I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an interview series on my blog for the past few months, but something has always come up. This year, I made it my mission to get one going as I love reading about people’s lives and how they got to where they are.
I originally was going to do it based on bloggers in the industry, but I decided to interview people who I think are inspirational, not only in the online world but in their everyday life.
My first guest is Alexander Ward, photographer and Associate Director based here in Manchester. If you’re from the city, you will have no doubt heard of him, but today I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the man behind the lens.
I hope you enjoy, and if there is anyone you would like to see in this series, please just let me know in the comments.
1. Hi Alex, thanks for joining us as the first guest on the ‘Be Inspired By’ series. Let’s start by getting to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Alex, I’m a Photographer in Manchester who first picked up a professional camera in 2016 and have been striving to move my photography forward ever since. I’m originally from Essex and moved to Manchester a few years ago after falling in love with the city and the people in it; I’ve always loved how Manchester has this unique melding of history and pace, it has this special way of humblingly celebrating its history whilst having this ethic of focusing on the future. I’m dead passionate about doing what you love and representing people in the right way.
2. You’re definitely an up and coming photographer on the Manchester blogging scene – how did you get into it?
Thanks! When I was 17 I started my own creative agency and ran it for just under 11 years, closing it in 2012 when the recession really kicked in. Since then it took me a while to find a creative outlet and, having always had an interest in film and photography, my other half suggested I pick up a cheap camera and give it a whirl. I instantly fell in love with it, I grew this immediate feeling of having a shot in your mind and experimenting until you got it. I started out by putting ads in groups like Reddit to shoot people and build my experience and it wasn’t long before I discovered how passionate I felt about photography and was building a decent portfolio.
3. What tips do you have for people who are just starting out with photography?
Firstly, above all else, do what you love. It’s a creative gig and every shot you take has a piece of you in it – if you’re not feeling it, if it’s not what you really want to be shooting, you’ll be able to tell. People often find a barrier to photography is the cost of the equipment but it needn’t be – get a basic camera and start shooting, just explore, find what you love and don’t be afraid to be creative and try new things. Most importantly, be collaborative and be kind – if you’re joining the game for Instagram likes or to feel better than someone, it’s time to find something else.
4. Have you seen your personal photography change over the years? If so, how?
In every way, but somehow, not at all. The reason I do so much portrait photography is because I’m utterly fascinated by people; indeed, I’ve always had this knack of being able to understand what someone’s about when I meet them – to me, photography is about a process of bringing that person to the surface and representing them – to show the world what I see. My work has changed in that it’s developed in style and approach, technical know-how and creativity, but ultimately that core need is unchanged. I want to showcase people, and my love of that continues.
5. How do you stay motivated as well as having a full-time job?
I’d be lying if I said I never felt pangs of worry over my work – I think that’s a natural process of anyone creating something and developing themselves – but really, I’m driven by people. I love discovering what someone’s about, what’s made them who they are, what makes them tick – this drives me on, showing the wider world who these incredible people I meet are all about. I would give a tip here for anyone starting out either in photography or anything creative – don’t compare yourself to others; take inspiration, but remember how utterly subjective art is and allow yourself to develop in our own way on your own path.
6. How would you like your photography to progress over the next 12 months?
I’d be genuinely thankful for another year like 2017 – I’ve met so many incredible people, worked on some amazing projects, had an amazing exhibition and been booked up for months. I’d love to spend the next year growing the people I work with and honing my approach – I’d definitely like to produce further creative pieces, those shoots where you plan and bring together a raft of things of this single creative vision. Also, I have some news coming soon about something I’m doing this year, watch this space 😉
7. Is there anyone you would love to photograph (famous or not)?
Hmm, good question! I’d really love to shoot (and interview) someone who’s been on the frontline of helping people; from those people in our community who devote time to helping others to those abroad who are part of organisations tackling humanitarian issues. I think I’d like to try to unravel and convey the complexity and truth of what they deal with. I think that makes sense.
8. What is your end goal with your photography?
I’d like to do more of what I love and I see it growing in my life, but I also have a great day job working with awesome people. I see my ‘end goal’ as much grander than the next five years – I want to get to a point where my work has real value, where I help people tell their story – whatever that is.
Thank you so much to Alex for being the first interviewee.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about his work, and how he sees it progressing in the next few years. Alex is such a talented guy, and you can find his website here and Instagram here – go give him a follow. I’ve also included some of his favourite shots below over the past few months.