Follow the captivating journey of Alex Waber, whose roots in cinema have blossomed into a passion for still imagery. Explore standout projects, collaborative ventures, and the creative process behind memorable photographs. From iconic influences to avant-garde inspirations, join us on a visual exploration where each frame tells a unique story.

What inspired your journey into photography, and how did you transition into this field from your previous endeavors?

I grew up with a camera in my hands. My dad was also a photographer so shortly after I could walk, I was learning to see through a lens. That said, my first real visual passion was cinema. Through highschool I made short films and ended up studying cinematography in college. After a few years of shooting ads, music videos and short films, I realized I was more attracted to the power of still photography. My background in cinematography easily lead into the commercial world, especially in fashion and portraiture where using light and environment to shape dramatic narratives can come into play. I still love cinema and every so often dabble in directing or shooting short pieces for myself or clients, but stills photography is my true love.

Can you tell us about your favourite photography project that you worked on and what made it so special to you?

One of my regular collaborators, stylist and art director Monika Wiatrowska, and I share a passion of perfume. The way smells can evoke emotions, environments and times in our lives is fascinating to both of us. So whenever we have a spare moment, we photograph our collections. It's a perfect opportunity to move slowly and develop ideas. Sometimes it's a spontaneous session with whatever is at hand at the studio, other times it's elaborate sessions of buying and building things in advance to create the scenes. It's been incredibly satisfying to work so closely with her and create our own visual language and an ability to very easily collaborate on new ideas.

Which campaign did you most enjoy working on? What made it special for you?

My favourite project was a winter lookbook campaign for Arcteryx.  Not only did we do a four day shoot in on a mountain in whistler, but we had an amazing team of stylists and assistants that basically made the whole thing a big friend hang out. Sean Coggins, a fantastic art director, came in with a clear vision, but allowed me room to play and experiment along the way. He could see what had in mind and pushed us even further.

We brought out a full studio set up to bring it all to life. We wanted an aesthetic like shooting against a white seamless in studio, but that seamless was a wall of snow. Each day below freezing, by the middle of the afternoon we were in t-shirts and shorts and by nightfall we’d be back in our parkas. It was an amazing experience full of all kinds of challenges and creativity.

Which photo are you most proud of? And can you describe the process of its creation.

One of my favourite photos is a surreal piece of floating hands pouring milk and honey between glasses around a floral arrangement. It is a collaborative piece with Monika. Our creative process is a marriage of ideas. Both of us have our notes apps full of quick thoughts, and we’re constantly sharing ideas over text, instagram or in real life. For this shot we were having coffee, discussing some visions and decided then and there to make it happen. She came with hands and flowers, and I wanted to do something with glasses and liquids, and suddenly this piece was born. On set for work, we take turns building, usually she will start by making a rough structure of what we’ll be shooting. From there I’ll add lighting and backgrounds. Then we’ll take turns adjusting as we see fit well.

The real challenge in this case was the hands. Since it was just the two of us on set that day (we wanted to keep it simple, so we did not bring models or assistants), Monika would wear the gloves and model a hand, and I would either pour or catch the liquid while hitting the shutter via the tethered laptop. We also had to add light for each hand to really make it pop and make sure there were no shadows from plants or bodies in the way. I put together the final image in photoshop from around 10 images, one for each hand, one for each liquid with the best pour/splash, and the rest to get proper depth and texture in the florals.

Are there specific photographers, artists, or designers who have had a significant influence on your work? If so, how have they inspired you?

Helmut Newton, Sally Mann and Sarah Moon are some of my favourite photographers. They all create images I can look back to again and again to discover new details and find inspiration. Their approaches to photography extend beyond the subject matter and into the medium itself, involving and implicating the viewer in the works in very powerful ways.

Outside of photography, my biggest inspiration comes from music. John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees has long been a source of motivation to create at all costs. His music is all about fun, and feels like absolute chaos and energy barely being held together as the band blasts through every idea that comes to mind. He seems to make at least one album a year, he often does the album art and has a hand in the music videos as well. And when the band perform, the passion they have for music is palpable. They come on stage as quickly as possible and play until the venue turns the lights on. It's amazing.

Locally in Vancouver, we have an amazing experimental music scene, many artists that push the boundaries of traditional and non-traditional (microwaves and angle grinders) instruments to amazing effect. Anju Singh in particular has always inspired me. She is a classically trained violinist, who uses her beautiful delicate instrument to create worlds of noise that are otherworldly. Her work has always motivated me to push beyond the regular bounds of photography. In one of my favourite performances, she had a string trio play a Bach sonata over and over again, but as they went, she started turning up the volume of contact mics all over the musicians' instruments and bodies, and suddenly the music was drowned out by the taps of the bow on wood, the squeak over the strings, the rustle of fabric and the breath of the players.

Though its not always applicable to my commercial work, it's fun to experiment and play with some of the techniques and technologies I learn along the way, and it is definitely helpful on set. All these artists motivate me to just keep exploring and trying new things. Nothing beats a good day of making art.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their journey in photography, what would it be?

Constantly be creating. Walk around with a camera or a sketch book, keep exploring new ideas and find inspiration in everything. Getting off social media and really digging is key, because you never know where your next idea will come from. And when you’re on a shoot, especially your own creatives, push the boundaries to the point of failure. If you keep playing it safe you’ll never do anything new and exciting.

Do you have any upcoming projects or goals you'd like to share or discuss?

Over the past decade I’ve been photographing the changing landscape of Vancouver, primarily focusing on the intersections of nature and development. I’ve amassed a considerable archive of photographs now, so I think it’s time to finally sort through and put together an exhibit and possibly a book.

We thank Alex for his time and insight! You can see more of his work on his Production Paradise member page and website.