interview interview advent

Interview Advent Day 13 : Noël Alvarenga

12/13/2017Jake Ryan

If you've spent any time on Instagram or Tumblr, it's likely you've seen some of Noël Alva's work. Noël takes incredible photos and you will always recognise a photo by Noël as he has such a unique style. 

When I first started sharing images on Instagram, Noël was one of the first people who's work I discovered that made me take an interest in photography, he made me grab a camera and throughout a trip to Germany I tried to recreate photos similar to his of my girlfriend. Turned out, I was never going to take photos like Noël (lesson here, always find your own style) but Noël along with a few others made me find a passion for photography I never knew I had. And I'm sure when you see his body of work, you'll feel the same. 

I recently asked Noël a few questions about his work, see what he had to say. 

Hey Noel, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello! My full name is Noël Alvarenga; however, I go by Noël Alva on Instagram (@noel.alva) and I’m a 31-year-old Los Angeles native who’s been taking photographs since the age of 15. My first camera was a Nikon Coolpix 2500 which was a 2mp point and shoot that I asked for Christmas from my step-father. Everything I know and do was self taught by going out and photo adventuring with my family, friends, and even strangers. 

Your Instagram account is one of my favourites, how long have you been taking photos?
I've now been taking photographs for more than half my lifetime. 17 years to be exact.

What equipment do you shoot with?
I shoot with a  Nikon D750 along with a 20mm 1.8 lens (which I use 98% of the time) and also a 85mm 1.8 lens.

Growing up, did you always dream of being a photographer?
Yes, actually! Feels great to have reached the dream and goal. It was a long road, but it happened with persistence and keeping at my dream regardless of what went on around me.

What does photography mean to you?
Photography for me was always a selfish thing. I photograph my life and the people I spend it with and the places we go together. I have a terrible memory so for me, it's a way to preserve my life and memories. I hope to never forget them, but when I do, it's simple for me to look at one of my images and remember the things that made me happy, sad, hopeful, as well as the music I enjoyed then and everything else that made that period of my life so.

You have such a unique style, if I see one of your photos I immediately know it is one of yours, how hard is it to stand out in the photography field? 
Why thank you so much! I believe it's a combination of how I edit my image and how my images tend to be on Instagram. I have a tendency to show no faces on my account. I love the anonymity of my images. I want anyone to be able to put themselves into the photographs. You don't have to be a beautiful model to have a beautiful image. It's about sharing a beautiful moment in time with wonderful people. I shoot everything, wedding, concerts, fashion, lifestyle, but this type of imagery is what I love to showcase onto Instagram.

What advice do you have for other creatives out there hoping to get into the business? 
Be true to you. Do it because you love it. Not because you wish to be 'instafamous'. Sometimes it happens quickly for some, but not others. For me, I never made a living off of photography until my 14th year shooting. So let that be a lesson of patience. Be. True. To. You.

You’ve travelled to some incredible places, what's been your favourite destination you’ve visited?
I've been fortunate to travel to some beautiful areas of the world with my photography. My girlfriend (@megan.costley) and I are currently in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala on a journey that will take us throughout Central and South America for the next three years. Visiting every country along the way until we make it down to Patagonia and hopefully Antartica. But that being said, my favorite place in the world is still in my home state of California. Yosemite for me is my favorite in the world. 

What is it about travelling you love so much?
The best part of traveling is the fact that you get to see how amazing this planet really is. The people, the creatures, the landscapes, the cultures, the differences from what you know and have been surrounded by. We are all connected. This world is for all of us to share and enjoy. I just hope to share a piece of it with everyone.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The quote that I live by is, 'Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure."

Sometimes things do not go your way. Sometimes you stumble and fall, but make it all apart of the dance.

As a photographer do you have any days off, or are you always looking for that next shot?
Having taken photos as long as I have, I have now developed an artistic eye at seeing the world. I see shots in everything and lines as well. But something that I have been doing a lot lately is being more present in whatever it is that I am doing and leaving my camera behind. Same with my phone. Not everything needs to be captured. Sometimes you just have to live it. So keep the camera and the phone down. Live.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
I never set actual goals for myself in what I wanted my life to be except to one day see more of the world and photograph it. Not even professionally, but just for myself. So, when I was living in Bondi Beach, Australia back in 2015 and was asked to shoot for the tourism board in Cairns, Queensland, Australia and adventure around the beauty that is the Great Barrier Reef with some amazing Australian photographers was my first actual job like that and forever will be something that I will hold as the moment I felt proud for having been able to do it without ever studying photography. I use to be ashamed that I couldn't afford to go to an art school right after high school and felt that I would never make it. But one doesn't need college to make it in life.

Finally, what are your plans for the future? 
My plans right now is just see more of the world. Beginning with this adventure that will take me through all of Central and South America. My family is from El Salvador so to be able to immerse myself more into my culture with my girlfriend will definitely be a moment I will soak in. I will be sure to live fully every day. Take nothing for granted. And let my art grow from it all.

Thanks Noël for taking the time 
to speak to TravelFoodFilm

Make sure you follow Noël on Instagram HERE
See more of his work HERE
Grab his presets HERE

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