Alex Nail is a fantastic photographer. One whose work has been admired for a while, but he has recently revamped his website and also produced a beautiful timelapse clip that has had people in awe of what can be done with a camera. Always seemingly looking for the most untouched, wilderness landscapes – he seems to have a great knack for capturing scenes first.
Here is a link to Alex’s updated website alexnail.com and continue reading for our Q&A Session with him.
1. Give us a brief introduction to yourself.
“I’m Alex Nail, a professional landscape photographer with a specialty in wilderness and mountain imagery as well as time-lapse.”
2. How did you get into professional photography?
“That’s potentially a long story but my interest first came from seeing the word of photographer Peter Jarver in Australia. He had some beautiful tropical woodland shots and I thought I could capture something similar near my family home on the edge of Dartmoor. Years later, after running my business semi-professionally for a while, I had a number of contract offers which allowed me to leave my job in engineering to pursue my passion.”
3. What came first, your love of the outdoors or your love of outdoor photography?
“When I was younger the outdoors was a place to play sports, particularly rugby, and the appreciation for the landscape came a little later. When I picked up the camera one of the first things I wanted to do was photograph locations other people hadn’t which naturally lead me to hiking to get away from the road. It wasn’t long until I was going on hikes for fun although I always bring a camera. That said as much as I enjoy being outdoors, particularly in remote landscapes, I’m no glutton for punishment, when it rains I’m not one of those hardy folks who grin like Christmas has come early!”
4. There are some cracking photographs in your repertoire from outside the UK, do you prefer the UK mountains or mountains further afield?
“It’s very difficult to pick favourites when it comes to landscapes, particularly when they can be so different. The NW Highlands is certainly my favourite place to go in the UK, those mountains are unique on a world level and the lack of trees makes the hiking comparatively straightforward. Of the international locations I’ve been to The Drakensberg in South Africa is the area I get most excited about. The landscape is incredibly dramatic and feels almost totally untouched – In 9 days of hiking there I saw no-one.”
5. As someone who is likely out in all weather conditions, not always favourable or planned, how important is it that you equip yourself with the skills to deal with adverse conditions (ie, nav/winter skills etc.)?
“Whilst hiking can be dangerous I definitely belong to the ‘better to give it a crack than not go’ brigade. That’s not to say that being properly equipped and prepared isn’t important, but I think too many people are put off having a bit of an adventure because they feel that everything has to be in place first. As long as you aren’t taking a quantum leap in the experience necessary for your route I’d generally advise people learn to use a map and compass, let someone know where you are going and then just go for it. Going out in full winter conditions is a different altogether. Being properly equipped and experienced is much more important – a winter skills course is a great way to get started.”
6. You recently posted a collection of time-lapse clips from your time in Greenland, what prompted that move away from just still photography?
“My photography began on Dartmoor and I captured it extensively over a period of about 6 years. When time-lapse became affordable it seemed like a natural progression and ‘last hurrah’ for my Dartmoor photography. The film which I ended up producing with another photographer, Guy Richardson, was very successful and lead to work with tourism and conservation organisations. As far as the personal work goes, for me time-lapse breathes life into a landscape. I still have the same passion for photographs, but time-lapse is another great creative outlet, albeit a far more time consuming one!”
7. Do you have any plans to venture into cinematography?
“Perhaps. There isn’t too much demand for straight landscape video footage and shooting people is a slightly different creative process and skill set. That said, photographing hikers, particularly participants on my workshops is something that I increasingly enjoy and I am currently shooting a small amount video footage as part of a commercial project. I’ve also got a few exciting ideas lined up for future films, but I want to keep those under wraps for now.”
8. Can you tell us much about any upcoming projects?
“Guy and I have been planning a film of hiking in Scotland for some time now. We’ve freed up our calendars for the best part of a year and invested significantly in new equipment but so far the Scottish winter has been an absolute disaster. The one trip we have managed so far in early January was great fun, but the short days were difficult to make the most of when so much of what we wanted to shoot was on mountain summits covered in thick snow!”
9. Is there one place in the world that you would most like to photograph?
“If someone told me I had an unlimited budget for a trip then I would probably go to the Watkins Mountains in Greenland and ski tour around them (not that I have ever done that before). It’s very much an ‘in my dreams’ trip but there is something captivating about mountains bursting directly out of a vast ice sheet!”