Art & Photography

Simplicity and Slowness in Alex Dozois’ Still Life & Portraiture

Montreal based photographer Alex Dozois investigates the simplicity of the human experience and the relationship we have with our surroundings, capturing and accentuating the languid stillness of everyday life. We spoke with her about her practice, her inspiration, and what’s next for her as an artist.

Describe your photographic aesthetic to us. What do you most love to shoot?

I think that intuitively, I approach photography with simplicity and slowness, which explains my love for landscapes and portraits. I almost always work with natural light. Not that I don’t like studio shoots, but there is something about going out on walks outdoors with my camera, planning my trips according to the different types of light there is in a day and taking my time all along. For me everything happens because of that approach to light. I think that my love of slowness and stillness transpires in my images. It’s a sentiment that I try to highlight by focusing on the human experience in its simplicity. 

Your work seems to be predominantly shot on film, what kind of camera do you use and why?

I mostly use 35mm and medium format film cameras because I love everything about the process of shooting on film. There’s an aesthetic and procedural feeling to it that you just can’t recreate with digital. I like that it takes time. It forces you to adopt a slower approach to photography and keep this flow when developing and printing. It also feels therapeutic when I need to slow down because a lot about our daily life feels like it’s designed to be experienced so fast. 

Walk us through how you got started in photography, what has been your favorite project thus far.

It started when my dad gave me all of his photography equipment. I was 18 then and was going to travel for the next couple of months, and I just fell in love with it. I was taking pictures of everything, trying to figure out how to work a film camera, and I liked how it made me see things differently. Now I can’t do anything or go anywhere without seeing everything like a photograph and it’s definitely made me become more appreciative of my environment. 

My favorite project so far is still ongoing. It’s a series called Stillness Study, where I’m dealing with a self-reflection on slowness (I know I talk about slowness a lot) and time consumption. It invites people to contemplation and brings up thoughts on how the stillness of time can be both soothing and disturbing. 

For now this project only exists in a virtual space because of the pandemic. 

Your work tends to straddle the line between portraiture, fine art, and documentary… who are some photographers you draw inspiration from?

There’s so many. But right now I would say that I’m particularly inspired by the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto, Rineke Dijkstra, Jerome Nadeau and Todd Hido. 

How has Montreal shaped the kinds of work you’re putting out?

Moving to Montreal is probably the reason why I’ve built up the courage to actually decide to try and make a career out of photography. I was very much inspired by the talent and visual artists present in this city. But I think that what’s fundamentally shaping my work is the fact that I grew up in a small city in Les Laurentides, where my environment was infinite forest and space. I find myself going back to those kinds of places all the time and it’s where I’m most inspired.

You shoot a lot of musicians visuals, who is your dream artist to collaborate with?

I’d love to try the experience of working with a band because the dynamic is completely different from working with an individual artist, so I’ll say Half Moon Run. Favorite Montreal Band. But I’d probably have a favorite artist for every country.

How has COVID affected your photographic practice, and how have you adapted to the ‘new normal’?

I’m not sure if I’ve adapted yet. There were times where I wouldn’t touch my camera for weeks because I felt uninspired and couldn’t deal. But then I realized I had much more time to focus on personal projects, and it helped a lot to focus on that.  

What’s on the horizon for the rest of 2021?

It’s mostly a one day at a time kind of philosophy for me right now because everything’s so unpredictable but I’m just glad I can continue doing what I love while trying to keep myself and others healthy. 

Cody is the Editor in Chief and senior contributor at liminul.

He is a photography aficionado, fashion enthusiast, avid Lana Del Rey fan, and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.

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