What started off as a simple road trip turned out to be one of the best projects photographer Maurice Alexander has ever done. His latest body of work entiltled Know Your Country has created a quite a buzz on social media with many people reaching out for prints of his unique work. He is also known for his candid portraits which he does mostly in rural areas.
REC: Who were the mentors that helped you shape your practice?
I grew up in an era where photography was transitioning from film to digital. My first encounter with photography would have been with Richard Spence who taught me the basics of film photography at a tender age of about 11. Those basics that I learnt, strangely enough are still being applied in my digital photography to this day. I was also always a fan of Abigail Hadeed’s and Maria Nunes’s photography.
Your latest project consists of landscapes. What spurred this project? Did the final result result come close to what you envisioned in the beginning?
This project was the most unplanned thing I had ever done in photography, one location basically motivated me to do another with the support of facebook and instagram fans I turned one road trip to the north coast into a project that I called KNOW YOUR COUNTRY which is in fact incomplete because Tobago hasn’t yet been photographed. It’s amazing when I read comments like “where is this?” That is mostly the result I am seeking, also when a viewer requests a print. So in essence I believe the project is going in a positive direction and what I envisioned is being achieved as we speak.
Where do you enjoy shooting the most?
I like to photograph people that live in rural areas and chat with them because their daily routines would differ from that of an urban resident. I tend to photograph them after deep conversations which gets the situation comfortable. I start my process and shoot until I get an expression that leads the viewer into wondering whats going on in this persons’ life, like whats their diet? How many miles does he traverse and how?, What do they do for a living?, I wonder if the house in the background is his/hers? I wonder how many peeople live there. I wonder if life in that place is more exciting than my life where I am? So it’s exciting for me to capture them, and I aim to make it just as exciting for the person viewing the image.
What’s the key to making a great landscape photograph? Is it the same as making a great photograph in general?
In my opinion timing is everything so landscape photography requires you to know your cardinal points and to be at the location at the correct time to get the mood you are trying to achieve. Focusing on the composition and making the landscape look diferent than it does in real life is a challenge and it also adds value to the image. The rough atlantic ocean can be calmed using simple and basic photography techniques.
What are you looking forward to over the next year?
For 2019 I plan to visit cuba with my family, and do a serious photo excursion. In addition I intend to to complete Tobago side of the know your country project. Of course I would love to sell some more prints. I also enjoy the company of younger less experienced photographers so I plan to entertain more of them on my road trips to share the experience with them. Alot of friends and followers keep encouraging and suggesting that I do a book, but that would be in the future as there are other things I would like to publish that have not been captured yet.
How would you describe your creative style?
My style in photography is simple and its natural. I try to get it correct on location. i am addicted to great composition and lighting.
Where do you get your your creative inspiration?
I have a natural eye for photography so I just see things and stop and capture them while I’m on the move. It’s kind of hard to describe but some things just look good through photography but may not look good to the naked eye, so seeing these things come to life in an image is sort of addictive and that is what inspires my creativity, the mere addiction to seeing an empty road come to life by simply composing it creatively and getting it at the right time of day is inspiration enough for me.
Digital or Film? Why?
FILM ANY DAY. Simply because it’s exciting to me not having the luxury of viewing your image immediately, its like waiting for a baby to be born, you don’t know what you have created until it’s developed.
What’s important to remember as an artiste in TnT?
As a young creative in Trinidad it’s important to pass on your knowledge to keep the circle rotating. There are enough opportunities for us all in this small island. Also, it’s important to remember and respect those who have paved the way for us. Richard Spence got me into this as a hobby and then as a full time career. That’s the perfect example of why we should respect the veterans and pass on what we know to the less experienced.