Alec Castillo is the bassist of self-proclaimed “boner rock” band The Nude Party. He’s also a photographer dedicated to depicting the world and lifestyle he inhabits. Whether capturing antics on tour or portraying the most intimate of moments amongst friends, this dude’s eye has our attention. And he’s only just begun. “I use photography to tell stories that can hopefully live on,” he says. Good thing we like stories. –Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUTH: Do you remember your first photo you took?
ALEC CASTILLO: I could be wrong, but it was 2002 and my mom gave me a disposable camera to take with me to this skate camp I went to over the summer called Hang Loose. Tony Hawk had a skate demo tour that made a stop at that Hang Loose and I saved it for that day. I was seven years old and worshipped all those dudes that came to skate.
Mike Vallely was acid dropping what seemed like 15 ft into a quarter pipe. I remember him breaking his face on the concrete and trying it over and over, and thinking that was super gnarly. I used the entire roll on that.
Describe your approach to photography?
I like shooting people, and I’m fascinated with human interaction. Most of what I’ve made are personal projects revolving around my every day life and the people that are involved. I use photography as a vehicle for exploration of relationships, intimacy and self identity. I’ve always been an awful storyteller verbally, and quite embarrassed of it actually. I use photography to tell stories that can hopefully live on. Having my photos be in a sequenced, tangible form is important to the end outcome of my work, whether it be displayed in a gallery or a book. Tangibility gives access to a longer life. I hope to have my first book out in the next few years.
Click below to view the entire gallery:
Were you classically trained at all?
I taught myself how to use a camera growing up shooting my friends and skating. I didn’t really have any classical training until I got to college where I learned how to develop film and was introduced to a lot of photographers that resonated with me. Over the past year, I took on an internship with my friend Mike Belleme, an incredible photographer, storyteller, and overall human being based in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve learned so much about how to tell stories with photos, how to use light and the importance of it, and how to adapt myself into different situations that I’m not familiar with or comfortable with. The list could go on. And I still have a lot to learn.
Whose work inspires you?
Cole Barash, Alec Soth, Mike Brodie, Mike Belleme, George Etheredge, Bryan Derballa, Larry Clark, Graciela Iturbide, Sacha Lecca, Jessica Lehrman, Ryan McGinley, Danny Clinch, Tommy Nease, Cheryl Dunn, Jake Giles, Tomasz Low.
Have you ever photographed something that made you uncomfortable or scared?
I recently started a project that deals with just this. Most of what I shoot is about people that I’m close with and that doesn’t really make me feel uncomfortable. I’m starting to realize that stories that I want to take on don’t involve people that I’m familiar with and I don’t have much experience outside of that. First interactions make me very uncomfortable and nervous. So I decided to start shooting portraits of strangers around my college’s campus. I tell them that I’m shooting a project on fear and I share a personal story about a bad first interaction that I’ve had and I ask if they would mind sharing a story with me about something they fear. Once I gain some trust, I ask if I can take their photograph. You can learn so much from someone in less than five minutes of their time. For me this is more about the experience than the photographs.
What makes a good photograph?
A good photograph has feeling. A great photograph hits on all cylinders with feeling, composition, and aesthetic.
That I’ve ever used, Hasselblad 500cm.
Any interests outside of photography?
Family and friends, skateboarding, photo books, playing music, going to shows, travelling, dancing, parties, swimming holes, mountains.
What pushes you outside your comfort zone?
The thought of regret, and impulse decisions.
Why do you take photos?
I take photos to tell stories, for those brief moments of clarity, and to leave something behind when I die, even if it’s shit. Photography also gives you access to people and places that would be difficult to reach without a camera.