4 min read

Interview with Alex Garcia | GBPW Episode 108

4 min read

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A woman wearing chains and pink high-heel shoes is deported along with other illegal immigrants from Dallas, Tuesday. The plane at rear had arrived from O'Hare with almost 60 other passengers already on board, with final destination of El Paso, Texas where they will be deported to the border by bus. Chicago photojournalist Alex Garcia

Especially in photojournalism, there’s a lot of grief and it’s not pleasant to cover. No one likes to do it. It’s your job. It shows you what’s going on. It shows you the consequences of actions of other people. But then, you get to be there at the highest moments of their lives and that’s great, too.

Alex Garcia

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This week’s episode is about Alex Garcia, a photojournalist and director who has worked on over 6,000 assignments. Alex has worked for the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, and many other well-known organisations. After years of hard work, Alex decided to start his own company – Three Story Media – which focuses on still and motion projects. His photos are beautifully authentic and diverse.

We talk about:

  • The obstacles Alex has faced in the photojournalism industry
  • The inspiration behind Three Story Media, a company that Alex founded with his wife
  • Tips for photographers who want to get better at capturing emotions

& much more!

I enjoyed speaking with Alex Garcia about photojournalism, connecting with people, sustainable business strategies, and much more. We cover a lot of interesting topics in this interview, so I highly recommend listening to it if you’re interested in storytelling.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Alex Garcia.

Q: When you take photographs of people, do you let them know that you won’t be able to show them your pictures or is it something that everybody understands?

Alex Garcia: Sometimes people have a respectful understanding of it. They say, “Oh, okay,” and you can just say, “No, it looks great, you look fantastic. This is great.” They know the situation in general. You’re not trying to fool anybody.

Again, what I was saying before about having some interpersonal skills to be a photojournalist, you’re having to navigate all sorts of situations with people. Some of the best photos you’ll ever make as a photojournalist are going to be based on the access you get. The access you get is going to be based on the access you negotiate with somebody. You have to have those skills.

If somebody asks me, “Can we see the pictures?” I try to just play it off. No one wants to hear no, especially when they’re giving you their time. It’s not like I’m trying to be selfish. It’s an issue of ethics. You have to not get into a situation where the person is going to start demanding that you use one picture or another.

Q: You’re also director. What was it like to transition from shooting digitally to directing motion projects/hybrid shoots?

Alex Garcia: It’s not for everyone, I can tell you that. It taxes all of your emotional interpersonal skills and your organisational skills. Oftentimes, still photographers are asked by assigning editors to do some kind of video, like it’s an afterthought. Everybody knows that video sucks all the air out of the room. As soon as you start going with it, it just wants to take over.

When you start elevating those: video, audio, light, motion, camera controls, stabilisers, and people – and you might be dealing with actors – suddenly you’ve got a situation that can quickly escalate from what used to be a solo-person endeavour into a multi-party team of people working together on a project.

You’ve got to not only manage that, but stay ahead of everyone, provide a vision for people, and hire correctly. It’s certainly far easier to stay being a photographer or a sole video person. It’s creatively very satisfying for me to create these short films or to create some video components to projects.

There are times when it’s a lot simpler to work with my still camera and a lighting assistant or two. I would say that it’s been very creatively satisfying. You can create more emotional reactions in your viewers, especially when you pair your videos with music. Music is very powerful. Very, very powerful.

Q: Is there anything you haven’t photographed yet that you’re eager to add to your portfolio one day?

Alex Garcia: There’s this desire to photograph peace. Just the peace of life. There’s so much partisanship. There’s so much chaos. I just want to photograph doves. That’s high up on my list. I’d love to go to a really green area of Ireland and just photograph sheep.

Three Story Media
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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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