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Alex McClintock

CCP asks Alex McClintock the deep questions about his craft

1. What gets you out of bed every day?

Probably my caffeine addiction. But also the drive to improve – I know I’m at the beginning of the very long road to becoming a good street photographer. My images are improving but I know that if I keep plugging away, they’ll be even better in a year’s time, and a year after that.

2. Who is the photographer that has inspired you the most?

 A lot of photographers inspire me, but I really admire the approach of English street photographer Matt Stuart. I love the variety of images he takes, which range from crowded street scenes to architectural abstracts. Most of all, I appreciate his sense of humour – one day I hope I can take photos that are as funny as his.

3. What camera and lens do you like shooting with and why?

These days I usually shoot with a Fuji XT3 with a 27mm lens, which is roughly equivalent to 40mm. Mostly that’s because it’s what I’ve got and I don’t have the money for lots of gear. But I do appreciate the manual controls and the compactness of the camera, as well as the 27’s ever-so-slightly-wider-than-natural field of view. Having a smaller camera really helps when you have to lug it around all day, as well as when you’re trying not to be noticed

4. When you are on a shoot do you play music? What other essential items do you have with you for a successful session?

 I don’t listen to music or podcasts when I’m out on the street shooting because I want to be aware of what’s going on around me. My only essentials are spare batteries and cards, and recently, a flash. I use a LightPix Labs FlashQ20, which is an awesome little thing with a built-in transmitter. It’s not the world’s most powerful speedlight, but you don’t really need that on the street.

5. In the digital world how important is the print?

Your photo isn’t real until you’ve printed it! In a world where so much lives only on our hard drives and in the cloud, a print is a real object. I shoot every day and have tens of thousands of images in Lightroom, and I forgot what I’ve taken. It’s different when it’s on a wall. I confess I have almost no idea how the magic happens, but there’s nothing as satisfying as when I go into CCP, Iain gives me one of my photos and I hold in my hands.

6. B/W - Colour - Analogue - Digital.

    What are your thoughts and ideas about these 4 different photographic concepts.

Everything has its place. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing a single approach that suits you, or in dabbling across formats. There’s no one correct way to do things. I shoot in colour and black and white, but always on digital. It’s not that I don’t respect film photography. If anything, I’ve got extra respect for analogue shooters – it’s too hard for me! But who knows, maybe in the future…

7. Have you exhibited your work, and other than the print, how important was the framing process to you?

I had a pop-up exhibition in a warehouse space in Marrickville earlier this year, which was my first show. Iain did the prints, and of course they were excellent. I opted not to frame in order to keep costs down, which kinda suited the rough-and-ready vibe. It did lead to a lot of additional challenges, though. I ended up hanging the work with double sided tape and it didn’t look as slick as I’d hoped. So I hope framing will be in the budget next time.

8. What is it that defines a great image?

I have absolutely no idea. There are great images that are attention-grabbing, great images that are understated, great images that are complex and great images that are simple. A great image must be a bit like the famous definition of pornography – “I know it when I see it.” But there’s something exciting about that: there are lots of possibilities.

9.What is your favourite genre of photography and why? and also your favourite photo? 

 I’m a street photographer and I love looking at the work of other street photographers. There’s so much built into street photography – portraits, landscapes, architecture, action, politics – all brought to life by the fact that the photographer has to improvise.


Can I choose two favourite photos? One is the late Elliot Erwitt’s Dog Legs, from 1974. It’s so full of humour and personality, but it’s so simple! On the other end of the spectrum is Alex Webb’s Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, 1996, which is so complex, layered and evocative you could write a PhD on it.

10. What is the best and most enduring advice about photography that you have received? Tell us by who if you can or want to?

The best photography advice I ever received was on a workshop with Melbourne street photographer Jesse Marlow, and it was as simple as it gets. Jesse used to work as a newspaper photographer, and still hears the voice of one particular photo editor whose maxim was: “get the fucking shot”. Now, when I feel uncomfortable getting close to a subject, start to feel self-conscious or simply want to go home out of the cold, I hear Jesse in my ear, saying the same thing. Get the fucking shot.

11. When you are not taking photos, what are you doing?

I’m also a writer. Though I’ve been concentrating more on images than words in the last few years, I still do freelance travel writing assignments and I’m lucky to have a few editors who send me on trips from time to time. Otherwise, I like to cook elaborate meals, read, do yoga, ride my bike and generally get outdoors.

Alex McClintock - July 2024

An oldie but a goodie, and one I wished I lived by a bit more: ‘If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.’ – Robert Capa

Alex"s Photo Gallery

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