Being born on Halloween itself and growing up in Germany’s Black Forest certainly adds to the spookiness factor surrounding Alex Binder. For All Hallow’s Eve, we asked Mr. Binder a couple of questions regarding his otherworldly work and his experience with the occult!
1. Your images almost always have a touch of the occult with them. Could you tell us how you developed this style?
I grew up in the Black Forest – a rural area that is heavily influenced by the fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers and an endless number of folk tales. Most of the stories are about evil creatures, carefully guarded secrets and witchcraft. I think that the early contact with these issues aroused my interest for all kinds of mysterious and occult things.
2. Does shooting with film help in your brand of photography?
Yes and no. On the one hand film creates a unique look and feel. There is no digital medium, which comes close to the saturated colors, the grainy structure or the psychedelic effects of expired films. Film is great to achieve unique results and a blurred, diffuse style. On the other hand I am photographic workaholic and I love to shoot hundreds of images in every photo session. So digital cameras make it easier for me to produce large quantities in a very short time. At the end of the day the ideal camera for me would be a ‘digital film camera’ that combines the best of both worlds.
3. We’ve read that some of the lenses you use in your photography are home-made. What is the story on that?
My whole body of work is a celebration of amateurish, playful and unperfected photography. The self-built lenses were only a logical consequence: I was completely tired of the ‘good’ results, which can be achieved with standard photo lenses, and so I decided to build my own lenses from old soviet cameras, prisms or optical toys.
4. Have you had your own personal encounter with the occult?
I had several encounters with animals in the last years that were quite unusual. For example I was taking some photos for my ‘Maleficium’ series when suddenly a snake appeared directly in front of me – and the Black Forest is not nearly the typical habitat for encounters with vipers.
5. What was the creepiest thing that happened to you while you were shooting?
Last year I spent several weeks in Iceland and one day I got literally attacked by a swarm of seagulls while shooting on the beach. It was like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense horror film ‘The Birds’. Luckily enough I was wearing an old camo parka with a thick insulation and so the razor-sharp beaks of the gulls couldn’t do too much harm to me.
6. What photo of yours do you deem the scariest?
I’ll just show you in pictures. Here are a few:
7. How do you celebrate Halloween?
My birthday is on Halloween and so it‘s always a two-in-one party. I love gnarly costumes and due to this wonderful coincidence I always have the permission to wear ghoulish masks on my birthday!