Alexis Gross is a film photographer based in Los Angeles. Her work is instinctive, documenting chaotic and mundane scenes with equal attention. The vivid colors and distorted zine-like textures she creates are a DIY combination of broken cameras, photocopying and scanning, and it makes her photos of culture and subcultures—and the misunderstood and misrepresented people that live passionately in those worlds—something really special.
Recently, we asked Alexis to capture the humanity behind the clothes we make. She joined us for a few days and met workers in our Los Angeles factories, just weeks before the realities of COVID-19 hit the city hard. We spoke to her about that experience, her no-process process, and how she got to be exactly where she is right now.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Fun, honest, loyal.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a rock star doctor president New York Knicks City Dancer.
How did you find your way to Los Angeles?
I worked in skateboarding in my late teens/early 20s and decided LA would be a great career move if I wanted to keep it up in that world.
What do you like most about living here?
I like all the untouched pockets that still exist and thrive here. I love knowing there's so much culture within the radius of just LA county and there's always something or somewhere new to discover.
How do you introduce yourself to those who don’t know you?
What activities or daily rituals help get you through the week?
I'm a victim of daily pot smoking. I would be miserable without it! I also notice the days that I work out and do yoga, I feel my best.
Do you remember the first picture you took?
I don’t remember because I've been taking photos since I was very young, living in a small town. I would go to Jewish sleep away camp and be so enamored with the different types of people... mostly boys and would love photographing them so I could look at the images on my walls back at home when camp would be over and fantasize about fake boyfriends and life outside of my tiny town. I would say a photo of my male camp councilor was my first favorite photo I took.
You have an unusual attention to image making. Could you walk us through your process?
The crazy part about all of this is that there is no process! I pay attention to what my brain is paying attention to and start there. Because I have zero traditional training in photography, it's always me experimenting with different angles and lighting. I can control some of the imagery, but I honestly have no idea how the images will turn out until I get the film back.
What is it about the image/scan relationship that speaks to you?
I think of the scanner as an additional tool in creating the final image that I’m looking to create. It adds the flavor and depth I am looking for.
What people, places, aesthetic things are inspirational for you right now?
Right now I would say the people hustling are inspiring me! I’ve been following this dance crew in Memphis that's doing online tutorials, and some of my friends who do exotic dancing here have been doing online classes. A common theme in my work is passion, so now more then ever we’re seeing that come to life.
Places would be ones with little to no people for obvious reasons lol which is making me explore nature more!
Aesthetic is always such a funny thing for me because to me it can be sooooo many things rolled into one. I am all over the place as far as that goes.
Do you have a favorite project you’ve done?
My favorite project might be the road trip I went on to Memphis and Detroit from NYC. It was then that I discovered my true abilities in humanity, humility, and where my purpose lays.
What do you think about when you’re alone?
I think about how I wish I was married with some cool kids, but then I also remember everything has its timing and purpose and to enjoy this me time while I have it.
I’d love to hear what your experience was like going to our LA factories and meeting the people behind the garments. How was that experience?
Being invited to do this project with EVERYBODY.WORLD was an incredible experience. Everyone we interacted with was so lovely and attentive to what their task was. You can tell how well taken care of everyone is which is so important in the garment industry. I am grateful I was able to meet and connect with so many hard working humans.
What’s next for you?
I've got a few things cooking right now with myself thankfully, because who knows when I’ll be back to work! Every time things are slow with work I try to focus on personal work.
Follow Alexis on Instagram: @alexisjadegross.