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ALEX BUISSE / CHAMONIX, FR

Some people climb mountains. Alexandre does everything to them. Think about it. Now stop thinking because you’re weirding us out.
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My mountaineering gives me unique access to some of the wildest and most beautiful places on the planet, and sharing those moments is one of my main motivations for picking up a camera.

It’s no wonder Alex loves the peaks. He grew up in Lyon and now lives in Chamonix – the heart of the breathtaking French Alps – considered by some to be the mountaineering capital of the world. Since his initiation into photography he’s racked up some serious accomplishments, including publishing two books on mountain photography and teaching his own workshops on the same subject.

A commercial mountain photographer by trade, Alex spends his spare time mountaineering, climbing, skiing and paragliding. If it can be done on a mountain, he's done it. And with everything he's accomplished, Alex still has his sights set high. In his own words, “my life master plan includes spending a Winter in Antarctica, making alpine first ascents, soloing big walls and eating a lot of cheese.”

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We ain't no fromagerie, but we're pretty sure Alex earned that cheese.


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What kind of cheese do you use to get a bear down from a mountain?

Camembert, obviously.

Good guess. So what’s the most extreme place you’ve ever shot?

High up on the Salathe Route on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park in California. I was shooting a local climber called Cody Sims who was attempting to link up El Cap and Half Dome in a day. I fixed lines from the top of the El Cap rim and abseiled down 300 metres to shoot Cody’s progress. I was ridiculously exposed, I think I checked my gear 5 times before pushing off the ledge to 1000 metres of air below.

You shoot some of the best extreme sports athletes – how do you keep up?

Great point… yes, it’s a professional necessity to keep fit and competent in these sports. Being an enthusiast myself helps me keep the pace with athletes.

First camera?

Nikon D50… my 20th birthday present. I was hiking and climbing lots and I was frustrated that I never had good images from the trips. Now I use a D800. I handed the D50 down to my sister and she still uses it to this day.

You’ve got some pretty sick stuff on Vimeo. How much does video creep into your work as a photog?

Yeah, it’s essential to move with the times.. I’ve started to shoot video a lot more now that Nikon has some good video modes on their pro cameras. Photography tends to be suggestive, letting viewers guess about a scene, while video has to be more explicit.

Dream photo shoot?

A significant 1st Ascent in a remote area… Perhaps something like when Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk did the first ascent of Meru Central (6310m) via the Shark's Fin in India recently.

What job did you have before being a photographer?

I studied a PhD in Mathematics, theoretical computer science… I handed in my PhD thesis, then quit for the mountains.

Whaddaya think about Capture?

In my field, when something happens it doesn’t usually happen for long. Plus, I’m usually climbing or skiing while shooting, so I can’t take big breaks to get my gear. I use Capture for full accessibility of my camera. I need to be able to access my camera in seconds… less than seconds sometimes. That’s why I like the clip – it’s lightweight and unobtrusive. I wear it on my climbing harness or rucksack and it doesn’t get in the way of my other gear, which my life depends on. I also use the ThinkTank Skin system and I find it works really well with Capture.

And Leash?

I use the Leash lots as a safety tether – gives me real comfort to know that i’m protected from accidental drops in harsh environments.

Speaking of harsh environments, what’s the gnarliest injury you’ve sustained in the field?

I’ve been caught in an avalanche… that was a close call. On another occasion, I was climbing a North face in Chamonix. I was forced to spend the night at 3500m in a bivvy, and I caught frostbite in some of my toes.

Toes, shmoes. We have 10 for a reason. So, if you weren’t a badass photographer, what would you be?

I’d definitely be a badass Mountain Guide. I’d be studying for the guide exam right now, it takes time and determination, but I’d love to make a living that way.

Next big project?

I’m going to the Pamiar mountain range in August 2013. It’s a double goal expedition… We want to make 1st ascents of four 5000m mountains and help and support a climbing school that was started a few years back, we’ll be training local guides so they can further others in mountain sports.