Oi Polloi

Interview: Alex Hulsey

Published: Fri Jul 10 2015

Alex Hulsey is a young go-getter who takes photographs and 'does camera stuff' for all sorts of people. He makes music videos, he shoots films and he recently took some pictures of a lad walking around Bolton in a pair of Reebok trainers for our latest issue of Pica~Post.

But where is he from? What camera does he like to use? And what photo would he have tattooed on his forehead? Read on to find out…

What have you been up to today?

Enjoying this British summer heatwave, mostly.

You’re from America aren’t you? Where abouts did you grow up?

I grew up in Vermont. It’s one of those little New England states squished up against Canada. Mountains, deep winters, maple syrup…

How long have you been living in England? Is England better than America?

I’ve been based out of London for three years now. I agree with Robert Capa, “The British are a great people, they have a wonderful sense of humour and when it comes to the impossible, they are very nice to have around" But you guys are seriously lacking in proper Mexican food. 

How did you get into taking photographs?

I inherited a few cameras from my great grandfather when I was a teenager and got really into it. I’ve been collecting cameras and shooting ever since.


One of Alex's photos from the film Catch Me Daddy

What sort of cameras do you use?

I shoot a mixture of 35mm and 120 through a range of different cameras but my workhorses are the Canon AE-1P and the Pentax 645.

Do cameras matter?

Yes. You need the right camera for the shoot. IE, Range Finders are fast and light, great for street photography. You wouldn’t want a big medium format camera while trying to keep a low profile. Your camera can set the look and tone of a shoot, you want the camera that will help achieve the goal of the photos.

What makes a good photograph?

A thousand things, but above all the way it makes you feel. 

If you had to get a tattoo of any photograph across your forehead, what would you get? And you can’t say a photograph of your own forehead (or anyone else’s forehead, for that matter). 

That photo of a weasel riding a woodpecker.

Which other photographers do you like?

Josef Koudelka, Philip Lorca DiCorcia and Paul Graham.

Do you take photos as a full time occupation?

No, I work in film as well; music videos, commercials, features. I do a lot of work for other directors as well as my own film projects. Sometimes my film and photo projects overlap, like when I have taken set stills for films.

One of Alex's set stills from a film called The Goob.

How did that fishing photoshoot you did for us go? You were shooting sunrise to sunset for a few days. Were there any hiccups or anything or was it plain sailing?

We only shot during sunrise and sunset for two days. It worked out to about two hours of shooting morning and evening separated by twelve hours of waiting for the right light. I dropped my light meter in the fishing pond on day one and we locked our keys in the car while chasing the sun on the last day.

This really nice woman had let us use her back garden in exchange for some photos of her son. When she heard we locked our keys in the car she called her husband and he was able to bend the door open with a crowbar and unlock it. The door whistles a bit on the highway now but the light meter dried out and works great.

This photo might be in the new issue of Pica~Post

What do you do when you’re not taking pictures?

I travel a lot, both for work and pleasure. I surf and snowboard as much as I can. 

You do a lot of work taking still photos for films. I’ve always wondered how this works. Do you get people to strike poses on set after the filming has stopped, or are you shooting at the same time that the filmers are filming? Do you ever get in the way of the cameras?

The stills are used for press, posters, etc. so I have to deliver a range of portraits, mood, and actual actions from the film. Sometimes the sound isn’t so important during a scene and the crew don't mind me taking the occasional snap from the side-lines.

Most of the time I have to stand by and ask the actors to run through the action again for me really quickly before moving on to the next scene. Any time the cinematographer changes a lens or there is some kind of pause you can be sure to find me stealing a few shots with the actors. Half the job is getting the photos, the other half is staying out of the way and making yourself scarce on set.

Once I crouched in front of the camera on a job and the director pushed me over to save the shot. I would have done the same thing if I was him.

Another one of Alex's pictures from that Reebok shoot

You make films too. Have you got anything in the pipeline?

I should have a few music videos coming out in next couple months.

What are your three favourite films?

Today, Home Alone, Fargo and LA Confidential. Tomorrow… who knows?

Seeing as we’re a clothes website, I may as well shoehorn in a clothes question... what is the best item of clothing you’ve ever bought?

I’m a short dude and I struggle to find the right sizes in shirts. When I started buying Japanese brands it opened up my world to well-fitted clothes.

I think that’s all I’ve got at the moment. Have you got anything you’d like to add?

Thanks again Oi Polloi, it’s been a pleasure.

Keep an eye out for Pica~Post 9 in the next few days to see some of Alex's photographs printed on nice paper.

See more of Alex's photos here.