Artist spotlight: Alex McCauley ‘26

Going behind the camera

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If you’re a Muhlenberg student with Instagram, it’s likely that you’ve seen some of Alex McCauley’s ‘26 artwork pop up on your feed. The economics major’s art Instagram account has been gaining a lot of traction by posting photoshoots with members of the student body. The shoots are not in a traditional style that you might expect from a student photographer. Rather, McCauley’s photos take on an expressive, yet simplistic quality. 

His primarily black and white portrait photography has taken the campus community by storm and McCauley is consistently working with new clients. This begs the question– how did McCauley get started on his journey with photography? McCauley noted that in his first semester at Muhlenberg, he decided “it might be nice to have a fourth class that wasn’t super, super involved, that I could kind of relax and have a creative outlet. And that was Intro to Digital Photography.”

Then, in January of 2023, McCauley purchased the digital camera he uses now: a Fuji X-T3. At first, he started bringing the camera around during outings with friends. What McCauley started to notice was that people are more captivated when looking at pictures of other people, rather than any other subject. With this in mind, McCauley began taking photos of others last semester, starting by photographing a party at Delta Tau Delta (DTD.) “Party photography, that was really fun. And that blew up a little more because everybody in DTD shared it and people that were in the pictures shared them and that just kind of exponentially grew the impressions that it got,” said McCauley. 

McCauley describes this endeavor in portrait photography as an effort to build trust. “I think this semester, what my project is on, my big project, is I lost trust in somebody last semester and I’m trying to gain back that trust in somebody through strangers asking me to help them look their best. [It] is something that is really valuable to me that they trust me.”

When discussing the dynamic that he likes to create between himself and the subject, McCauley stressed the importance of collaboration, saying, “But I don’t like having full autonomy. It’s really a lot of pressure and it feels unfair. I want it to feel like a collaboration between me and that subject. And when it’s just my ideas that are coming across, it doesn’t have the same value to me as a collaboration.”

McCauley, who is also a member of Muhlenberg’s golf team, is particularly inspired by acclaimed sports photographers Kohjiro Kinno and Christian Hafer. “They’re very, very good at a style which I think is the hardest thing for me in photography because almost everybody has access to the same types of materials and the same types of subjects,” said McCauley. 

Connecting McCauley’s passions for golf and photography might not be as difficult as one might imagine. McCauley connected the two, saying, “Golf is a lot about creating different shots based on the parameters and restrictions, ‘you can’t go too far over on this side,’ or ‘it’s really bad if you miss in this spot.’ I think I like focusing, in photography, on creating that shot.”

McCauley takes an approach of neutrality when photographing his subjects. When photographing for a shoot, he is solely focused on the craft. He stated, “I’m not really focused on who they (the subjects) are, or what opinions they might have on me or that I might have on them. I’m just trying to create the best possible experience/photos with them.”To schedule your shoot with McCauley or to just check out his work, head to @amccauleyart on Instagram.

Katie is a Media & Communication and Political Science double major in the class of 2024. When she's not working on the paper you can find her blasting Taylor Swift, reading Jane Austen, or crying over Little Women (2019).

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