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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Cameron Alexander extracted interview (not full) from RE-BEL 3

You’re originally from north England, what part and how were your early years and the beginning of your teens?

- I’m from a small town not to far from Manchester. I think my teens weren't too different from others. I mean , I feel like mine were really hard, but that’s because I had to suffer them, so mine could have been fairly easy, in comparison? They weren't all hard play, the time that i grew up was a really fun time to become a teenage I think. A lot was inspiring in the 90's , It still inspires me now, a lot with my work and my music choice, my attitude. Everything was really exciting back then, smoking, drinking, friends, sex... everything was new and it was fun to explore. It’s funny really, as, now, I don't drink alcohol, or smoke. But yeah, aside from the average teenage life dramas, growing up were fun.

You’re still a student yet are already working on commissions and on magazines, how important was it for you to get your name out there whilst still a student?

- I think a lot of people feel the panic about making a name for themselves while at university because they don't want to leave there education and then having nothing to go to. However, I think when I started university 2 years ago, my main aim was to stay focussed and to not let university affect my work. I think that university courses can drown you in things that you don't maybe really enjoy, and although they think it is helping, it distracts you from what you really want. I just wanted to stay true to myself and do the work I most love and what really matters to me, and I didn't want to get distracted. I think thats why I keep my university life and professional life completely seperate.

We’ve talked before about the power of the photographic image and when you realised the effect it had on you and how it could affect others, I know it’s kind of personal but would you like to talk about that time?

- I don't mind. I wont go into too much detail, but I don't mind talking. Mid teens I wasn't too well, I had confidence issues which affected my self esteem. This took a big punch on me and made me quite ill, with body problems. All of which I didn't really notice. I thought I looked okay and felt fine. It wasn't until I had seen a photo that my mum took of me at a party with no top on, that i noticed something wasn't right here. It just hit me and I couldn't believe It was me in the image. The power that came from an image really amazed me, and helped me to cope as well, to move forward in all situations and gain a confidence in something. I was amazed how something could have such an effect and could change a lot of things. Till today I am still amazed by how moving and powerful images can be. I have a lot of respect for images, my passion stems from that one image, and it comes with me to every shot I take... almost like a gratitude kind of thing.

You also shoot documentary films documenting the life around you could you explain a bit about your films and the subject matter of them?

- I am an avid film watcher, I spent about 300 days of the year heading to bed with a film before sleep. I have always wanted to work with moving image as well as my still work, so when my opportunity came, I jumped straight to it. I have shot two documentaries now about my family, the first being there opinions on me as i grew up and to where I am now, and the family life I have back in the north compared to the life here in London. The second being about my younger brother who just entered the army, and a look at my family' thoughts on him leaving home to train and a celebration of his last days as a "normal" teenage boy.

You personal work mainly documents your family, a strong image to me is the case study on your brother, it’s interesting and all builds up a strong story from the photo of a photo of him as a child to discarded school tie and him playing a games console excitedly, the last image is quite powerful to me as you capture the emotions of both the subjects within the picture, what was the series about and could you talk about that specific image?

- Most of my personal work follows my family or extended family, or family that I no longer have or grew up without. The series you see on my younger brother "30133307" are the stills that sit alongside the documentary I made about him leaving for the army. With him being the youngest and last of my mums 5 children to leave the family househould, it was tough for the family to accept. The title of the series is his army number. I wanted to capture the raw moments that were so important, i.e- the games console, my younger brother never left his room or the games console, he would play on it constantly, and that image for me is one of the most moving, because its what i am so used to seeing with my little brother, yet now he doesn't live there when I go back, his room is empty and the console is off. Its strange, But so beautiful to have caught that moment in the most real way I could of. The last image, this was at his leaving party where friends and fmaily came along, this was at the end of the evening when everybody had left and he had spent his house kissing and hugging everyone saying bye and stuff. My sister took a moment to herself at this table where she cried and my younger brother noticed she was upset, He went over to speak to her and give her a hug, he too got upset from words that my sister had said with him about him leaving, this particular shot was after they had finished talking and each had entered a kind of static state where they were just so out and upset. The image was taken quickly, i went over, and left as soon as I had got it, I wanted to keep the moment as raw as I could and was worried if I hesitated my entrance then It would get them prepared, I managed to get the image in its raw state, and to me, its completely beautiful.

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