A New Creative Journey

Dear friend,

My name is Alex Perkins, I'm 32, currently loving life in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm a transplant here, originally from a small town in the beautiful New Hampshire countryside, though I've lived in Nashville for close to five years now. I moved here for the music industry, in which I've been participating for the past seven years as a traveling stage manager and guitar tech. For more than ten years prior to my career as a tech, I pursued the music industry from the other side, as a musician, creating music that I loved with my best friends and traveling the country trying to be heard. The idea that I could possibly spend my life this way, experiencing so many new places and people while spreading music I helped create and believed in was so Utopian to me! Those were some of the best years in my life, and I was sad when they were over.

 Photo: Kolby Schnelli

Photo: Kolby Schnelli

The end of that chapter in my life brought the beginning of the next, which I am currently still writing, though I feel a new chapter is near. As my band decided it was time to throw in the towel seven years ago now, my love for the gear brought me my first gig as a guitar tech. I quickly found that my skill set was better suited to this tech side of music, and have since traveled around the world working for bands like Owl City, Relient K, Say Anything, NeedToBreathe, and many others. Through these years and experiences I have become much more introspective, and have been learning a lot about myself including my strengths and my weaknesses, as well as noticing my patterns and habits. One big revelation was realizing my reliance on maintaining a constant creative outlet. Working as a traditional guitar tech or stage manager, there really isn't much creativity in the job. Since I had stopped writing music with my friends, I soon found myself building elaborate rigs (AlexPerkinsBuilds) for the musicians I worked for to solve problems I faced on the road. Only recently have I realized that I've been subconsciously using these gear builds as my creative fix, an outlet which I now understand is vital to my well-being. 

 This is my shop where I do all my building work, as well as hangs

This is my shop where I do all my building work, as well as hangs

  Here is a flyable guitar rig and a MainStage keyboard rig I built for Owl City in 2015

 Here is a flyable guitar rig and a MainStage keyboard rig I built for Owl City in 2015

 An Owl City soundcheck in Yokohama, Japan

An Owl City soundcheck in Yokohama, Japan

Despite the fact that I really enjoy designing and building job specific gear, I've begun to question whether or not it is the creative outlet that I desire. I spend hundreds of hours building a piece of musical gear that performs as dependably and efficiently as possible. I love using the gear on the road daily or watching someone else interact with gear that I built, but I have since learned the harsh reality; these builds I pour my heart and my time into often get used for only a few tours before collecting dust in storage, or worse, get ripped apart by clueless techs.

 Here is a MIDI controlled wireless rack that took over 80 hours to design and build in 2014

Here is a MIDI controlled wireless rack that took over 80 hours to design and build in 2014

 Here is the same rack in 2016, just bones collecting dust in a storage unit graveyard

Here is the same rack in 2016, just bones collecting dust in a storage unit graveyard

This past year I witnessed my creative attention wander from gear building, and I began searching for the "next step" as I've termed it. Although I love the work that I do now traveling as a stage manager, I decided if I were to do something different it would need to include a few things: travel and adventures, a constant flow of new people and evolving situations, and most importantly, it would need to serve my creative hunger in a more infused and natural way. I had a few ideas I was pursuing as a possible "next step", but none seemed to offer all three of the core things I value most. Last summer I fell in love with a FujiFilm camera after holding one in a camera shop in Tokyo. Days later I climbed Mt. Fuji, and after shooting the trip on my phone I really wished I had the FujiFilm camera. I ordered one immediately, and It turned out to be the best purchase I've made for myself in years. I regret not buying a camera sooner.

 The view from the summit of Mt. Fuji, as seen by my phone

The view from the summit of Mt. Fuji, as seen by my phone

I have owned cameras in the past and even questioned photography as a career path almost ten years ago, but I never revisited it seriously until now. This FujiFilm X100T camera has been the best way to be reintroduced into photography. It reminds me of shooting on an old Japanese Pentax film camera that I used in high school, when the photo bug grabbed me for the first time 15 years ago. It has physical controls for shutter speed and aperture, which make it a blast to shoot manually with. I've become absolutely obsessed with shooting with this camera! After six months of heavy research, studying the photos of the worlds greatest photographers, and shooting all day every day to grow my own skill, a new "next step" has materialized:

I WANT TO MAKE GREAT PICTURES THAT INSPIRE PEOPLE!

 An inspired man inspires others in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, but not everyone succumbs to the power of inspiration

An inspired man inspires others in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, but not everyone succumbs to the power of inspiration

It hit me like an explosion! suddenly it occurred to me that photography is the "next step" I had been searching for, unfolding before my eyes for me to discover! I couldn't contain myself!  I can maintain the travel and adventure, the new people and evolving situations, and feed my creative hunger by producing photos and photo essays of things that interest me most! I recently finished my first ever photo essay about Appalachian Trail thru-hikers passing through the Smoky Mountains. Every step of that process was an absolutely thrilling experience. I photographed the last tour I worked on, and thoroughly enjoyed that experience as well. 

 38, a hiker I met early in his 2200 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail

38, a hiker I met early in his 2200 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail

 Mannheim Steamroller finishing their set at the historic Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan

Mannheim Steamroller finishing their set at the historic Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan

So that is where I will start my journey, shooting the people that I travel and work with, as well as anything I find that inspires me. I am going to record my experiences and results in this journal as a record for myself, so I can revisit at future points in my life and remember where I have been, and hopefully learn from it. But I also hope that I can inspire others to pursue whatever it is that excites them in life, because there is no time to waste! Wish me luck on my new journey, and please follow along for lots of pictures to come in future posts!

-Alex

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