15 Minutes of (Student) Fame: Ryan Alexander

Check out this shutterbug. Click to read print version.

By Iqra Shahid & Tyler Doupe 

During every blink we miss something, something small. A glance between friends. A total stillness on the water. A stray beam of light passing through a barn roof. Just as quickly, Ryan Alexander captures the ephemeral moments we ignore or miss and reveals the splendour of their existence. He’s constantly looking for those glimmers of standout beauty that we all see here and there, but we don’t always encapsulate the moment. We can’t catch the visual epiphany.

This multi-media shutterbug tends to.

Alexander, 18, is currently enrolled in his second year of media arts and displays an uncommon depth of focus when working with his chosen media. Even less common still, is his devotion to the warmth and sincerity of analogue cameras and film. In an increasingly digital world, Alexander, with a fridge stuffed with more film than food, takes every opportunity to reject the cold, lifeless, hyper-detail of modern film, and revel in the grainy reality of analog stock. It is perhaps a little hard to understand until you’ve seen a 16mm skateboard film projected on a bedroom wall – a projected memory, all the nostalgia and emotion intact.

“He’s constantly looking for those glimmers of standout beauty that we all see here and there.”

Though he is studying film, Alexander recently began experimenting with photography, an effort that is equal parts hobby and serious skill-building. “Photography wasn’t available at [my] high school, most of it was self-taught – trial and error. Filmmaking is more career wise and more serious.” And by perusing his collection of films, we would have to agree with him. The kid’s got talent.

Although only recently has Alexander been heavily involved in photography, he started shooting with a video camera in Grade 7. More of a pastime then or what some might call a hobby. It wasn’t until Grade 10, though, that he started to find his niche with the camera. A niche that he has been carving out ever since.

Alexander insists that all of the aspects of video and photography are related, each one building on and enriching another. Although the amount of time Alexander devotes to his school assignments has pushed photography into the few spare hours he may have on any given day, he is happy to spend them looking through a lens or piecing his work together in the darkroom. It’s not uncommon for Alexander to be at school for periods of eight to 12 hours working away on projects. But like I said, he’s cool with that.

A chunk of Alexander’s work was recently on display at the John B. Aird Gallery for its first annual photography exhibition back in September. But not to fret as you can view a wide swath of his work online at ryanalexandermedia.com, one of the few digital concessions he has made. His site shows a world of underground amateur film. From antique-looking snowboard films to avante-garde and often-comical skateboard films, Alexander is doing something that a lot don’t even attempt. He’s doing something fresh, under his own guidelines.

After graduating from Sheridan, Alexander plans on moving into filmmaking as a career. To prep, he spent the summer working in Cambridge at Blue Lizard Productions, a company known for online video production.

“I like to work with people when it comes to filmmaking. But, of course, it’s not like I am working at CBC,” Alexander said with his perpetual chuckle. Maybe not, but for someone who dived into filmmaking and photography, then taught himself to swim, well, that might not be too far off.

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    • Ian Daly
    • May 10th, 2010

    great article man! ryan’s photography shown here is all long exposure… blink of an eye! great way to put it man… like all those blinks that take 5 minutes! that owns. ryan clearly hates modern film stocks, also… you know, those stock on which his displayed photographs were all captured! great stuff man!

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