Internationally-renowned photographer Alex Lambrechts insists on excellence – so naturally he uses X-series cameras
Photographer Alex Lambrechts will turn 40 later this year, but seems to have lived more lives than most people have had hot dinners. When reading his biography for the first time you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s been a horrible error at the proofing stage, resulting in a mash-up of the life stories of seven, maybe eight individuals – but this is all Alex. He’s achieved excellence in martial arts, running his own training school at the age of 19 at the same time as setting up and managing several bars and restaurants in Sydney, before slipping into the mysterious world of personal protection and joining the private security details of several Hollywood A-listers and international businessmen. In the nineties Alex switched paths again and rose to the top as Creative Marketing Director for British American Tobacco – a modern-day Don Draper of sorts – before returning to his restaurant roots and a career behind the scenes of several high-profile eateries. He attends the Cannes Film Festival every year and runs private parties for discerning individuals – past clients have included Quentin Tarantino, Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton – and amongst all of this, he’s also found time to become an internationally-renowned photographer. He’s making the rest of us look very bad indeed.
A man of the world
Born in Uruguay and raised in Australia, Alex lived in London for the past ten years but is currently to be found in New York, where he’s quite sure that he’s found the ideal space for him at this time in his life. “This is definitely where I want to be at this stage in my career – I think I will be here for some time,” he says. “I do travel all over the world for work though and photography is great like that – you can just pick up your gear, jump on a plane and go!”
Having first picked up a camera in earnest at the end of 2009, Alex is a relative latecomer to professional photography – but as he grew up amongst his parents’ photographic printing labs he found he had years of experience to draw upon. “I was using 35mm SLR cameras from a very young age,” he explains. “I left photography for many years, until four years ago when I started shooting friends at parties I was hosting in London.” At this stage, Alex was shooting with rangefinders and larger, bulky DSLRs – but by his own admission he prefers the smaller rangefinder-styled cameras such as the Fujifilm X100S. Nowadays he shoots with various cameras, depending on the assignment’s unique requirements – but his favourite and most-often used camera is still the X-Pro1. “I love this camera,” Alex enthuses about the Fujifilm CSC.
“I try to use it first at every opportunity. I’d say I use it on every job. But it’s not only about cameras for me: the lenses are really important. If I have a big job on, I have the usual spare lenses – always prime lenses, I’m not a fan of zooms. How [the lenses] behave, what kind of unique qualities they have – this is usually what I think about before [I think about] which camera. And the X100S has the perfect lens built in,” he smiles.
A lifetime of inspiration
Lambrecht’s varied career has influenced his image-making by providing him with a wealth of references to draw upon when approaching a new commission. “Everything I have done in my life comes into play when I pick up a camera: my ability to be vigilant and observant, looking for nuances in everyday life, looking for subtext, knowing how to work with brands – it’s all of invaluable benefit,” he says. “I think it definitely gives me an edge when working in teams and especially when working with clients, as I understand their requirements on many levels.”
As you’d expect from someone with a background
in top-end corporate marketing, Alex is a keen follower of the creative fields – particularly art and fashion – and is currently experimenting with more physical forms of artistic expression. “I’m currently experimenting with painting, combined with my street and documentary photography,” he hints. “I have a couple of galleries which are eager to show and sell my work here in New York, however I haven’t released this to the public yet, so that’s as much as I can tell you about that until the launch…”
Shooting the Big Apple
New York is a city that’s hard to resist, and every corner seems to present a new photographic opportunity – so it’s no wonder that Alex is choosing to spend his time indulging his love of street photography. He’s just one of many Fujifilm-using photographers enjoying the fast-paced hunt for the “decisive moment”, but tends to keep his pure street photography for himself as a break from his day job pictures. Alex’s moody black & white street work is filled with emotion and impact, and the X100’s diminutive size yet powerful performance makes it ideally suited to this demanding type of picture-taking where travelling light is the name of the game. “I shoot street photography every single day,” he says, “especially here in New York. My street photography is a very personal project for me and I am extremely critical of my own work, and set strict standards for myself. I shoot a lot of commercial work so it’s nice to have [street photography] that I can do completely on my own terms. I follow my own rules and I don’t expect others to understand – I am definitely my own harshest critic!”
Alex’s interest in street shooting spills across into to his approach to all his image making, with his biography describing his characteristic style as both ‘raw’ and ‘street’. “I tend to add a little more subtext [to my images] than your typical fashion photographer might – I like to have a fly-on-the-wall feel to my photography whilst not being voyeuristic… trying to stay true to the subject matter,” he says. “I guess my images convey my style better than I can describe it – it’s natural for me, and I tend not to think too much about it. I want the viewer to be drawn in and gradually work out the various messages encoded both intentionally and intuitively.”
Secret of his success
Alex now works with many commercial clients who love the engaging, emotive imagery that he can create, such as the vividly striking shoot for children’s fashion line That’s Not Fair, all of which were shot on the X-Pro1. Yet when pushed for advice, it transpires that the secret to his unique photography doesn’t actually rely on Alex’s many lives-worth of experience: for those looking to try their own hand at creating portraiture like Lambrecht’s, the photographer has these simple pointers. “Spend time getting to know your subject and shoot them as they are, without imposing too much of your own experiences and preconceived notions into the image. That’s the challenge,” he says.
Images from Alex’s shoot for “That’s not fair”: