Interview with Alex Noriega: What Slow Photography Means to Him

Alex Noriega uses slow photography principles to create compelling imagery. I first met Alex a few years ago while photographing in Death Valley. Since then, we've had several opportunities to shoot together, and we have adventured in some unique locations out in the landscape. His imagery is the result of authentic connections, reading the light, and celebrating the smaller moments and details in the landscape. I recently sat down with him to ask him some questions on how he utilizes the slow approach in his photography. 

Staying Slow, from Film to Digital

I have been very pleased with not only the technical quality of the digital images I’ve produced while adopting a slow photography philosophy, but with the artistic quality. I feel that the images I am creating now even surpass those that I took with my large format camera. But there is something more that comes from adopting this philosophy: there is a freedom that comes from allowing yourself as an artist to become aware of where you are, and of what that place is saying to you.

Following Fiction to the Isle of Skye

Have you ever read a fictional story that resonated with you so deeply that it inspired you to travel somewhere? A story that inspired new adventures, that made you go capture images of a place that you might never otherwise have visited? After reading “The Lewis Trilogy” by Scottish author Peter May, many years ago, I knew that I would embark on such a journey.

Split Rock Lighthouse: Perspectives on Shooting an Icon

If you love a place, why avoid it simply because others love it as well? Maybe you walk away with a shot that you think is too typical, or maybe something magical happens – but if you practice the principles of valuing the experience first and foremost, you will still have gotten something out of it. Ultimately, whether you’re at a popular location or off the beaten path, it’s all about how you approach it, and what it means to you.

A Tale of a Flood and Mud

The best part of this whole experience was slowing down and taking the time to explore this area and understand the context of it, even before the flood. Using the knowledge from being in the park many seasons, I was able to use the weather as my guide, as I pursued these exciting new outcomes in my abstract photography.

Choosing Between Two Masters

The images should not be the primary goal. It should really be about meaningful experiences, about living the life, as it were; this was a novel idea to me. Those experiences, that life, is different for every person, but the unifying truth is that for all of us it is about much more than the photos. The images are the means, not the end.

When Patience is a Virtue

Waiting with crossed fingers for the possibility that Mother Nature will deliver a show is often a good enough reason to stick around. Yet I believe there is another, maybe better reason to practice patience as a photographer, one that presents a good creative challenge. It is the potential to see and frame your subject completely differently, or even find new and unexpected subjects nearby. 

A Moment in Monument Valley

The pace of my life was moving so fast I didn’t even realize it anymore. This trip was just a microcosm of what every day had been like the past four years – trying to cram as much as possible into the time available. Soon, a moment in Monument Valley would show me that the slow approach is as beneficial for photography as it is for everyday life.

The Subway Revisited

We are all individuals, and through our images we paint a picture of our adventures. This visit to the Subway reminded me to slow to down and be inspired by nature. That's a significant component of the Slow Photography Movement. When we connect with nature, set aside the competition, and enjoy an experience – whether we've done it once or a hundred times – we walk away with more meaningful images and a richer story to tell.

Appreciating the Art of Slow Photography

As a non-photographer, I deeply respect the Slow Photography approach because it defends the integrity of the photographic process as an art form. By slowing down and opting out of point and shoot culture with its generic filters and whiplash content, there is more room for artists to celebrate the details, relish in rich context, and pursue truly excellent final products.

No Signal in the BWCAW

Photography sends me to places I otherwise wouldn’t be, at times I once would have found surprising. So maybe, it is possible that some technology, when used carefully, can make us feel more connected to the natural world; the Boundary Waters is the perfect setting to practice reaching that delicate balance.

Lessons from Yellowstone

As photographers, there are places we visit with which we feel a clear, immediate connection. Moments spent in those spaces deepen our love for nature and stir our emotions while we photograph them. When we get to visit such locations, we get excited, and it is easy to become overwhelmed. Yellowstone National Park is one place that I find very special.

Early Morning at Hot Creek

I am certainly not an early riser and usually, when I think about getting up early to catch the sunrise, my mind automatically starts creating all sorts of excuses as to why it is better not to go... Many times I have listened to those excuses, but on this occasion, I am happy I didn't!

Big Sky Country

Over the years, I have realized that photography has acted as a vehicle of sorts to get me to places like this and to experience more memorable moments than I could count. I can’t say that I would have taken the time to go there otherwise, without the carrot of a good photograph to lure me. To me, photography is not just about capturing a moment in time, it also acts as point of focus to get me up and out into the world to experience moments in wondrous places like these. 

Slow Photography Movement

I’ve decided to create a platform for those who share a passion for a slow approach, both fellow photographers and the community with which we share our work. I want to build a space that encourages a slow and engaged approach to photography; one that focuses on the quality of the photographic experience in a way that enhances the end result.