In Conversation: Alex Maeland
What sparked your initial interest in photography? I first started taking photos when I worked at a small, contemporary fashion shop in Atlanta called Wish. This wasn't that long ago, but in Internet terms, it was a long time ago. It was before small shops had websites or "e-commerce". So, I started by working with a Blogspot website and taking photos with my mom's old camera. And that eventually led to figuring out that I enjoyed taking still life photography, which eventually led into the broader body of work that I focus on now.
How would you describe your personal style of photography? I would describe myself largely as a photojournalist. The photography that I enjoy the most is being a fly on the wall in certain situations and being behind-the-scenes, using my camera to document real things and moments. That said, on the commercial tip, I do a lot of fashion, product, and still life photography.
What brought about your personal exhibition, “FLOWER”? And why were you interested in capturing this subject? “FLOWER” developed over the course of a few years when I was splitting my time between Hong Kong and Los Angeles. In Hong Kong, I was frequently doing mini test-shoots at home, in studios, or outdoor with flowers. I've always had this fascination with florals. I love the simplicity and ubiquity of flowers, existing alongside complexity, diversity and an inherent beauty. At the same time, I had spent a few years photo-journalistically documenting the grow operations and plants in California’s weed world, where people in the industry refer to buds as “flowers”. I decided to marry the two worlds of "flowers" into a simple still life photo exhibition that combined my fascination with florals and my recent work in the industry.
How did you come to work with SPRIG Florals? And why was it a project you were interested in? I met the SPRIG team through friends. The idea for SPRIG first came up around the same time I was publishing a lot of my floral work, as well as the FLOWER show. We were based in the same city, shared a fascination with florals and had been wanting to collaborate for quite a while - it was so serendipitous.
There was also something exciting about working with extremely high quality, life-like faux flowers that would allow for a level of creative direction and beauty that might not naturally come from organic flowers. This was exciting as a photographer because I often had a vision for certain things but was not always able to access the florals I wanted.
Tell us about your approach and inspiration for this shoot. The SPRIG team and I had a simple idea for "beauty in the everyday." We decided to tackle seemingly mundane, everyday locations in and around the city as the backdrop for our SPRIG florals shoot. We interjected small stems and arrangements in seemingly disparate or otherwise unexpected locations throughout the urban landscape. The goal was to encapsulate the idea of unexpected, everyday beauty.
Was it very different working with faux during this shoot? Creatively, it was empowering to work with faux florals. We were able to style certain flowers, stems and arrangements in ways that you would rarely be able to accomplish with real flowers. SPRIG's faux flowers are so incredibly realistic that capturing lifelike beauty was effortless. Even shooting some macro shots, the detail of the faux stems were indistinguishable, yet the blooms were full - something that we were able to get incredibly creative with.
Why choose film over digital for this campaign? The idea was to champion the idea of real vs. faux in a beautiful way - what SPRIG does so well. Nowadays with things like VSCO and film emulators for digital photography, we could have gone this route, but the SPRIG team trusted the vision of elevating the visuals that extra level of tangibility by shooting on 120mm and 35mm film to give it a raw, yet real look.
What is your favorite flower? Roses. Hand down.