Of all the questions I want to ask Alexis Gross, the most interesting is also the least tasteful. But it doesn’t take long to realize the 21-year-old photographer places more value in honestly than refinement, which begins to make plenty of sense as I flick through her photography: Her collection is a grainy, raw and unapologetically candid documentation of a real-life teenage wasteland.
Alexis doesn’t miss a beat when I ask her about the “F**ks” section of her portfolio, secretly hoping the criteria a picture has to meet to be included in the category is as obvious as it seems.
“The fuck section is about dudes I've f**ked, my friends who are f**king each other and dudes who are just f**ked!” Alexis says, proving that with this girl, what you see is really what you get.
The New York native had an organic growth into her budding career behind the lens; according to Alexis, her mother was a “groupie” and a fleeting love interest of Greg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band who documented her escapades with big-name musicians in the same sort of untouched style as Alexis'.
“My mom took photos of bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who and ZZ Top and showed these photos to me when I was really young,” explains Alexis. “The thought had always passed through my mind [to become a photographer]. I’ve been shooting since I was 16.”
In the same vein as her mother’s insider status, Alexis’ “members only” position in the New York skateboarding club is what sets her photographs apart from a slew of work from more prestigious skate photographers. It’s fitting that her personal style is perfectly ‘90s grunge-a uniform of jeans, twisted tops and clogs- since that’s the style her photos are shot in. Instead of capturing another way of life, she’s simply documenting her own.
“This is my life. I feel like my photos just say it for me,” Alexis says. “I grew up around skateboarders and I love the energy and the passion. A typical day for me consists of wake and bake, exercise, looking at my desk, delicious breakfast and tons of coffee, going to work at a salon, coming home to smoke weed and pass out to South Park. Sometimes, that last part is substituted by filming some skateboarding or going to a show.”
Alexis’ situational photography is gradually leading her to more editorial work. She recently published a zine of her work, shot an ad for Glamour Kills for Nylon magazine and took on a contributing photographer’s position at the skate magazine Color, all while working on shooting look books for a few clothing brands. And as her resume grows, she isn’t opposed to a break from shooting long-haired guys at a party. “I wish girls didn’t think I wanted their boyfriend every time I wanted to photograph them.”