One half of the innovative duo behind rsn-8, Joe Alexander is an enigma with a camera. Whether he’s shooting photographs or creating videos, he’s always on the lookout for ways to share others’ stories in unique and offbeat ways.
Creativity Undefined spoke with Joe about creativity in the time of COVID, his dream project, and his hopes for his future as a creative photographer and film-maker.
How did your creative journey begin?
As a kid, I always had a thing to capture moments on camera but my first steps into professional work came from me buying a Professional Camera for a trip and just falling deep into the Rabbit hole of Photography. There was something about people and portraits that really drew me in and all I wanted to do was to tell stories. That hasn’t stopped!
How has your style evolved over the years?
Although I started off my creative journey as a photographer, I felt the need to get very elaborate with the way my stories were being received. It was a scary leap into the world of film-making that actually fuelled my passion into a profession. My evolution as a creative has seen me take up different challenges as photographer [and] film-maker; today I stand before you as a story-teller. The one thing I never want to stop doing is evolving. I honestly don’t know what I will call myself in a few years!
What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve faced to date in your creative or professional journey? How did you resolve it? What did you learn from it?
Every challenge is an opportunity. As a [creator], there’s nothing worse than losing creative control over a project, especially if it’s with a client. In these situations, the client is always right! As a human first, I have to put my ego aside and work on the client’s directives but simultaneously I also try and bring my vision to life in the same project. [At the] end of the day, we get to compare both versions and choose the best one. A lil bit of extra work but it helps both sides come to a fair compromise.
What are your favourite subjects to shoot? Why?
Untold stories for sure, mainly because it hasn’t been told before. Stories have the power to fuel passion and birth movements. You never know how a story can encourage someone to start their own personal journey!
What’s your preferred shooting technique or style? Why?
I prefer going handheld. There’s something unique in the way the footage looks. Not saying using a gimbal or a tripod is bad, but my preference has always been handheld first!
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration for creating stories from every conversation I jump in[to]. As for creative inspirations, I am a huge advocate of experimenting. There are tons of times my experiments fail, but sometimes in the midst of failure you never know the greatness you may stumble upon.
Has your creativity and style changed since the pandemic began? How? Why?
Being someone who loves conversation[s], meeting people over coffee, it definitely put[s] a huge full stop to our documentary projects. [A] majority of our paid work revolved around corporate story-telling and trainings, which were all put on hold so we had to reinvent ourselves to make ends meet. We took our knowledge in creating training videos and helped personal trainers in the Fitness and Education industry to pivot all their business to online platforms.
The second revelation came to us in the form of creative product and food videos. We were able to create a few home-based spec ads, which got us work [in] creating similar short videos. I was able to turn my love for coffee into something that got us paid regularly. Oh, and I also get free coffee now. Lol.
What change or trend have you observed emerging as a result of the pandemic, whether photography, videography, creativity-wise or a combination? What do you think about it/them?
With everyone stuck at home, the pandemic birthed a lot of new content creators. The amount of content that was being made was crazy. It also increased the number of people watching content online. I truly believe after the immense amount of content [that] has been consumed, people are now become more receptive to more authentic content. Authenticity is being valued even more than the flashiest videos. This is a good thing, which means us content creators need to step up our game to deliver content in its most authentic form while remaining creative!
Do you think it/they will last once the pandemic is over? Why?
Most people are more self-aware now, and are able to discern between what seems too good to be true and what is authentic. It may not last forever, but it’s going to be a while till we put down our email addresses for the next best offer. If you know what I mean!
What’s your dream project? Why?
To be able to create a documentary about unknown creatives from all over the world – especially places that are never heard of.
Who is your dream client? Why?
The one who allows us full creative control over a project. Lol.
Since we’ve been doing a lot of work in the fitness niche for a while, we have some crazy creative ideas [that] we would love to incorporate with Nike and [also have] some interesting documentary series ideas for Under Armour planned. Hopefully we get to pitch it to them soon!
What equipment do you prefer to use? Why?
This is a tough question. It has to be either my Camera or my Computer. I never leave home with out them. Oh wait, what it could be my SSD, cuz all my work is stored on it. Ugh. I told you it was a tough one. OK, Camera it is!
Professionally, all my owned camera gear is from Sony, but I do have a sweet spot for footage from the Alexa.
Do you have a project/photograph/video that you consider to be your favourite? What is it/are they? Why?
Between all the series that have been completed, I would say Dancers in the City has to be our favourite. Mainly because it ignited the fire in us to get into documentary work. A close second would be Never Settle, where we told the stories of 30 women in 30 days to motivate all women to start their fitness journey.
Who are your artistic/photography/videography heroes?
Hiro Murai for Visual Hijacking, Fincher for his story-telling and John Williams for Music.
What’s a major goal that you hope to achieve in the next few years?
Have at least one documentary played at a major film festival.