Influenced by his environment and surroundings, Lex Gordon’s self portraiture/portraiture caught our eye. Lex is based in Joliet, Illinois, and studied studio art with a graphic arts minor. He photographs with a keen eye for art and creates his body of work almost as if it were paintings. You’d be surprised Lex only just recently acquired his own camera equipment - he’s a believer in the photographer in you, not the gear.
1. What is life to you? What it should be?
For me life is everything interacting with each other in every moment. Life does not stand still, lifeis full of unknown and unexpected circumstances that all play a role in how everything shapes who we become. I’m also a follower of Christ and a lot of my inspiration comes from Him. When I am out in the world on a foggy day and seeing that vast wonders that the surrounding nature provides, I can feel his grace and creation.
2. Where did you grow up and how did that play a part in your photography?
I grew up in Joliet, Illinois and it has helped me become more creative in my work. You cannot walk outside and shoot in Joliet, if it’s not gas stations as far as the eye can see, it’s “almost” nature. What I mean by that is that you cannot find a patch of nature without something off in the distance like a Walgreens or a CVS. This is not anything new, it is common throughout the Midwest. Then when you find actual nature it’s usually over used and easily identifiable. What it has forced me to do is become creative in my own backyard so to speak, or in most cases my bathroom or staircase. I am not blessed with the vast vistas of the west coast or the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. My town has given me an insatiable amount of wanderlust and a kick in the pants to be way more creative.
3. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
I am an artist first and foremost, I do not look at photography as profession but more as a means to create and I create constantly. Although photography is an extremely lucrative form of art, I look at the medium as a way of creating emotions and feelings between myself and my viewer that are otherwise intangible. If I can receive an income for capturing these moments in time, then I am doing something right. I currently work part time at a car dealership and I take photos of new and used cars for the website. I also do freelance work, like weddings and such. I have a Bachelor’s Degree from North Central College where I majored in studio art with a graphic arts minor. However I did not do much photography outside of two terms of film photography. So I would not say that I went to school for photography but for art, which is why I approach photography more artistically than technically.
4. What is your favourite non-photography pastime?
I. Love. Coffee. I roast and brew my own at home, and I get weird looks from friends that do not share my obsession for the perfect cup of Joe. I did convert one of my friends to black coffee when I made some for her. I also thoroughly enjoy adventuring and going to new places as often as possible. As soon as I can, I want to book a flight to the west coast and see what creative opportunities await. I suppose I really enjoy working with my hands and doing things that require a learning curve…make sense?
5. What movie did you love recently?
At the risk of sounding incredibly lame, I loved the latest Star Wars film. It was so fresh and fun to watch, with little odes to the original trilogy. I am not sure if hardcore Star Wars fans like the new film but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot wait for episodes 8 and 9.
6. Are you working on any projects at the moment you can tell us about?
I am not currently working on any specific projects, but I’m pushing myself further. My passion is capturing mood and invoking a reaction. My camera is the medium to carry that out. I am constantly working on mini mood series that, when viewed together, can convey a story or be viewed independently with equal engagement. Another key component to my work is space. I will almost always stick with one space for every photo in the series and change the pose, furthering the story element. I usually shoot 2-4 frames per shoot and post maybe 1 or 2 of them. Apart from DSLR photography I have recently become very passionate about mobile photography and utilizing Instagram. As of now I am doing a continuing “daily hands” project where I try to capture artistic yet simplistic photos of hands doing everyday tasks. I’m also exploring ways to make my photos look more like underexposed film to capture more mood in my work by experimenting with various Photoshop actions.
7. Do you shoot with your left or right eye
I shoot a large amount of self-portraits so I use my live view almost exclusively in order to dial in the lighting conditions and composition. But out of the viewfinder I use my right eye.
8. Are there any unseen experimental images in your attic you’d like to show us now?
I honestly am terrible at keeping things to myself, I love to post everything as soon as I finish it as I do not feel a sense of reserve when it comes to my photos. As far as my personal work goes I tend to post as soon as possible. I treat my work like a painting and post each one as a new work. There are a few new photos that I created recently that I have forced myself not to post until now (unless you follow me on Instagram…shhhhh). When speaking of experimental, that is a majority of my work, most recently I have been playing around with double and multiple exposure and getting as funky as I can while maintaining a sense of mood and emotion that I strive to capture above all else.
9. Who do you respect - in photography or elsewhere?
With regards to photography I highly respect those who continue to create for the sake of doing what makes them happy. If you were to look through my portfolio you will see vast differences between my personal and client based work. I have a huge amount of respect and awe towards those who have put their foot down and said “this is my style, take it or leave it.” Now this is nothing against those who choose to distinguish personal and client work, but for me I want to be in a position where the two are one and the same. One person I respect specifically is Cory Crawford. I’m certain that without stumbling upon his Instagram account almost two years ago I would not be where I am today in terms of creativity. He was the first photographer I followed who just traveled all over and captured everything with a naturalistic and subtle integrity. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to him here and there over Facebook and now he follows me on Instagram which is a huge deal for me. Outside of photography I respect the drive and work ethic of my father because it is something I do not have and I do not believe I will ever have. I cannot stay in the same place for a long period of time.
10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I want to be comfortably working as my own boss or as a lead photographer in a respected firm. I want to be doing something I love for the rest of my life and the end goal is to be able to provide an income for a potential family in the process. I desire to be in a position where I am not worried of my style is too much for clients but have the confidence that there are those who seek my ability to tell their story. As simple as it may seem I would just like to be so much more knowledgeable, both photography or otherwise. I want to be able to guide others and engage on an intellectual level with those seeking the same goals as me. Ultimately I want to be a leader of my own path, but not without a constant thirst for knowledge.
Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
I believe the only thing that gear does for me is how much room I have to edit with. But personally I follow a belief that I can shoot on anything, the camera does not make the photographer. I have not even had my own gear up until this past May (2015). Prior to that I only really dabbled in photography because I would just borrow cameras from whoever would let me. When I first started messing with digital photography I used a Nikon D50 and then a Nikon D80, both of which I did not own. The d50 was only 6 megapixels and the d80 wasn’t much better at 10. However I did not let that keep me from experimenting and learning how to work with the camera. The images below are a depiction of an image shot with the nikon (left) and canon (right). One thing you will notice is that although the pixel count is significantly lower on the nikon image, the feeling between both images is equally shared. My canon allows me to makes larger crops and changes to my images due to the pixel count but I’ve never let that hold me back from using a camera to create what I’ve envisioned. I currently use a Canon 5D Mark III and a 24-70L exclusively. I will from time to time borrow various lenses from people. One lens I have used a lot in my work is the 85 1.8.