On Photography and Being Human: Alex Strohl

In an era of isolation and solitude, our hearts and minds have continued to long for the experience of traveling; of new places, new people, new environments. Collectively, we found ourselves reminiscing on past adventures, in hopes of soon being able to create new ones. Some of us might have turned to photos of explorations had by others as a way to plan for our own. In this case, you might have been introduced to the work of Alex Strohl.

Alex Strohl has had influence in the realm of travel photography for quite some time. If you don’t recognize the name, you will likely recognize the images— featured by brands such as National Geographic, Forbes, Apple, and more. You may have stumbled upon Strohl’s social media, which has garnered a large following due to his stunning photos from around the world.

But what sets Strohl apart from the others? Why have we all been so mesmerized by his work?

The 30-year-old photographer, originally from France, got his start in photography enticed with capturing a moment in time and offering a personal perspective to those who view the photographs. He studied graphic design in college, but found that he became  more interested in colors and compositions than anything else, later applying it to his own vision. For Strohl, the moments of adventure, and in turn, the shooting of it, became addictive.

As for where he got the inspiration to start, it came in the form of a youthful innocence. 

“You just start playing with someone’s film camera, like your uncle’s film camera, and you think it’s the best thing ever, because you get to show your vision of things,” Strohl said. “It’s not like painting, sculpting, or music— you don’t get to create anything. You get to frame.”

He cites his childhood as the beginning of his curiosity. He was always embarking on missions in nature— not taking photographs, but connecting with the environment around him. When he did start documenting his journeys visually, he found that he was able to show his stories. From there, he would go on to use a camera to share his own experiences with the world.

A majority of his photographs have come in accordance with the inspiration he draws from new places and experiences. From Canadian lakes to Norwegian fjords, the green Highlands of Iceland to the rushing waters of Patagonian streams, Strohl sets out to capture more than what exists on the surface level.

It’s not just the picturesque qualities of his photography, however, that have reached people from all different backgrounds. It is the feeling they evoke; the man regarding the French Alps in a tranquil kind of wonder. Partners, depicted only by their shoes, keeping close company while looking out across a Montana lake. A cluster of mountains being lightly touched by hints of a rising sun. Moments that are, in all their beauty and distinctiveness, utterly human.

“What photography has done is really force me to analyze these moments more and try to deconstruct them,” Strohl said. “You can capture a landscape, but I think that the real challenge is capturing the essence of a landscape. The essence is not what you see— it’s what you feel, or smell, or hear. All of that plays into account.”

When asked of his favorite works, Strohl took a moment to reflect. 

“My favorite experience is the one I haven’t had yet,” he said. “It’s always the expectation of more, the constant craving for new things, new places, and new feelings. It’s a beautiful thing.”

His favorite place to go to, however, is his home in Whitefish, Montana— a state named, quite literally, after its evergreen peaks that form the Rockies. The scenery of palatial mountains, expanses of green valley, and towering trees makes for an idyllic setting for a nature-loving photographer. Returning home with a set of new eyes and discovering things within the landscape that he had not noticed previously places him back in the innocent discovery of his home that got him into travel photography in the first place— though he now sets off on his adventures with his friends and his partner, Andrea Dabene.

So, what sets Strohl apart from the others? Why have we all been so mesmerized by his work?

Plainly put, we see ourselves in his work. We are able to relate to Strohl as a fellow human being, and allow ourselves to be immersed in the moment he has granted us to experience with him. If we cannot relate the precious imagery to our own travels, we can easily place ourselves in the photos that embrace the very human qualities of discoveries in nature as if we, too, were there. In this, Strohl has achieved what he started out to do— enchant and include those around him with moments from his own story.