All images by Alexandra Benetel. Used with permission.
Alexandra Benetel recently was honored as a Flickr 20 under 20 recipient, or at least she was when she won the award. Now twenty one year old, she is a university student from Sydney, Australia. At the age of 15, she enrolled in a Visual Design course, which sparked her passion for photography. Alex has since been published in Russia’s Harper’s Bazaar, showcased her work in Sydney and New York and has been fortunate enough to travel, meet and collaborate with other artists. Her work captures mysterious yet dream like-words, filled with oddities that encompass aspects of reality.
Alex’s identity as a photographer is with her surreal and ethereal looking portraits–though she also shoots weddings.
All this, and she’s still got her whole life ahead of her.
Phoblographer: Tell us about how you got into photography.
Alex: In High School, when I was about 15, I enrolled into a Visual Design Course. On paper, it read as being quite creative and I wanted to pick a course that was out of my comfort zone. I knew it would be a challenge, as well as being a nice change from my more academically focussed subjects. It was in this course that I discovered pinhole photography. I was fascinated by it. My teacher later on introduced me to the photo-sharing site called Flickr. I soon found a community of young artists on Flickr, inspiring me to take interesting pictures of my own.
Phoblographer: Where do you get the inspiration for your photos? Many of them are surreal.
Alex: I like to create my own stories in my head, which often stem from my own personal experiences or the experiences of others I have met or seen in films. I do this nearly everyday, which is why you’ll often find me staring out the window of a car, bus or train. I’m also inspired by beautiful locations, music and the work of other artists.
Phoblographer: Tell us about the gear that you use and the processing that you do.
Alex: I am currently using a Nikon D600. For the majority of my work I have paired this with a 50mm f/1.4, but recently purchased both a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4. Both of these lenses are an absolute dream to use and I can’t wait to experiment with them more over my summer break.
In terms of processing my photographs, I use Photoshop CS4 and CS5. I love to experiment with adjustment layers and particularly love playing around with colours in order to achieve a dream-like aesthetic.
Phoblographer: What do you personally like shooting more: weddings or portraits.
Alex: I have only shot a couple of weddings and have really loved capturing candid moments on such a special day. I like to describe wedding portraits as being simple, yet raw. While it is a very busy and sometimes stressful experience, it is all worth it when you receive an overjoyed message from the bride and groom.
Although, I do have to say that for me, there is nothing like taking a photograph that I have either planned or spontaneously shot and spent a good few days bringing the story to life and creating something that is truly unique. I love shooting portraits that are otherworldly and the experimentation process in order to achieve this is something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of.
Phoblographer: What are your dreams and goals as a photographer?
Alex: One of my dreams pretty much already happened last week. I was chosen, alongside 19 other photographers to be a part of Flickr20under20. We exhibited our work in New York City and have gained a lot of exposure. It was an experience that I was not expecting and something I am incredibly thankful for. I had the opportunity to not only meet some of my biggest inspirations, but to share such an incredible experience with them. It was surreal.
Meeting and collaborating with other artists and just reaching that wider audience are just some of the many goals I have as a photographer.