Updated: May 10, 2020
Q: Hi Alexis, Tell us about yourself
Hi, my name is Alexis Hinkley. I am a nurse. I'm a photographer and creator living in Denver, Colorado. I Got into photography a couple years back after feeling kind of dissatisfied with my own ability to document the things that I loved in life and for me that really is everything surrounding the outdoors and my experience there.
Q: What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
I think the best piece of advice I've ever been given was something my mom said to me a long time ago. She told me to
find what you love and let it kill you
and I think that that can be taken in a couple of different ways but for me what that means is chasing my passions and really giving a hundred percent of myself all the time; even sometimes to the point of exhaustion because I know that if I'm able to do that, I will get back a hundredfold.
Q: Why did you choose photography? Why do you do what you do ?
I chose photography because I was actually in front of the camera for a good portion of my life. I was modeling kind of at a young age. I got back into it as a teenager and young adult and it just really was dissatisfying for me. I felt removed from the creative process. Even when I was doing creative design and styling shoots.
I wanted more of it to be authentically mine, and I think that by pursuing photography and even if it's me and a tripod out in the mountain somewhere, it's mine. It's wholly mine. There's a hundred percent of me put into that work and that just makes it mean so much more. It's more freedom. It's more of the ability to express myself.
And so Photography for me was really just a form of total self-expression ranging from portrait work to astro-photography, to landscape photography to photos of my cat.
It really is all the things that I love and make me happy. It's been a huge blessing being able to share that with people and help them find happiness with the most things as well.
My cat makes this whole process of being outdoors and taking photos so much more fun.
She enjoys a lot more than I do, I think sometimes and she inspires me to just kind of stay out and document them as much as possible.
Q: Can you tell us a real-life situation that inspired you in your formative years, that drove you to expressing yourself through photography?
Something that really pushed me over the edge of taking complete control of my artistic expression was a relationship that I had almost three years ago with a photographer
We started working together and eventually moved in together and it quickly spiraled into
an extremely toxic environment that absolutely destroyed me as a person. He wouldn't let me shoot with people, he restricted my artwork. I at the time was trying to get into photography and every single thing I did was wrong. My editing was wrong, my composition was wrong. He would tear everything I did down and I love and I think that there became a point where I realized my life was in danger and I got out and I stayed out and it was really difficult but in the months following that split I purchased my first camera, that was just mine. It wasn't his that I was borrowing that I was shooting on and practicing on it was mine and it was used, it had a broken screen it but it was
such a monumental moment for me because that very same day that I bought the camera
I drove out into a canyon behind Boulder, Colorado and just lost myself out there for a couple hours. I got home when I edited the photos and I realized how much I loved what I had shot and looking back now they weren't impressive but it was just the fact that I pulled the trigger and
I decided not to listen to all these negative things that I've been told
about me and my artwork for so long and ever since that day I think that things have just spiraled in such a good way with my relationship with cameras.
It’s funny to think back now on how insecure I was really it was very nerve wracking, introducing my artwork to my Instagram following and all these photographers that I respected so much and I did it anyway. I got a lot of constructive criticism, both good and bad and I grew from there but it was really this catalyst of putting myself out there and deciding not to listen to the negative things I've been told and I am all the better for it.
On the deeper level just kind of shows that your journey is not narrated by anyone other than you and when you listen to other people's restrictions on what you can do you're only hurting yourself because no one is gonna make that final call except for you.
Being a female photographer in this creative community is its own journey, separate of just being a photographer because it is a very male-dominated space. It's getting better but still very male-dominated and there are a lot of really toxic people in that environment and it's not spoken about enough.
Q: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
There's been a number of times where people have reached out and said the photos of Tuna (my cat) or photos from my travels have helped them with depression or inspire them to get outside which has consequently helped them with their depression as well and a lot of feedback surrounding mental health which have been very impactful for me because I struggle with mental health myself and
to know that the things I'm able to share with people affects them in a positive light or inspires them to get off their couch and go enjoy the world around them. That's what makes everything worth it
that makes every dollar I've spent on lenses, every traffic jam I've sat in trying to get to the mountains, every time my car has broken down in the middle a little of the Arizona desert that makes it all worth it to know that you know
This is something that is super positive for me. But also so positive for perfect strangers
Q: What role does the artist have in society?
I have a very firm belief that anyone who is blessed enough to have an audience of any kind or a platform of any kind has a responsibility whether or not they recognize it to speak on the issues facing the people around them and the issues that they believe in. You should speak up! It's something I've really tried to do and try to utilize my platforms both mine and Tuna’s to speak on uncomfortable issues, things that you don't necessarily log on Instagram to think about: politics, activism, speaking on behalf of people that may not have this platform and using my privilege as someone with a number of people who are willing to listen to pass the mic or at the very least highlight issues that they may not already be thinking about. I think that that's something that we kind of all have a responsibility to do, being a self-proclaimed feminist, being someone who tries to look at issues from an intersectional perspective. it's so important to address the things that aren't getting media attention per se, whether it's issues facing marginalized groups or mental health which has been a huge issue for me as well and domestic violence. Being a domestic at domestic violence survivor, I've tried to use my audience to speak on that and to make it a normalized thing to talk about because it happens all too often and when you're able to do that you're able to kind of open up a dialogue and have people reach out to you and say hey I'm dealing with this do you have any advice or my sister is feeling like this, what do you think would be a good move for her and that has been such a blessing to be able to create this narrative of self-improvement and compassion. Our generation is just so disconnected and so disassociated from real world issues because we see it all the time.
So it has been my mission using an audience to try and make it cool to care again
Something that I'm working towards everyday because I get worn out too. I think everyone gets worn out but there is definitely a responsibility to keep trying, keep caring and keep speaking up.
Q: What's your best piece of advice for for somebody that wants to become a photographer?
I think my best piece of advice is just to dive in. Don't listen to people's opinions on what you should or shouldn't do. Just go get a camera or download a design software, whatever your creative platform that you're trying to get into is, access it or take steps towards accessing it and just play. You don't need to do anything right or wrong per se, you just need to start creating and you'll find your own brand if you will of artwork, you'll start creating your own theme and
the more you create, the more you learn, the more you'll develop this image of what you want to pride yourself in
for your audience or what you want to produce for the world and I think that's really been my biggest takeaway from all of this. If I had listened to what everyone had told me and just stayed in front of the camera or stayed away from my first camera I never would have made it to this point.