Cinematic photography by Alex Currie – reflections on home and freedom

20-year-old Alex Currie’s compellingly imaginative portraiture took him across the United States, to Iceland, Neverland, the surface of Mars, HBO and eventually, the interview section of Kultur!Kokoška. We ask him about inspiration, media and honesty, and invite you to see if he may have had something to do with your favorite TV show.

Untitled, August 2014

If an accurate summary of your high school endeavors requires adjectives ranging from essentially pointless to borderline humiliating, that makes you remarkably similar to most people other than Alex Currie. 20-year-old Buffalo, NY native, and rising junior at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts began his, now already impressive, photography career online, by posting a photo every day for a year. In the five years since he uploaded his first Flickr post, Alex has held a solo exhibition, embarked on a cross-country photographic journey with a rock band, shot multiple short films, and contributed images for the opening credits of season 2 of HBO’s The Leftovers, to name a few things. When asked about his artistic style and creative process, he says:

My photographic style varies and is constantly evolving but generally it revolves around storytelling… the moments in between and leading up to a traditional narrative climax can be found in a majority of my photographs.

Impact, self portrait, January 2014

Today we speak to Alex about his creative pursuits and aspirations, and discuss authenticity and dedication.

K!K: I’d like to start by asking you how you first got interested in photography, and discuss this in relation to your initial 365 project – could you tell us more about it, and how you decided to give it a try?

I completed my first 365 project during my sophomore and junior year of high school, and it was through that work that my early pictures really began to take shape. I began shooting every day in an attempt to make art from the ordinary and the everyday things in my life that I maybe wouldn’t consider significant, but still hold personal value to me. It’s been a few years since I completed that series and my style has evolved since then, and in 2017 I’m in process of photographing another 365 series. My work is a little different, I’m a little older, I live on the west coast now, and I guess I’m just figuring it all out – but doing it through the perspective of a lens, every day, is something that’s become critical to me.

K!K: In what ways would you say a change of environment (a move to a different coast) and studying film at  university has changed your perspective?

My overall perspective has definitely broadened since moving coasts and I think that reflects in my work and the subjects I choose to shoot. University has been great in expanding my interests and knowledge.

K!K: I find it really compelling that so much of your work dates from when you were a high school student, especially your short films (such as If Man Were Meant to Fly). I’m curious as to what this (presumably) painstaking process was like.

Yeah, I shot If Man Were Meant to Fly the summer after my junior year of high school over a few weeks, it was probably the largest cinematic production I’d organized at that age and I was essentially producing the entire project as well so it was certainly a learning experience. I had an incredible cast and crew helping out on long days and really giving their best which I am endlessly thankful for.

336/365: If man were meant to fly, 2014

K!K: How did your collaboration with Tenth Avenue North come to be? I’m pretty sure everyone mentions the William Miller parallel so you can just pretend I didn’t bring Cameron Crowe into this if you want to ha-ha.

Ha!! I will never resent the William Miller parallel, Almost Famous is one of my absolute favorite films and was even long before I did work in music. Tenth Ave is incredible, I’d known them for a few years and they had kept up with my work as I started to get into photography and they suggested we do a tour together, so I was busy working on that for most of the end of my senior year of high school.

Stars in the Night, 2015

K!K: Do you have a favorite photo you’ve ever taken, or a series that is particularly important to you?

I think all my photographs are important to me in different seasons of my life; when I graduated high school, I released a series of images of my friends titled Yearbook that were personal to me, and after that summer before I switched coasts I released a similar set titled One Last Summer which aimed to capture those feelings right before you leave home. I shot a series about growing up called Neverland a couple years ago, and after making a new home in Los Angeles I crafted a narrative about running away from home called The Other Side of the Rainbow. They each carry a part of me I identified myself with in different times in my life.

Untitled 2014, New York City

K!K: What was your experience shooting film like, especially for the series Lunar. Why film, and what is it that you find the most rewarding about the process?

I shoot on a variety of film and digital cameras, typically varying for aesthetic reasons based on the intent of the image. Lunar was shot during a period when I was experimenting almost exclusively with film.

Mars, Lunar 4/8 2015

We Are Not of This World, Lunar 8/8, and Genesis 7/8 2015

K!K: How important is digital post-production for your work? Some people think shooting film adds to the authenticity. Is this your experience?

I think that, if post production is done correctly, it can still feel authentic. A lot of my work goes through layers of traditional post production (color contrast, dodging etc) and I do work in composites if necessary, though I much prefer being in front of the camera than the computer so if it can be done in real life I always prefer it.

Horses (Neverland), 2015

K!K: What inspires you?

In short, everything. But my inspiration changes with the wind. What I want to photograph one day is never the same as the next, and I find myself always restless and chasing things that cross my eyes – It’s always about feeling.

K!K: If someone were, for mysterious reasons, to watch only one film from the past year, which one would you recommend to them?

For a cinema major I am (embarrassingly) behind on this year’s films, but I did get to chat with some of the Moonlight team last month after a screening and I was endlessly inspired by both their passion and the story they told so beautifully.

The Other Side of the Rainbow, 2016

K!K: Do you feel like sharing a bit about your upcoming projects or your plans and goals when it comes to photography and filmmaking?

Right now I’m shooting every day. Artistically, I’m trying to keep myself afloat and pushing myself to try and create personal art as often as I can. Commercially, I have some projects coming up next month that I’m really excited about as well.

K!K: Do you have any advice for your fellow creatives looking into either making their hobby into a profession, or simply trying to get better at what they do?

Follow your gut… and be honest. Your photographs will show it.

Children of Grace School, Ïle-à-Vache, Haiti 2014

Untitled, 2016

All images used with the permission of the author, including the featured image. To see more of Alex’s work or hang out, check out his website, Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram pages.