Alex Hoffpauir's Farewell
Interviewed by Jamie Hartnett, Transcribed by Warren Bujol
Mustaches, when worn properly, have been proven to increase an individual's success by 30%. I'm not certain if Alex Hoffpauir is an authentic mustacher because he is probably 7-8 feet tall, and it is almost impossible for me to get a good view of it. I do know; however, he recently landed a job at one of the most exciting start-ups (Waitr) in Lake Charles...which is why we have titled this piece, "Alex Hoffpauir's Farewell" and not, "Alex Hoffpauir's Regular Interview". You see, the Waitr app has extended its reach far beyond our city's limits, requiring its mustachioed photographer to travel to the very edges of its empire (Houston, TX) to photograph food. When I heard about Alex's departure, I realized that this could be my last chance to get his work on the cover of Exposure, and asked the wonderful Jamie Hartnett to record an interview with him on one of their last work assignments together. What she gave me was over 40 minutes long and has taken the greater part of a month to transcribe; it was paraphrased to something along these lines:
J: Your name is Alex Hoffpauir.
A: My name IS Alex Hoffpauir.
J: You graduated from Mcneese with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, concentration photography?
A: That is all correct.
J: Your dad is a crawfish man?
A: My dad was a carpenter, then out of nowhere he decided to be a crawfish farmer because he enjoys being outside.
J: Did he ever make you participate?
A: Yea, I helped a few times. Not last year, but two years ago I helped him set and bait traps and sift through the crawfish.
J: Didn't you take some pictures of the crawfish or have a project for it?
A: I just took some pictures for fun of that stuff, it's just weird. I think dead fish heads are a weird thing to see. The average persons not going to see half-eaten fish heads. That and I don't think most people in a pirogue with an iPhone are going to take an artistic picture. I guess it's like, I just think about weird situations and it's pretty uncommon for people, well maybe not in Louisiana, to sift through crawfish.
J: So do you think that crawfish had any effect on your photography?
A: I don't think crawfish did, but living out in the country does.
J: Where'd you live?
A: I lived in Bell City, Louisiana. The road we lived on is named after my grandpa; it's kind of out in the middle of nowhere, even for Bell City, which is already out in the middle of nowhere. So I think growing up in the country, you kind of pay attention more. In the city, everything is fast-paced, country life is slowed down, and plus my dad's kind of a funny guy; he'll crush Dr. Pepper cans with his stomach because he thinks it's funny. He's a strange person, but quirky and funny.
J: What's the weirdest thing you ever put in a crawfish boil? Like I've put broccoli...and hotdog weiniedogs, but then I learned that hotdogs are made out of buttholes...
A: Mushrooms, but I don't think they're weird I guess.
J: Let's go back to the...I guess I have to form it into a question...after you graduated; you wanted to go to grad school?
A: Yes. So basically, Lynn Reynolds is a professor at McNeese, and he's the head of the art department currently. He had seen some of the art I had done and he felt like with some of the pictures I was taking, I had a chance to go to grad school. So I took the pictures for my senior show and ran with it, turning them into several schools, none of them got back with me and it was kind of disheartening. I realized that grad school might not be for me. I kind of just went back to the life I had before; school and my job at the casino dealing Texas Hold 'em, which was good money, but not what I wanted to do.
J: And now you work for Waitr, doing food photography... probably pictured below.
A sampler of Alex's work with the Waitr App
A: Sure do, which funnily enough, is something I never thought I'd do because I didn't think I was good at that. I like to take pictures of odd occurrences or strange things in time. It wasn't until I worked with Daniel at Waitr that I realized I could, and liked, staging and photographing food. It's exciting to me to be able to travel to all these towns, meet new people and try the food (which is mostly local). That, and I still have time to do the more artistic things I like to do. The older you get, the more your life becomes convoluted.
J: Do you miss your ponytail?
A: Yes.... having long hair is awesome, but having in between long and short hair is not awesome...
J: Are you excited to be moving to Houston?
A: I am, it's a bit of mixed feelings, excited and nervous and a little sad. It's exciting because Houston is a new place and I've wanted to be in a new place for a long time now because it feels like people should experience that, even if you're miserable, you should at least experience it. The scared part is because I have a lot going for me here and good friends, everything is where I want it to be, etc. from that perspective, it's scary because it's like starting over...how am I going to make friends at 29 years old? And I'm sad because I'm going to miss Lake Charles. This place is like a low self-esteem teenager that looks in the mirror and says "I'm not good enough", and is always going to stay the same, but it is good enough and I wish more people saw that.
J: Yea! Who is someone (artist) who you think is really badass and everyone should check out? Don't say Banksy...
A: Banksy.... or Walker Evans (may have to fact check), he did this thing when film was still new, he'd take the subway in New York, and he'd set up and just take pictures of people when they were going to work or whatever. He thought the best time to take a portrait is when the subject didn't know they were being photographed. It was a way to see the people how they actually are; they weren't playing to the camera.
J: Any advice for people who want to become photographers?
A: Just practice. A lot. You might think you don't have the right equipment, and you'll hate your photography, but you just have to do it until you figure it out.
J: Anything you want to say to Lake Charles?
A: I'll miss you. This traffic sucks.
J: Are you scared of bridges?
A: Sort of....
Alex offered us a unique perspective of our city the way that only he could; squared and interestingly arranged. For those of you who aren't familiar with his work, you should Google it, or look for it on his Instagram. Godspeed, Alex. Don't forget to send a postcard.
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