In 2014, Alfie Bowen turned to wild-life photography in order to cope with bullying and feelings of alienation. By developing a personal style and sharpening his eye, Bowen's work quickly exceeded its initial purpose as a way to battle mental illness. His well-received work aims to cultivate love and a sense of responsibility for nature. Additionaly, his images help fund conservation efforts across the globe. Follow Bowen on Instagram. View additional works on his website.
Alfie, thank you for making the time to answer some questions. Let’s begin with your origins. Where did you grow up and did you ever make art as a child?
Thank-you for the opportunity to share my story and my work with your readers.
I grew-up in Suffolk, a small countryside town in the East of England. It’s a beautiful part of the world and inspires me on a daily basis — the vistas are beautiful and there is nothing better than watching the Suffolk sky catch fire at sunset.
I read that you began taking photos at a dark time in your life. Can you talk about how you discovered photography and how it helped during those hard times?
I have Autism and an Anxiety Disorder and, as a result, was bullied throughout my education. It was a dark time — no one wanted to know me, I felt like an alien and ended up trying to take my life on numerous occasions.
My escape and obsession had always been animals, I have loved them since birth and that love only grew stronger during the tough times. They love unconditionally, and never ridicule you for being you, the exact opposite of my experience with humans.
What was your early work like?
My early work went through various phases as I gradually taught myself photography. There were several months where I focused on landscapes, before almost exclusively switching to wildlife. I believe we photograph best what we love the most, and animals have always been my true love.
How do you think your work has developed?
I’ve worked hard to develop my own style, and it’s a continually evolving process. I think as we grow older we learn how to better channel our emotions, and emotion is key to photography, the hard times severe as fuel for my artwork.
I focus almost exclusively on wildlife, and often employ contrast in my work.
How is life as an artist?
It’s exciting, but also an emotional rollercoaster and a lot of hard work. You have to be prepared to work when others are socialising, and it can be lonely at times, but thats all part of the game, and I love everyday as an artist.
Why black and white?
My work is all about emotion, and I think black-and-white lends itself perfectly to that goal. I don’t shoot entirely in black-and-white, some vignettes are simply more powerful when they posses colour.
What type of work are you thinking of exploring in the near future?
I will certainly continue photographing wildlife, but the desire to get better at what I do is stronger than ever, and at only 21 there is much room for improvement.
Any exciting exhibitions or events coming up?
We are working on several exciting projects including the global release of my debut coffee-table book ‘Wild World’ in 2020 along with a UK-wide tour and a collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund. We are also committed to giving back to causes close to my heart, and have recently donated pieces for auction to African Revival and Clinks Care Farm. The future is exciting, and the journey is only just starting.