The edge of nowhere: How taking photographs led to alternative living - Friends of Friends / Freunde von Freunden (FvF)

The edge of nowhere: How taking photographs led to alternative living


On the road for almost eight months of the year, Madrid-born, French photographer Alex Strohl has made adventuring to the far-flung, scenic spots of the globe his full-time job.

“This process of taking photos has really affected the way I live,” he says, having just returned from a camping trip with his partner Andrea. “For the past few years, we have lived fairly nomadically splitting time between the west coast of North America and abroad.” Alex moved to Quebec, Canada aged 19 for university before relocating to Vancouver after graduation. There he found the vastness of the landscape and the extremity of the seasons a stimulating departure from where he grew up. “For a lot of my life I didn’t feel like I belonged,” he explains. “The place that I felt most at home was out in nature, in the forests and mountains—as a teenager, I spent a lot of time alone, scouring the woods on my dirt bike,” he adds. “I would throw a camera in my bag taking pictures as I went, so it all started very organically.”

One of Alex’s guiding principles in his landscape photography is the inclusion of water. From lakes and fjords to waterfalls and rivers, his work is characterized by the reflective, often mist-enveloped, atmospheric scenes. His aim is to capture authentic moments in hard-to-find locales—be it a lake with a dilapidated dock or a tiny island cottage that took an entire day to locate in the pouring rain. “As Europe is so densely populated it was a welcome challenge to escape and get off-the-grid whether high up in the Alps or tucked away down Norwegian fjords. We really wanted to explore the lives of the people in these places.” This desire to seek out and document the relationship between people and nature subsequently turned into his book, Alternative Living. “It was a quest to find people who felt the same way, who identified with the same things in alternative lifestyles, away from typical society,” he says.

Of all the encounters Alex had while shooting Alternative Living, his most memorable was with a man named Jórgel deep in the Austrian Alps. “The first thing I noticed was how simply Jórgel lived,” says Alex. “No running water or electricity, his life powered by a wood burning stove and a few pots. After spending a good chunk of the afternoon in his company, it seemed clear, Jórgel was one of the happiest men I had been lucky enough to meet. His basic needs were infinitely smaller than the average person and therefore required very little to be met. This allowed him time to focus on the things that drove him out of bed every day, it was the simplicity of his life that seemed to make him so content and satisfied.” The book references many people opting to make a differing lifestyle—one that is reflected in Alex’s own way of living. “For me, my life is about designing a lifestyle that fits with the things I love. A huge part of that is trying to find people with similar values and interests and, simply, connecting with them.

Thank you, Alex, for sharing your captivating photographs from the breathtaking series, Alternative Living. For more of Alex’s work, click here

Photography: Alex Strohl
Andie Cusick