I first met Alex Reside at a small cafe on San Francisco’s waterfront. After a few minutes shooting the breeze, I immediately liked the guy. Smart, witty and down to earth, Alex doesn’t come off as a typical photography superstar. His humble smile and demeanor wouldn’t let on that he’s a wildly successful photographer who has graced the pages of Rolling Stone and is presently the Photo Editor at InStyle.com. “I live two separate lives as a digital creative. I am lucky enough to work with a ton of great creatives at my Photo Editor job, but my alternate life as a photographer and more specifically a music photographer allows me to look at my work in two very different ways,” he told me when I asked him how he juggles innate creativity that comes with being a photographer with the sometimes unavoidable tedium that is the daily grind of a desk job. “I learned a long time ago that photography is my art and my love, but what changed my view most when I went pro was when I started putting a price tag and a monetary expectation on my photography and my art. I was turning down projects that I wanted to do because the money wasn’t good enough, and I realized that this isn’t how I wanted it to live.
“I had a considerable amount of photo editing experience so I bounced around editing for a few big name publications but landed on InStyle because it allowed me to explore the world of fashion and also shoot music in my free time. Having the full time job is limiting at times but I take vacation days to grab an assignment or shoot for the day because that is what I love to do. I made the conscious decision to separate the work and art, because my art was more valuable to me, not because someone else put a price tag on it.”
While enjoying his drink, Alex told me how he managed to keep his attitude despite the ebb and flow of a very competitive business. “At this point in my career I try not to become the jaded photographer that complains about everything. Those types of photographers are a dime a dozen but what it comes back to is staying inspired. When I was younger I used to patrol flickr all day and get inspired, but now what inspires me most is beautiful work that doesn’t use gimmicks and filters but portrays genuine moments. Those are the images that inspire me, and keep me on my toes. I love things that are real and beautiful because of not just content but also context.”
Taking a step back, I wanted to know where it all began for Alex. Where and how did he decide to get into what he has become so successful at today. “I grew up really admiring photojournalist. I think I was one of the only high school guys that wanted a New York Times subscription. But it is that love of photojournalism and reportage that attracted me to photography, while now I am mostly known for my music photography, I still consider what I do as reportage. I try to keep things as simple and natural as possible and represent things as they occurred, even in my portraits, I try to keep them environmental and real.
“I got started in photography by working at my student newspaper in high school while photographing bands on the side as I went to concerts in Knights of Columbus Halls and restaurants throughout central Illinois. From there I went to college and worked at my student newspaper as well as photographed more bands in my free time and earned myself an internship at RollingStone.com.”
“I want to be able to experience and take my work to the next level. I would love to lend my style of photography to someone or a brand in a commercial/advertising sense. It’s just about finding the right one and work with someone that shares my vision, and though I have worked with a few companies, I’d love to do more and potentially work on a campaign.”
Alex’s Favorite Gear
G-Technology G-Drive Mobile with Thunderbolt 1TB
G-Technology G-Drive EV 1TB
Lastolite Ezybox II Square
30 GB+ of Compact Flash Cards
Sony Playstation Vita (For gaming on the go on my flights and in the hotel)
My Beats By Dre headphones
TOMS Lobomba Sunglasses
Polaroid Rechargeable Portable Batter Charger
Noam’s Advice to Emerging Photographers
“Bring your camera everywhere, and take a LOT of pictures. I always work under the philosophy of accuracy by volume. The more you shoot the better you will get, just load up on hard drives.”
“Look at photography, often times I look at editorial and commercial work that I like, find the photographer and scour their online portfolio. I love photographers that you can tell build their portfolios off of what they like and not just their work that was sold. Find inspiration, and it’s ok to envy someone else’s work. It forces you to get better.”
“Lastly, when you are pitching companies and editors for assignments or shoots, give them work to view that is relevant to their brand. You would not believe how many wildlife photographers pitch work to me at InStyle. Last I checked I was an editor at a fashion magazine, so why am I on this email list? Narrow your focus and don’t blindly email blast.”
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