Photographer Alexander Denault Uses Film to Shoot the Northern Lights and Landscapes

All images by Alexander Denault. Used with permission.

Here is the link for my personal website:

Photographer Alexander Denault shoots film with his Rolleiflex and enjoys going out and meeting new folks. Along the way, he obviously shoots photos. Alex applied to be featured in our upcoming analog zine, and he surely gave us some of his best images to work with. Alex’s photos have a beautiful sense of symmetry and a significantly cleaner and organic look to them than digital has ever had.

 

In his images, you’re bound to find a sense of beauty.

Here’s my pitch! I’m thrilled at the possibility of having this work reach a wider audience and I really hope you enjoy:

I first got into photography when I landed a job as a schoolteacher in London, UK. (I’m a Canadian and at the time had never traveled outside North America.) I knew throughout the year I’d come across some incredible sights that I wanted to capture with something more capable than the camera on my phone. I ended up choosing a Canon A-1 because I adored the look of some film photos a friend of mine was taking. I also loved the idea of being present in the moment as I traveled – of firing the shutter once and moving on to the next sight, rather than overanalyzing the shot through an LCD screen on the back. Shooting film was the right choice for me then and I’ve never looked back.

Over the year I ended up using the A-1 a lot, and practiced techniques like double exposures and even long exposures at night. Eventually I nabbed a 1951 Rolleiflex Automat from London’s Portobello Market that has since become my go-to machine. The Rollei has steered me more in the direction of portraiture as of late due to how well it works in that realm. Just the act of looking down into the viewfinder appears less threatening to a subject than if I were holding the camera at eye level, blocking my face. I’m more at ease, I can see the subject is more relaxed this way, and the fact that I’m essentially bowing to them before taking their photograph feels like a sign of respect. The whole process is really quite organic and it shines through in the final image.

I should also mention that taking photos of strangers scares me to death. The exhilaration to me is a sign that it’s something I need to stick with, and some of the portraits I’ve been able to capture thus far act as a great motivator to keep hitting the streets and forcing myself to interact with these interesting characters.

I’ve been mainly inspired by Saul Leiter’s brilliant use of colour negative film, Vivian Maier’s stealthy street portraits and use of a Rolleiflex, and Robert Doisneau’s portrayal of his own sense of humour through his photographs.

The project I’d be thrilled to share with your readers is an ongoing series. My girlfriend and I moved up to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory this fall to teach, as we did in London. When you look at Whitehorse on a map, it’s easy to assume that there’s not much going on in the middle of such vast wilderness, but I want people to know that just isn’t the case. I hope that this series can act as a lens to peek through, to give outsiders a glimpse into the faces and sights that make up one of Canada’s most stunning but often overlooked destinations.

After only a few months in the Yukon, I’ve been fortunate to come across:

  • Don, a throat cancer survivor who has lost his ability to speak but still maintains his wicked sense of humour via his notepad and pen.
  • The grandeur of the northern lights in the dead of winter at 4 A.M.
  • Bob Hamilton, Whitehorse’s musical patriarch, long-time performer and owner of Old Crow recording studio.
  • Pauline, a woman who has been forced into assuming all duties of a 100-acre farm since her husband’s recent passing.
  • A glacier tucked beneath a frozen waterfall on a remote mountainside.
  • And a stranger, clad in vintage blazer and tophat, who simply went by the name of Firefox.

It’s my hope that these portraits and landscapes might attract some positive attention towards the Yukon, an area I’ve quickly grown to love. These faces, despite their relative isolation, have just as many stories to tell as the rest of Canada and the world. I hope to continue to shed some natural light on the quirky charm of these Yukoners and feel that the Phoblographer would be an excellent first audience for this project.