Friday, October 12, 2012

Alex Parker

For one of my uni assignments I had to write a profile, a profile on someone interesting, someone inspiring and someone with a story to tell. I was lucky enough to have my friend Alex Parker agree to sit down with me and write about her and her life. Quite a big ask, having someone ask you personal questions and record and write everything down. I know Alex through work, I have had the pleasure of styling some wonderful shoots with her. It was such a great experience interviewing Alex and writing the story that follows. She is a very inspiring and talented young woman. I hope you all enjoy.

 
Photo by Alex Parker

To the unassuming passer-by, Alexandrea Parker is another pretty 20 something going about her day like every other girl. “People often misjudge me, they think that I am really shy and have nothing to say or don’t think that much,” she said. After talking to Alex, it is quite easy to tell that this is not the case. She is observant, she watches her surroundings and you can see that she is thinking, everything she says is said with purpose and confidence. “She has a fire inside her,” said Emma Caldwell a colleague and friend, who agrees with Alex on the misconceptions that people have of her. “First impressions of Alex people think she is young and na├»ve,” Emma says. If this were the case, Alex  would not be where she is today.

Moving to Melbourne in 2008 from Shepparton in rural Victoria, Alex began a Bachelor of Photography at RMIT, she has overcome many obstacles and achieved many things in only a few short years.  Currently working as a freelance photographer, Alex  has just finished shooting the children’s wear campaign for Country Road. She is about to begin shooting their summer range, along with children’s campaigns for Papier Mache Magazine, Estella NYC among others. “I love shooting kids, they are real, they have no preconceived idea of what you are trying to do,” Alex said.

It’s easy to see that photography is what  Alex is passionate about. She has a passion to share beautiful images full of a feeling or a mood with the world. While studying Alex travelled to Paris, she interned in both Melbourne and New York with photographer Christian Witkin and began to build a folio that would see her shift focus into predominantly children’s photography. Inspired by Tim Walker and Irving Penn, her ambition is to create images that “are inspiring to myself and to other people,” Alex said. “It is always the feeling…it’s a feeling that a photographer or an artist can feel, people who can feel that inspire me as well. I am obsessed with a mood, I connect with people like that,” she said.

Her choice to focus on children’s photography was a very tactical one, “it was a decision about the kind of person I wanted to be,” Alex said. People often ask why she chooses to work in such a niche industry, she is very clear that this is all planned out. Having a clear plan in her head and even though others may think it’s crazy Alex has found something she believes in.

2011 proved to be a tough year for Alex, “it was one big lowlight, I struggled to maintain finances, to produce work that I was inspired by and I wasn’t sure where I was,” she said. She also realised that she needed to be busy all the time and freelance work comes and goes. Sometimes there is so much going on but there is a lot of down time. Her health also began to cause problems, Alex was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at six weeks old, she was concerned that maybe photography was not the right thing for her. Struggling with finding work to keep her busy all the time, lead to her returning to study. She began a Diploma of Education at La Trobe University as Alex’s  goals and dreams seemed to be getting further away, “I didn’t think that photography was really going to suit my lifestyle because my health was starting to be my priority,” she said.

Living with Cystic Fibrosis was never a challenge until Alex moved to Melbourne, while still at home her mum, Karen Parker, ensured that she had a healthy diet, exercising every day. “Mum was so strict on me, I swam every day for 10 years…I was really healthy, and it [Cystic Fibrosis] never really affected me.” She continued, “But then I moved to RMIT village, for the first time in my life my health was my sole responsibility.”

Alex is currently on a new drug for her Cystic Fibrosis, Kalydeco, she began taking Kalydeco in May and the results have been amazing. Unlike all previous Cystic Fibrosis medication Kalydeco is a preventative drug, not used to fix current symptoms or infections, it prevents symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis. Kalydeco was introduced to Australia this year, currently in Australia there are 170 people who are eligible for the drug. Due to the hefty price tag of $70,000 for a three month prescription only three people, including Alex are on the drug. “I am really lucky that I am from a family that can afford this drug,” she said. It is clear that Alex is grateful for everything that she has in life, for everything that she has achieved and for all the opportunities that she has been given. She has an appreciation for life that many people her age don’t have, life is a gift and she intends to live it to her full potential. “Alex’s greatest achievement has been overcoming her physical illness with a positive attitude”, said her mum Karen.

“If anything Cystic Fibrosis has probably given me more drive to be successful because I have a bigger appreciation for life,” Alex said. She also spoke of how her biggest fear is dying due to Cystic Fibrosis, although it has been a burden Alex is open to the fact that, “Cystic Fibrosis has made me the person I am today.”

Alex has had personal struggles, nonetheless she has faced them and you can see that strength in her eyes. “Alex is determined and strong-willed, she is about making the most of life…she inspires me,” said friend, Emma. Alex’s mum spoke of her daughters’ determination and drive, talking openly about how proud she is of her daughter and everything that she has achieved, as well as being proud of the woman she has grown up to become. Her mum spoke of how Alex has always tried to find ways to make everything she has faced work for her, focused on the outcome rather than the difficulties. She is all about making the most of life, learning from her mistakes and taking all of the obstacles that life throws at her in her stride, working hard to achieve her goals. “I make my own happiness,” says Alex.
 
 
Photo: Alexandrena Parker
Model: Lisa Mitchell
Stylist: Jam Baylon
M.U.A: Kate Fletcher
Assistant: Amy Lobb
 
 
 
You can view Alex's work at http://alexandrenaparker.com/
More on Cystic Fibrosis at Cystic Fibrosis
Article: Samantha Savage

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