COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: ALEX LADOUCEUR
While his name may not be familiar, his work will be quickly recognized by any Tiny Waves community members or event goers. Alex Ladouceur is a professional event photographer, a TinyFam regular, and the creative behind ALXLA Photography. His work can be found promoted all over Tiny Waves’ social media with entire catalogues of his work on the official Tiny Waves website and Tiny Waves Facebook page. Tiny Waves decided it was time to put the spotlight on the photographer, so I sat down to take a look through the viewfinder and learn more about Alex and his love of photography.
Let’s start off by getting the basics out of the way – how did you end up in Orlando as an event photographer?
I first moved to Orlando about five years ago to finish my IT degree. Around four years ago I randomly decided to try taking some photos at an event I went to. At the time I just used my phone and eventually bought a stabilizer for my phone to take better photos. I didn’t take it very seriously at first. I was just posting photos to Facebook until one Christmas when I decided to buy myself a camera. There was immediately a noticeable difference in the photo quality, and I naturally developed a curiosity that evolved into an obsessive hobby that became a way to make money.
How did that transition from happenstance hobby to regular occupation come about?
Once I upgraded to a camera, people started to take notice of my photos. I would attend events in downtown Orlando and ask to shoot some photos while there. Eventually, a snowball effect happened where someone liked the photos and asked me to work an event, then another person asked me to work at their event, and so on. In time, I upgraded my equipment, switching from a Canon to a Sony for better low-light photos, and I really took my time to research lenses and other equipment. For example, I have four different lenses but tend to stick with the 24mm 1.4 lens because it is best for wide shots with low light, perfect for live events. The passion of it being a hobby is what motivates me to take the time to do research and take photos when I’m not working while also staying interested in picking up new gigs.
When did you first hear about Tiny Waves and how did you start working at Tiny Waves events?
Honestly, I’m still wrapping my head around how it all came together. I remember going to an event at the Geek Easy and a friend of mine introduced me to PolyKor who then invited me to attend a Tiny Waves show. That was still in my early days, so the photos I took weren’t the best, but Ben Briggs was supportive and invited me to another event. The second time shooting was a major step up from the first time.
It mostly started off with me taking crowd shots and stage photos – my bread and butter. Eventually Ben had the idea to do a photo booth. The great thing about photo booths is that the photos are a 100% guarantee versus crowd shots. With crowds you’ve got to worry about lighting whereas with a photo booth everything is all set up and good to go. It can get a bit repetitive, but it’s easy and can definitely get wild on a big night. Tiny Waves was really happy with the booth photos, so they decided to keep me on as their regular photographer.
You generally focus on photographs but also film video from time to time. How do the two differ, specifically when it comes to live events? Do you prefer to capture brief moments in a snapshot, or is it better to capture a larger moment in film? And how do you decide which moments to capture?
If you’re too focused on taking a lot of video, you’re gonna miss out on so many photos. You can take dozens of photos in the amount of time it takes someone to shoot a video that’s only a few seconds long. Not to mention that editing video takes 50-60% longer than editing photos. So you have a lot more work to do with video.
In terms of knowing when to take photos, it really depends. Sometimes you just gotta go with the lighting, but with music events, you can plan out some great shots. You can sometimes talk to the event organizer or the lighting tech or the visualist and figure out when the lighting will be ideal or the crowd will be the biggest. Then you can relay that back to the DJ and have everyone working together to get some great moments set up. I also like to use musical cues. Once you hear the build-up coming, you know everyone is gonna throw their hands up to the drop. Those are the moments when you get the best photos.
Other times, you may get asked to capture a certain moment. For example, at the Tiny Waves K-Pop Raves and CosRaves, we usually do a group photo at the end of the night. We also know that the crowd is usually biggest between 11pm and midnight, so that also helps with knowing when to get the camera ready. There’s a lot that can go into prior planning and trying to get a shot set up, but other times you just have to read the room, see the crowd, and gauge the lighting and rhythm.
You’ve certainly captured a lot of great moments at Tiny Waves events. What has been your overall experience with Tiny Waves?
The community is the best part. Even when I’m not working a Tiny Waves event, I’ll still show up to hangout and have a good time with everyone. And when I am working, the work is easy, communication is clear, and there’s a very friendly business model at play. We do what we can do help each other out and make sure everyone comes out satisfied. It’s also nice to have a client who is super happy with the work that you do. I’ve done work before where clients were noticeably unhappy with the photos but paid me anyways. Frankly, it’s better to work with someone who loves my photos but maybe can’t pay as much, or even at all, versus someone who dislikes my work but will throw money at me. For me that’s just a 100% fact. Joy over profit.
Having you as a regular photographer at events like CosRave has certainly helped to build and expand the Tiny Waves community and brand. Do you have a favorite Tiny Waves memory or event?
Holiday Matsuri was definitely one of my favorites. There were so many people and being invited along by Tiny Waves was a big highlight in my photography journey. I’ve attended cons before but that one really stuck out to me. I also had a lot of fun at the Tiny Waves Halloween Weekend 2021. It was a sold-out event with so many people lined up and waiting to get in because they were already at capacity. Those kinds of nights are the ones where you never really get bored because there’s just so much energy both in the club and overflowing out to the photo booth.
Those photo booth photos get shared to the Tiny Waves site and social media channels. What’s it like seeing your photos shared across social media?
That’s one of the most rewarding parts of it all. Seeing someone use the photo that I took as their profile photo or Facebook cover photo is proof that the work that I do makes people really happy. And then seeing people liking those photos or sharing group photos with their friends and communities…it really makes it all worth it.
And your photos certainly do make a lot of people happy! What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I’ll be frank: I don’t know everything. Sure, I can share my experience with others, but really the best advice is what I can give to myself based on my own personal work and knowledge. I think that’s true for most anyone, really. It’s always a chain of events that leads you from one place to another. You just have to start. I used to have a lot of difficulty reaching out and networking with others. Photography helped me to grow and be more comfortable talking to people. I got into it for fun, and it just naturally developed into what it is now. So…my advice to other photographers? You can start with any equipment, gain experience, and develop from there. What matters is that YOU are happy with the work that you do. As long as you enjoy the photos that you take, that’s what matters. Your happiness with what you do is the only priority.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve? Any big life goals or career plans? Are there certain events you’d love to photograph? What lies ahead for you, Alex?
For now, I’m just letting the photography guide me. Actually, I’m keener on lifestyle and street photography, but event photography is where the money is at. So if an opportunity presents itself and it’s of interest to me, then I’ll be down to do it. Like if I’m invited on a tour, then I’ll go where the band goes, taking candids and “on the go” photos. I’d really like that, though I’m open to anything.
As for events, it usually depends more on who’s playing than the event itself, but I would love to photograph EDC in Las Vegas one day. That said, I can see myself working in any field and being happy, as long as I’m able to do other stuff on the side. As much as I take photos to make others happy, I truly take photos to make myself happy.
Capturing flashing moments of happiness and success can be easily taken for granted, but we at Tiny Waves are forever grateful to Alex for his incredible photography work and community support. You can check out Alex’s work across the Tiny Waves social channels with full galleries of his photos viewable in our K-Pop Rave, CosRave, and TinyFam blog pages. Be sure to support Alex by following him on Instagram, checking out his portfolio website, and booking him on Facebook. Stay tuned for more of our new “Community Spotlight” interview series, artist profiles, live shows, and upcoming releases.
-Charming H. Thomas