, but it's low-pressure for them, too. So yeah, it makes more sense. I mean, it definitely adds a bit of travel time, living in the countryside.
But I think the positives out way the negatives.
I agree, but then, how do you tell somebody, like, how do you get the job? You know, I gotta be in the city to get the jobs.
I disagree with that, too.
Why, I mean, a lot of the jobs that--
'Cause they can go into meetings. There's all this whole conversation about, yeah, I can go into meetings, I'm top of mind, there.
Yeah, well, that helps. I mean, I do, like, portfolio visits, like, four times a year.
Okay, you do, like portfolio visits, you go there specific... I do the same, I go to the city, and line up five meetings.
And then, I go back in the woods. (laughs)
And that's really, really important, to have that face-to-face contact.
Yeah, it's really important, yeah, being top of mind.
But once you've sort of done that for a couple of years, you can, like, email these people that you've met.
Or text them.
Or text them, DM them, whatever. But a lot of work, actually, I'll sort of establish remotely. You know, if I'm working--
Does that help you, for your brand, do you think? Does that help you, being in the woods, actually, to build a different aesthetic, and a different story, compared to someone else in the city?
Well, as discussed, I guess, we, like, individualize more.
So I can sort of, like--
Yeah, and I think people like the aesthetic that I'm driving via the pictures that I post, via Instagram. Picking a lot of car work, because people love the landscapes I shoot--
Because you can play around with Hector, yeah?
Yeah, yeah. Hector has is own Instagram account. I mean, he was actually employed by that brand. (laughs)
Oh, Hector was employed by Land Rover?
That's pretty revolutionary. (both laughing)
Yeah, yeah. (indistinct)
But this is good, because I feel like being somewhere remote makes you unique. More unique than someone in the city, story-wise, at least. If you're doing interviews, or something, there's always more texture to talk about, I feel.
Hundred percent, people, like, will reference that. Oh, isn't that that guy who lives in the mountains, who cuts his own wood?
Yeah, the back mountain, yeah, yeah.
Whereas, you know, I've lived in London, like, I've been--
It's funny, whenever I'm on a shoot, a lot of the crew are from London, and everyone's getting to know each other, and everyone's like, "Oh, where you from?" And they're like, "Oh, I'm from London." And I come out, the conversation had kind of stopped, but if I say, "Well, I'm from the mountains of Whales," they're like, "Oh, really?"
What is it like, yeah.
Well, they're interested, because it's a different chitter.
I find that interesting, too.
Yeah, it's good for the brand.
It was good for the brands, and good for the brain, and good for the health, good for everything.
Yeah, I can't see a downside.
We're both pretty convinced on that. (laughs)
But no, no, there is a downside. It's a small place, and so, socially, you know, there's not as much stimulation, and that's why I love my job, because it takes me out of that.
You get a shock of, electroshock of stimulation for a while.
Completely, I couldn't spend my whole time living on a mountain.
You gotta leave to come back.
I need to leave to get away, to stimulate, and what I say is, where I live is the best place to come back to.
(claps) Andrea says that all the time about Montana.
Oh, yeah? (laughs)
She's like, "It's the best place to come back to." The woods, it's calm. You just feel, yeah... Well, so I hope more people live in the wood. That should be, really, the takeaway.
All power to the woods, definitely.
Move to the woods, be more fun. This again on home, another question, and it's... I'm not a family man, yet. I don't have kids, so I'm curious on how... This is a very selfish question, it's really for me. How do you manage work and life, when you travel so much? How do you stay in tune with the kids? How do you decide how often you leave? Just how is that like? What would you tell me if I was like, "Finn, I'm going to have kids next year." Which is not the case, but what if I was like, "Finn, I'm gonna have kids next year, you know, how should I approach this?" Should I travel more, should I travel less?"
No, I think you should involve them in travel as much as possible. I think it's really valuable to them, to take them on trips. Like H is with me, on this trip. He's gonna be exposed to stuff that he's never gonna be exposed to in school.
Is it his first time clapping?
No, he's done it once before.
He's a veteran.
He came on a mini shoot, and he did it there. I actually think we're in a really fortunate position, if you think about someone who's got a nine-to-five day job in the city. Might have to leave the house at 7:00am to run through rush hour, then back at, like, 9:00pm. See their kids on the weekend. I don't have that issue. All right, maybe I go away for a week.
Because you do leave for an extended period of time.
I do leave for extended periods of time, but I always come back with pretty crazy stories off the back of that.
Keep them entertained.
They're psyched by that. I guess I'm kind of known on Instagram, so a lot of his schoolmates know me.
Yeah, and therefore my kids--
He does, yeah. So he went to Scouts, he joined Scouts the other day, and one of the kids was just like, "Royalty in the house," (both laughing) because of my Instagram account. It feels a bit weird, but he's stoked on that.
I bet, yeah, yeah, yeah.
He's like, "He's my dad, he's my dad." But when I'm not away, I'm at home, probably, more than some with a nine-to-five day job, you know, I pick them up from--
So you feel you can make up for it, when you're there, you're 100% there.
'Cause if you're staying all day...
'Oh, 'cause I can do other, like, nice stuff. I can go and pick them up from school.
Yeah, you have your own schedule. I love that, yeah.
And I can build my edit from the shoot, I can build it around them when I'm at home, you know?
Sure, you can always have them around. It's a beautiful life.
Yeah, it's a good way of living, definitely.
Thank you, Finn.
It's a pleasure.
I almost want to be a dad.
You should, you'll love it.
Getting close, getting close.
It's the best, it's the best. The best feeling.
No, I'm getting to that. The more I hear about it, the more it sounds--
Yeah, in your position, I think you're gonna be good, man. It's gonna be fun.
The next chapter. (both laughing) Next workshop. No, I feel like we need to do a workshop about how you should run a home.
Yeah, I'd love it.
Should be the part two. Should it be the part two?
I'd love to do that. Yeah, let us know.
Some how, send us, send us in the comments below.
In the comments. (laughing)
Well, but this is not going to be on YouTube. Send us on the emails below.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I'd happily do that.
Yeah, shoot us at the end. Tell us. This is the end, I think. You've made it almost to the end of the workshop. (soft music) We'll just wrap it up.