Monday, 9 January 2012

Interview with Alexander Beer

Hello Alexander! Would you like to introduce yourself to my readers? We’d also like your measurements please, so just think of this as a casting…

Hi everyone, hope you have all had a good Christmas break and a good New Year. I am a model and photographer. I also run a production and events company plus try to balance a life after all of this!

Stats: Height 6'1", chest 40", waist 32", leg 34", shoe 10, eyes blue, hair salt n' pepper!

A life? What's that! Let’s talk about your modelling first. How did you get your start in the industry? Were you scouted or always told at school that you were pretty, and for how long have you been working as a model?

Modelling was never my long term goal in life. My parents were very strict. I was going to be a doctor….!!!!! I played rugby semi-pro for Saracens as well so you can imagine I didn't look like I look now! I was 14.5 stone, very muscular, aggressive and head strong. I was always a creative person but was conditioned not to be as the academic route was what my parents wanted me to go down. Generations are different in their view on life. My parents thought you have to work hard to make money to have a good life not necessarily do the job you enjoy. I have 11 GCSE's, 4 A-levels, a degree in chemistry and also a degree in music events management. Funny thing is I don't really use any of them now. Well, I run a production company but modelling I fell into and photography I taught myself. Ironic. Modelling wise I got spotted in Manchester by Vivienne Westwood for a show and it all went from there. That was 2002. Sorry this answer went on for ages!

It did a bit. I can see quite a bit of salt n’ pepper coming through in my hair now. Thanks for that Alex!

Now you have worked with some pretty impressive brands and publications mister, but it’s no wonder if Vivienne of all people plucked your face out of a crowd. Would you care to remind my readers of some of the places they might have spotted you so far? I swear I think you served me a drink at a bar one time?

Ha - you must have had one too many! I do run an events company but don't do the serving myself. During my modelling career I have worked for many brands all over the world including Armani, Calvin Klein, Swatch, Etro, Bally, Vivienne Westwood, DKNY, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermes (you've got me thinking now!) and for publications including GQ, Numero, Fantastic Man, Bello…sure there are more, kind of lost track over the years! I've featured in TV commercials too. Lots in Europe, but you may have seen me as the barman in the Tia Maria commercial played a lot over Christmas worldwide.

That was my clever tie-in about you serving me a drink at a bar! But you ruined it Alex, and suggested that I've had one too many. Which is a given anyway.

Talk us through an average day in the life of you? It’s a New Year and I need some motivation to get down the gym and eat sensibly… inspire us!

I have a real OCD for work which sometimes spills over to working out in the gym as well. I get up and have a cup of tea to wake up and make my eyes open! I go through emails. Retouch any images I need to do. Then I meet up with a gym mate and work out for about an hour. My routine now consists of intense circuits instead of weights. This is good for all over fitness and cardiovascular. Of course my typical day is dependent upon whether I am shooting as a model or a photographer. If I am, I do yoga in the evening. This really helps me to stretch, balance my breathing and improve posture. On days where I am not shooting, I follow my workout with a Whole Foods juice and healthy food usually consisting of fish and vegetables. Then comes castings and recalls for modelling, with meetings in-between for photography clients and editors. I'm usually home around 6pm, have dinner with my lovely wife, Ruth. Then get onto my laptop and computer for editing, working on new projects and organising events and staff. I have a really hard work ethic for myself. I love what I do and know what I want to achieve. I believe no one can promote you as good as yourself therefore I promote myself and my businesses like a machine. Sometimes, I have to be dragged away from my computer!

I bet!

What would you say is your best feature, and what is your worst? Assuming the role of casting director I would say that you have very nice hair (the salt n’ pepper works well on camera) but your face might be too long for my fictional campaign…. might be, I’m undecided.

Ha cheeky. Strong features always make the best models. Every successful model has a defining feature that really stands out. I would say my best features are my eyes. They are very blue and almost like a husky dog's eyes. I have shot with huskies a few times too. Worst…mmmm I have horrid feet. Having played rugby for years I had toes broken and nails come off. Sorry, will not go into any more detail about them, yuck!

Please don't. I hate feet.

'Very nice hair' that's a funny/strange compliment! No one really comments on my hair usually. Grey has grown at the sides and on the beard now. Distinguished I like to think!

Indeed it is. So what is a casting like? As exciting and horrible as one might imagine? And is there ever a 'couch' in the room?! GASP

Castings are funny. A mixture of awkward, fake and exciting moments. Models are all having the same conversations about whether they are working or not. Complaining about their agency, partying, girls. Kind of doesn't go deeper than that to be honest, unless you are lucky to bump into one of your good friends. As for the 'couch', I've heard rumours within our industry but I have never encountered anything like that. Occasionally you may be asked to sit on one though, or a chair!

Ha Ha. You mentioned to me in passing that your new beard is getting a very good reaction from bookers which sounds kind of funny to me but is that what you have to get used to pretty quickly in this industry, changing up your image to see if you get more bites from a new look?

Modelling is strange. The agencies and brands love the next different and unique look. Andrej Pejic got 'Male Model of the Year' by Brigitte for New York Magazine 2011. He looks just like a female model. Storm represent him in London for the mens AND the womens boards. Interesting…

The beard is huge at the minute. Lots of big brands are using guys with beards. I grew mine to see what it would be like. I have had really good responses from my agencies and clients. Plus it saves me time shaving - perfect! Obviously, it's important to be flexible with what you will do with your look for work.

You will feature in Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model in March of this year, which is all kinds of exciting. What will be your involvement with the show and what are your thoughts on the recent spate of model-centric reality shows on TV? Do you think they paint a realistic picture of the fashion industry?

There is a very unrealistic view of the fashion industry with a show like Models, Misfits and Mayhem for example. It's pure entertainment rather than reality. But then, that's obviously what the viewers want too! I watch America's and Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model. I really do like the introduction that they give models to the industry. Although I think all model programmes could discuss nutrition and exercise more for promoting a healthy lifestyle. But this is just my personal opinion. My involvement will be as a photographer for the British show. With 10 years in the industry and 3 years of that within photography with top magazines, I can provide a good take on shoots that is realistic. I believe I can help and guide the models to get them great shots and give them good advice to take away with them after the shoots. I have a lot of empathy for models and know how to get the best from them having been on both sides of the camera and of course, continuing to be.

I look forward to it! So if you had to choose, who would be your favourite male and female models working in the industry today?

The mark of a good model is longevity. There are so many that come and go. I like the timeless, classic models. I love how the older male and females are still shooting big advertising campaigns and magazines. I have many for each so very difficult to say just one.

Males: Tony Ward, Andres Velencoso, Jon Kortajarena
Females: Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Naomi Campbell

To name but a few…..

And if you had to pick one to kiss?

I only kiss my wife.

Good answer.

I fear my readers are not going to like you after reminding them of this Alexander but I couldn’t not tell them that not only are you an exceptionally good looking man BUT you also take an exceptionally good photograph. Like, what else do you do? Former Olympian?! Tightrope walker? In all seriousness though, what inspired you to pick up a camera and how much time do you dedicate at the moment to your Photography?

Ha ha thanks for the compliment. I am lucky to do what I do and I am very grateful for it. I run a production company called Beer Productions. This has many sections including events, production and artist management. I was originally supposed to go into medicine and play rugby for England. After gaining 2 degrees and playing on contract for Saracens but retiring after an injury, this was obviously not my destiny! After 7 years of modelling all over the world I got frustrated working with some photographers that I felt didn't capture the best shots or have a comfortable work ethic (I did work with some amazing ones too I might add). So instead of being one of those people that just talk about doing something, I got a camera and taught myself. My first photo shoot was filmed as part of a TV show I was in for 3 months in 2008 which gave me lots of exposure and here I am now building on that all the time. I do find it difficult to concentrate just on my photography as I do so many other things. But I do the best I can. For 2012 I will be pushing my photography hard by getting a good agency and taking a step back from the other things I do so much of by employing people to assist me. I started a personal project called 'Everyone is Someone'. I photograph homeless people all over the world where I am modelling and shooting. After getting their permission of course, then chatting to them and getting their story. I started a blogsite: My intention is to exhibit portraits from all over the world by the end of 2012. With a big percentage of the money I make going to the homeless charity CRISIS. I think it is really important to give something back. I’m sure if people were in a position to help others they would. Life certainly is very different now - for the better.

So you're also a charitable man. I need to seriously start adopting your principles!

Would you like to talk us through your approach to a shoot and what keeps you inspired and excited for a new project?

I have a really over organised, perfectionist approach to shooting from start to finish. I love being creative director as well. I create ideas for editorials in my spare time onto PDFs. I have about 12 waiting to go depending upon the magazine. I love location scouting where I take photos of places and store in a location folder. I get inspired by movies a lot. I love films and love creating cinematic photography through my editorials. Also day to day visuals from walking around can trigger off inspiration. I find the right stylist and make-up artist relevant to the editorial. Then I cast the models to find the perfect look to fit the story. Then it's about the right location - this for me is a huge part of the editorial. I am not a fan of studio shoots. I love being outside and engaging in the natural elements. The use of shadows, colour, architecture and natural light are what I love working with. I have every shot pre-planned out with the styling and have a lovely team that I work with regularly. After the shoot I tailor the retouching to fit with the feel of the story for the final finish. Then onto the next...

How would you describe your photographic style? And do you think your experience as a model is a benefit or a hindrance to you when behind the lens?

My style is definitely described as cinematic. I like to create a wow factor with each image, whereby I use the location to enhance the shot for the brief. Being a model has definitely helped me as a photographer. This perspective really helps for the right facial angles, shapes and of course interaction with models to get the best from them. I never stop learning though. I learn from every shoot I am on as a model as there is always techniques different photographers use.

Are you planning to replace the modelling with the photography at some point, or are you quite happy to continue to do everything? I could perhaps take over the modelling side of things for you... wink

I love both. My real passion is photography though. But I will continue to model if I'm still getting booked for work! When guys step into the more mature stage of modelling there is not as much competition. Therefore strangely, work has been the best it has ever been for me as a model.


Who are some of your favourite Photographers…??

Hard to say as I love so many. Mario Testino, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel and Terry Richardson. They're all so different but tell their stories in their work so beautifully. My personal favourites at the moment though, are duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and Cedric Buchet.

Some mighty fine choices! Love Buchet!

A guilty pleasure you can’t seem to quit?

Chocolate - I have a very sweet tooth.

A song that makes your heart skip a beat?

’Sweet Disposition’ - The Temper Trap

Would you like to ask Portis Wasp a question?

What is your favourite part of your job in our crazy industry?

Well I don't know if I'd really count myself as part of the industry.... yet. What I love most about running this blog is the amazing talent I come across and get to chat to on a daily basis (like yourself for example!). A couple of years ago I'd only heard of a handful of Photographers and Models (although the interest was there) and now if you're unlucky enough to be with me in the fragrance dept of a department store I can and will annoyingly name every model who appears on the packaging of a fragrance. And I have been fortunate to interview some of my favourite Photographers which is really cool. I just think of this time as a wonderful education. I know where I'd like to go next (which is being more creative myself) and my time spent working on this blog has been an invaluable source of inspiration for that.

What can we expect from you next? A little birdy mentioned a Sam Webb editorial in January? And after that?

The shoot with Sam Webb is an editorial for one issue of Essential Homme magazine and then another issue's cover. We shot this in Ibiza in late October. It really illustrates the natural beauty of the island in rock pools, sea, beach and on a boat. It was a wicked shoot; the first issue is out on 10th January 2012. The cover shot is for the third issue of this year.

Out tomorrow wasps!

I have a cool shoot coming out mid-January with another top model, Max Rogers whom I see you've interviewed. Storm along with Max decided to have his hair cut for a total transformation; Max's big hair has been his trademark look for a long while so it is a big deal. I organised an editorial around this, showing the transition from him as he was to how he is now, incorporating the actual hair cut with top hair stylist Larry King. This shoot is for Homme Style Magazine, out in the 2nd week of January.

As for 2012, my work will include editorials as a photographer and also exhibitions. As a model, who knows! Anything could happen. I'm really excited about working on Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model and of course I will keep you updated with anything and everything I'm getting up to!

Please do! Well this has been a pleasure Alex. I look forward to see you kicking those models into touch on TV in March. And I will be raising a Beer tonight (how fitting) to your modelling and photography in 2012! Year of the Beer!!!


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