Through Their Eyes: Alexi Hobbs
The photographers featured on Through Their Eyes are (generally) off-duty, with no one to please but themselves, and it’s always interesting to see how this freedom affects their photography style. For example, a while ago we featured a series of decidedly lo-fi shots from Japan by Emily Shur, a photographer better known for her glossy celebrity portraits. On the other hand, today’s photographer, Montreal-based Alexi Hobbs, says that his personal and commercial work tends to intertwine, evidenced here by off-duty shots from a recent work trip to Arizona.
Officially in Phoenix to document the wonderful modernist architecture for enRoute magazine, Alexi continued shooting in and around the city, taking advantage of the beautiful desert light. I’ll stop now and let Alexi describe this beautiful series in his own words. Scroll down for the interview, and then visit the commissioned version at enRoute here.
Last June, I was commissioned by enRoute magazine to shoot a long-travel feature about modernist architecture in the desert city of Phoenix. I was lucky enough to be able to stay on for another week and a half and spent that time traveling and camping with my girlfriend throughout the beautiful and climactically varied state of Arizona, going as far north as Utah and as far east as New Mexico.
What was your last travel destination?
Arizona. Starting from Phoenix I drove north towards Lake Powell, then east toward Monument Valley and down to Chinle and Window Rock. Then back through Coconino National Forest and back to Phoenix via the Tonto Basin and Apache Lake.
Name a place or experience that you really loved.
I spent a year driving around Australia and the last three months were spent on the road, living out of a tent, exploring the west coast and the outback. It was magical, I miss that huge sky and the countless unpopulated beaches and wide open spaces.
How do you decide what gear to bring (bodies, lenses, flash, tripod, bags)? Do you try to pack light? What’s your minimum must-have gear?
I travel pretty light. I have a pelican case that is the exact maximum size for carry-on luggage and this is what determines how much I bring. I usually shoot using natural light so I don’t need big lights. I do bring a strobe around though, as I do use it from time to time. I usually bring a reflector. I always have my Mamiya 7 and an 80mm lens. On top of this, I’ve been building up a Mamiya RZ67 kit and on my last trip I had a 75mm Shift lens and the 110mm lens along for the ride. Finally, of course, a tripod.
Have you ever planned a series before you left, or do you just wait and see what happens?
I don’t plan a series, but I wouldn’t say I just wait and see what happens either. I try to create situations that will allow me to make interesting photos.
What do you do with your photos when you get home? Would you ever use them in your portfolio? Have you ever landed any commercial work because of your travel shots?
I shoot everything with my portfolio in mind, and by portfolio I don’t mean a commercial book, I mean photographs that I consider to be my strongest, for any purpose. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to have photo editors hire me because they liked my personal work and because they wanted photographs with the same atmosphere and substance for their publication. So whether I am on an official professional shoot, or just out there for myself, I tend to shoot in a rather similar fashion. Thus, all the commercial work I’ve had has often been directly inspired by some photos I’ve made whilst traveling.
What would be your ultimate travel photography destination?
I don’t know that there is one ultimate destination. There are amazing photographs to be made everywhere. This being said, have been itching to visit Estonia (and might as well hit up St-Petersburg whilst I’m there…)