Alex Handley

Award winning photographer and photojournalist, Alex Handley, graduated with BA (Hons)
Photography in 2002 and MA Photography in 2004 at Bradford College.

Alex HandleyAlex has been making headlines for his photojournalism even as a student, winning the Fuji Student Award in 1999 and the National No Smoking Day Competition in 2000. He later won the Ilford Spirit of the World Cup competition in 2006 and has collected numerous other prizes and sponsorships.

“I left school with no qualifications and in my early 20s it dawned on me that it would be a very long hard road unless I did something. After a 2 year Foundation course in Leeds I got unconditional offers from 5 universities around the country. I left a degree course disillusioned and happened upon Bradford College. Trevor Griffiths was a great inspiration to me then and still is. I had great experiences at the College. I was always very focussed.

To be a photographer you have to have lots of drive, good research and people skills, be humble and always ready to learn. While I was a student I worked with Terry Cryer, the big 1960s jazz photographer who also worked with the McCartneys. He rejected my first approach as he didn’t like students and was moving house. I was so determined I hired a van to help him move his extensive darkroom! Terry is now a good friend and I still work with him sometimes.

I also worked with the late Bob Carlos Clark. After he judged the anti- smoking competition, he offered me the chance to work with him. I have never turned work down as I want the experience. People laughed when I spent a day photographing dog bones, but the same company then had me photograph some of the stars of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Photography is personal, as much about what I have done in my life as the subject. When people look back at my work I don’t necessarily want them to think ‘he photographed some great things’, but ‘hasn’t he seen and been part of some great things?’ Good photojournalism often comes when you have the chance and the time to spend with people. If you are accepted and tolerated you are able to take the pictures that you want that are objective rather than subjective.”

Alex has been photographing circuses since 2004. His work encompasses spectacle and performance but also captures the communities involved. He is planning to commence a PhD in the near future.

Photograph by Trevor Griffiths