Exclusive Interview: Alfie Bowen on his daily grind, inspiration, and future plans.

January 28, 2019 · 8 min read

Alfie Bowen – is a young artist demonstrating his, already phenomenal talent, in wild-life and fine-art photography. 

BeArte Gallery had a chance to talk and ask Alfie questions about his daily grind, inspiration, and future plans. So we are extremely excited to share the first and 100% exclusive interview.

BeArte Gallery: Hi Alfie, and welcome to BeArte Gallery. Could you begin by telling our visitors about yourself, what was the starting point for you as a photographer?

Alfie: I grew up with severe Anxiety and an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, this meant I was the target of a lot of bullying and mockery at school and in society as a whole. 

I have always had a passion for wildlife and began to read wildlife magazines during tutor periods at school; this ultimately resulted in me becoming the center of a splurge of bullying and mockery — this was a painful wake-up call for me, knowing that I was no longer accepted for exploring my passion, it was scary. 

During a period out of school, I began my regular visits to the wildlife park and spent many hours losing myself amongst the fascinating articles I found by trailing the web. Having exhausted all the ways of satisfying my obsession with wildlife I stumbled across my mum’s little Lumix compact camera, and set about photographing wildlife. 

That was five years ago, I’ve barely put the camera down since! Photography entered my life when I was at my lowest and gave me the focus I needed to return to my best. Bullies had convinced me that I was worthless and that I would never achieve anything, but the camera has taught me different.

I’ve spent the last five years carving a career out of my passion and I am determined to use my growing platform to raise awareness of those without a voice, both in the human and animal kingdoms.

BeArte Gallery: You are only 20, yet you devote your life to your artwork and charity work. Very few people your age are doing such things, why do you do what you do at such a young age?

Alfie: My artwork provides me with a much-needed outlet for my anxiety and past experiences. All good artists invest emotionally in their work and it is true that bad experiences result in great artwork.

As Ansel Adams once said — “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”. That couldn’t be a more accurate description of work. 

I’m often told that I can be grumpy when working in the field; I’m not grumpy, I am just emotionally invested in my work and re-living past experiences in my mind because these serve as inspiration for my work. 

The charity aspect of my work is incredibly important to me. As I’ve grown-up it has become clear that we, as tenants of this Planet, are doing a fantastic job at destroying it for future generations. We seem to have lost all love for the planet and the species that call it home, and that has to change, or we risk saying goodbye to elephants, to lions and, eventually, humans. 

I will always endeavor to give a voice to those without one and if I manage to educate just a handful of people about the challenges we face then I will be happy. It’s time we all stepped up and took responsibility. 

BeArte Gallery: Photography today is easily accessible – Why do you consider it as an art and a photographer as an artist?

Alfie: I believe every human being is an artist. Art is simply a visual representation of one’s emotions and thoughts, whether that be painting, drawing or photography. 
People often state that a photographer creates good work because of their camera. This is absolute nonsense. The camera is a tool, just like the paintbrush is a tool for the painter and the most important aspect of a camera is the person using it. 

All good artworks have the ability to grab the viewers attention and hold it. People often look at photographs rather than looking at the story within them, but if you actually invest time looking at the work in detail you will pick up on the photographer’s thoughts and feelings at the time of creating the image.

Commercially, few photographers are considered true artists and are represented by fine-art galleries. Collectors often invest in artwork that will rise in value and that is unique, that makes the challenge of creating good work considerably harder. I work hard to find a balance between creating work that is full of emotion and is also appealing to collectors around the world.

BeArte Gallery: What or who inspires your work and who has influenced your career?

Alfie: I have many idols, some are celebrities and some are simply inspiring human-beings. 

Perhaps the most obvious inspirations are Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus, both legends of the photographic world. As a photographer and as a human being there is so much to learn from both Adams and Arbus. 

I am also a keen reader and authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Hemingway and the genius that is Mark Twain all serve as major inspirations. I think having a good understanding of the current political climate is essential for any artist and I follow the global news with great interest. 

On a more personal level, I have a small but very good circle of close friends and family that inspire me on a daily basis. 

Freddie, an incredibly talented musician, has been by my side for a few years as my career has grown and is always on hand to give feedback on new work or offer any advice. 

My grandparents are perhaps my biggest fans and are always offering support both personally and professionally. 

I also have Emily, a young but very talented individual who has become a very close friend. It’s always refreshing to meet someone that understands what you do, and why you do it and possess an insatiable and infectious desire to improve. We all need someone to push us to do better.

I may have a global reputation and following, but none of this would be possible without my closest friends and family.

BeArte Gallery: Wildlife photography is a difficult genre, why did you choose this? Is there a message you want to share through your photos?

Alfie: I photograph wildlife because, frankly, I love it. If your not passionate about your job, or your subject then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. 

I try to use my work to educate people on conservation efforts, humanitarian issues and the plight of endangered wildlife.

BeArte Gallery: You have developed a unique and powerful style which includes high levels of contrast in both color and black-and-white. How/why did you develop this style?

Alfie: Having a unique style is essential to being successful in the industry. The world is filled with photographs and no one needs to see another photograph of a lion hunting an antelope, they have been seen many times before. 

I developed a style to match my desire to show the beauty, personality, and vulnerability of the world’s wildlife. The high contrast ensures that the imagery is visually arresting and that it grabs the attention of the viewer, only then can it begin to impact them emotionally. 

BeArte Gallery: What is your process for creating a new work from shoot to final print? 

Alfie: Sometimes this process takes months, and sometimes it can take just a day. 

Typically I pre-conceive images in my mind months before actually shooting them. I sketch these mental images out on paper to allow myself to evaluate the visual impact of the composition and the ensure that I don’t forget the image. 

I then research the species/subject involved and the shoot location to ensure that I have all the knowledge that I might require when working in the field. If it is a staged image featuring, for example, a dog and a person, then I source any props that are required and ensure any model release contracts are agreed. 

Once everything is in place I head out to the field in search of the actual image. This can take a considerable amount of time and I have been known to spend up to 7 hours in the field in search of a single image. 

It can be a tough and lonely job and I often leave the field empty-handed. But that is all part of the game and if it was easy then everyone would be doing it.

BeArte Gallery: What do you do to always keep up with the times? 

Alfie: Fine-art Photography is the art form of the 21st century and its popularity is exploding. I try to ensure that the subject, or message behind the image, is relevant to today’s global climate. Current themes include conservation, climate change, politics, and history. 

BeArte Gallery: From your point of view, what makes a good picture? And what can make the picture become a piece of art?

Alfie: A good photograph should be able to grab the viewers attention and hold it for a considerable amount of time. I am very tough on myself and only ever release images that are emotionally moving and visually-arresting, the world doesn’t need more mundane content. 

BeArte Gallery: Can you tell us about one of your favorite works? 

Alfie: ‘Snow White’, 2017.

I had visually preconceived this image weeks before the trip after my research had revealed a small handful of the rare White fallow deer variation called the park home.

Whilst planning the image I had conceded that finding these white deer in five hours was going to be an almost impossible task considering the park is around 2,500 acres in size and is home to over 630 deer but, I’m known for setting my photographic goals rather high and thus my target was to find these rare white specimens. I don’t like giving up.

I needed a cloudy sky because I wanted to shoot against a thicket of forest to form the black backdrop, sun-light would highlight each individual tree hence leaving me with a patchy background. After six-hours I found the perfect location and a herd of seventy-five Fallow deer, most importantly, there was a single white deer! Now it was just a waiting game; I needed her to stand in front of the desired backdrop, which she did after ten minutes!

BeArte Gallery: What are your plans for the future with regards to new works and projects? Can you give us an insight into your plans for 2019?

Alfie: In February we will be launching our work in London before showing in Miami, Dubai and at several art fairs. Keep an eye on our Instagram for further announcements — @alfiebphotos. 

Plans are in place for several large shoots in the first quarter of 2019 and we are excited to release some exciting work throughout the year. 

BeArte Gallery: Why might our buyers be interested in your work?

Alfie: Each work is a beautiful depiction of our endangered natural world and provides the opportunity to own a piece of history. My work has increased dramatically in value over the last year and continues to grow as my reputation strengthens around the world; these works offer a great opportunity for investment.

We thank Alfie, for his personal story and honest answers. We are sure, that now, our visitors will not miss the chance to check out other works by Alfie here.

The interview on behalf of BeAre Gallery / conducted by Aleksandra Lykhoshvai

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