Five Minutes With Local Photographer Alec Walker

Having won both the Mobile and Art & Culture categories in the 2012 Photography Awards presented by Lipton Ice Tea + Contiki, Alec Walker knows a thing or two about capturing beautiful, memorable images. Whether he’s equipped with an old film camera or a Huawei Ascend P1 android smartphone, the talented Queenslander enjoys snapping all sorts of images. Pedestrian had a chat with Alec to find out what it is that inspires him, as well as the stories behind his favourite photos and how to capture stunning images on a mobile phone.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do, is photography your main passion? I manage my family’s organic beef cattle property in Western Queensland. It can be a very challenging job, but provides a great sense of satisfaction and reward. As part of my job I use aircraft to muster cattle and check waters and fences etc. As a result of this, aviation has become another of my passions and I have found it to be similar to photography in the sense that you are always improving and never stop learning.

How did you first become interested in photography? My parents took my sister and I on a trip to the UK when I was 11, we spent a lot of time touring castles and looking at areas where our ancestors farmed, and took a lot of photos. I took a photo of a church tower one morning and after getting the film developed, my father said he thought it was a good shot. I learnt later that photography was a hobby of his when he was young. I have played around with cameras and photography on and off since then, but it didn’t really develop into a passion until a couple of years ago.

What kinds of images do you most enjoy taking? Talk us through your own favourite photo to date. I enjoy taking all kinds of images, although most of the shots that seem to stand out tend to be quite strong and dramatic, and are most often monochrome. In terms of content, I love taking shots of what goes on at work, various weather phenomena and animals. I enjoy travel style photography and aerial photography as well. I would say that my favourite shot to date is of my father riding a horse as we were mustering one day. I am particularly proud of this shot as I was riding a horse at the time and trying to get a decent photo of him, which he found very frustrating. He told me to “stop stuffing around with that bloody camera and do some work!”  

Tell us the story behind your winning Mobile shot. I had been teaching my girlfriend to ride at the time and she found the horse she was using to be a bit frustrating. I borrowed “Lady” off a cousin as she was known to be a very quiet, kind natured horse. After she was dropped off I took a photo to send to my sister as she was worried that we didn’t have enough horses for the upcoming muster. After some quick editing on my phone I decided I liked it. I tried to get a few more but Lady decided she’d had enough.

Alec’s winning Mobile photo:

Congrats on winning both the Art & Culture and Mobile categories. How do you approach shooting with professional gear as opposed to mobile phone shots? I don’t really use professional gear but I guess the main difference for me is that my phone is always with me and always quickly accessible. I do generally take a camera with me when I’m at work although it is generally an old film rangefinder that can be knocked around a bit, so if I see something that can’t be replicated and want to share it I use my phone. I guess when I shoot with a decent camera it is generally more premeditated and usually something I have time to prepare for (for example a storm developing, or a sunset from a particular location).

Alec’s winning Art & Culture photo: 

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us about the last photo you took. I’m not really working on anything specifically, although I am looking forward to the summer storm season. I love images of storms and have started to develop a much more distinct style when shooting them. I think my fascination comes from the fact that they are often seen as largely negative phenomena, but for graziers and farmers they are one of the most exciting occurrences that can happen. The last photo I took was actually of my girlfriends neighbours cat as it was hiding under her hedge. Pretty unremarkable photographically, but it got a laugh.

What’s your best advice for capturing a stunning shot on a mobile phone? I think really, it’s just to keep your eye out for unusual or different subjects. I’m very lucky that I can take shots of things that are very normal in my day to day work that, for many people are so different and unique that they appreciate the subject even if the photo is not technically good. I also think that phone cameras and, perhaps more importantly, phone based editing software are really under rated. As long as you’re open to taking shots of anything and not being worried about looking like a tourist wherever you go, it’s amazing what you can find.

Images supplied