Tell us a little about yourself (who you are, where you are based, what you shoot, etc.)
My name is Alex Nunley and I’m a photographer living in Portland, Oregon. I am 22 years old and I just finished up my studies at Portland State University, majoring in Advertising.
I have been into photography for a little over 3 years now, but only taking it seriously for 2.
I started photography by shooting pictures of my friends’ shoes (one of my other passions is sneakers) a few years back with my sister’s Canon T3i, slowly I started turning more to portraiture and cityscape, which lead to me saving up and getting a Nikon D5300. As I got more into photography and turned more towards outdoors photography I wanted to go full frame, so I saved up and got a Canon 6D which is what I’ve been shooting since.
How did you get into landscape photography?
Growing up in Troutdale, Oregon, I was always less than 15 minutes away from the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, an hour from Mount Hood, and an hour from the coast, so nature and hiking has been a huge piece of my life for as long as I can remember.
Having a passion for being outdoors and exploring, mixed with photography is a great recipe.
Starting to shoot lakes, waterfalls, epic views, it all just started to become extremely motivating as I was continuously looking to shoot a better photo than I did on my last trip, and it encouraged me to get out and explore further places and I’m so happy it did.
If it weren’t for photography, I don’t think I would have ever seen myself driving through the night to go to Canada to wake up at 4 in the morning after 2 hours of sleep to go on a 7-mile hike to catch a sunrise, but I am extremely happy I did.
Where did you grow up? Has your childhood affected your photography at all?
Troutdale, Oregon has most definitely affected my photography. Troutdale is in the center of all of Oregon’s most amazing scenes and, I believe, lead me to having the very outdoors-inspired childhood that I had.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a form of art and a form of expression, but it means being able to take a moment of your life and have the ability to take that moment and turn it in to a tangible object that will forever bring you nostalgia from that exact moment.
What do you wish to convey with your imagery? How do you make sure your images convey this properly?
Ideally, I want to convey how I felt when I took the photo.
I don’t think it always comes out though.
Sometimes the RAW photo will capture how I felt, but then I won’t take it into post processing for a few days and it becomes hard to replicate that sense of adventure and excitement when you’re in your bedroom editing.
Typically, the photos I find to like the most are the ones I end up editing right after shooting them.
Have you had any formal training in photography?
Nope, not a single type of formal training.
My sister taught me the very high-level basics (how to change ISO) and I taught myself the rest through trial-and-error.
Occasionally I do wish I had taken the time to learn more about the tech specs of cameras, because I think it is a valuable thing to know. If you ask my friends they’ll tell you I know nothing about cameras (mostly true).
Are there any other genres of photography you practice?
All types. Portraiture is always something I keep in my back pocket. I love it and I enjoy the challenge, but the style that I have found most inspiring lately is street, as well as action and I have been challenging myself in both lately. Specifically, I think skateboard photography is an amazing piece of art, if done well.
When traveling, is there anything you take with that is not necessarily photography related?
A towel. Always bring a towel, kids.
How do you go about getting noticed?
I wish I knew the answer to this honestly. It’s something I am still trying to figure out in a business aspect of photography because this market is so saturated, especially in the region I live in.
I think the best way to get noticed is to stay persistent.
If you want to get noticed on Instagram, post every day. If you want a business to notice your work, take photos that fit their style and reach out more than once. They want to work with people who show they’re willing to work hard to get that brand’s business.
Do you feel social media has a positive or negative effect on (new) photographers? Please elaborate.
I say both.
They’re able to share their art with people around the world instantly, which is amazing, and it has never been the case in the past. Not to mention we can all be constantly inspired by work in places of the earth we never would have known existed.
However, I think Instagram trends have become too influential for photographers. We are all guilty of following the trends, like #CabinGoals, what was that all about (yes, I did it too).
Another problem is comparing ourselves to others. When you see every other page has 10x as many followers as you, whether their work is better or not, it brings you down, and we all get caught up in the numbers and engagements.
Honestly, I could rant on this forever and I wish I could go tell 19-year-old me to not care about the numbers and how many people like your post.
Yeah you want a lot of people to see your work, but it’s more motivating to shoot photos for yourself rather than everyone else, and if you do that, you’ll naturally grow because you’re shooting/posting what you believe in, not what the algorithm is going to like.
Should artists sell prints? If so, do you have any recommendations for printing? (sizes, limited vs open edition, pricing, etc.)
I think it’s totally up to the artist. Personally, I have nothing against prints: it’s a small, but nice side income and it’s something tangible you can share with anyone to bring them to a moment of your life.
In your opinion, will photography become overly populated to the point where professionals can no longer get jobs/make a living?
Photography is already an extremely oversaturated market, but there will always be the top tier photographers. They aren’t going to necessarily be the best artistically, but they are going to be the ones who know how to create and maintain their brand, network, and be able to sell themselves as the best option.
Is there any other form of art that interests you?
I admire all artists’ capability to take something bland and make it extraordinary and unique to themselves.
I find musical artists are the ones that constantly blow my mind the most, like how are they making these random sounds so appealing to my ears? Especially artists who make their album as a whole flow so smoothly, that really gets me.
But also drawing and painting. I’ve always been below average at being able to draw a solid stick figure so when I see an artist create a mural the size of a car, I find it amazing.
How do you stay unique in a world where (almost) everyone has a camera in their back pocket?
That’s a tough question. I don’t really see my individual style as unique; I shoot a lot of what other people shoot, but I also stay true to what I see as art.
I’m not going to go shoot this photo just because it’s a trend; I will shoot it because I like it.
Most of my favorite photos don’t do well on Instagram, but I post them because I like them.
The way I do see myself staying unique compared to a lot of people in this (saturated) market is that I shoot for myself and I shoot for the moment, or the experience I have while taking the photo.
If you could only take one more picture, what do you think it would be of? How would you begin to make that decision?
Mine would be on the shore of an alpine lake, surrounded by lightly snow dusted mountains, just after sunrise.
Alpine lakes are my favorite scene to shoot, sunrise is my favorite time of the day, but post-sunrise is usually when I find myself happiest shooting – usually because I am so stoked from just witnessing that sunrise wherever I am at, and the dusting of snow shows hints of autumn which is my favorite time of the year.
This photo would comprise all of my favorite scenes into one, and I know sitting there would bring me ultimate peace, leading to a great photo.