Alec Ilstrup and His Visual Chronicles

Documenting his adventures through still and motion pictures, Alec’s storytelling draws us in to that moment in time. His visually compelling images leave a mark of nostalgia, romanticism, and wonder. Check out this talented young man below.

Say hello to Alec:



Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I was born in Mountain View, California, but my family moved up to Seattle when I was young. I grew up there in a suburb just east of the city. It was a great place to grow up with plenty to do, and the huge creative community was a big plus.

My family didn’t travel internationally a lot when I was a kid, but I’ve been all over the United States and through a bit of British Columbia. I’ve also been to Spain and was recently doing work in South Africa and Zambia.


What’s your favorite place in the world?

It’s hard to choose one place, as I love big cities like New York, but I also love the mountains. I’d have to say the Northern Cascade mountains or the Snoqualmie Pass region in Washington State are some of my favorites. They have the most beautiful mountain peaks and lakes I have ever seen. It’s hard not to take a good picture there.




You create both still and motion pictures – was there a particular film, director, or photographer that inspired you down this path?

I wouldn’t say there is one person that inspires me to create. I think it’s the whole community of talented creatives. I started out making movies with my friends in the woods with my parents’ camcorder. We would go shoot a short film on the fly and then see what we could do with the footage. It just grew from there, as I found out what I liked to film and what I didn’t.

How do you find your inspiration?

I find a lot of inspiration from music. Hearing a melody and picturing what I think that melody would look like in the form of a photograph is exciting to me.

Tell us about your career.  How did you get into it?

My first ever paid job was filming my friend’s birthday party. It just grew from there – I’ve now shot at multiple mountain bike races, festivals, and events, as well as a few short documentaries and promotional videos. Most of what I’ve done has been in the mountain biking community in Washington State, with photography being more for fun on the side.

What types of photography do you do?

I love traveling, so most of what I do is landscape with some portrait work. I love the outdoors and I’m always finding new hikes to do. Taking photos in nature is what I really enjoy.

What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?

I wouldn’t say it is strange necessarily, but being in Cape Town as a photographer was frustrating. It’s such a beautiful city and country, but it’s dangerous. Walking around with a big expensive DSLR draws a lot of attention. You can do it, there is just some risk involved.

What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?

Letting go of what other people think and shooting what I enjoy. Constructive criticism and insulting someone’s work are two very different things. You have to know which is which and ignore the haters.

What are your favorite three photos you’ve taken?

This is a tough one. My photography is constantly changing as I learn new things and get new ideas. I’d have to say my favorites right now are these three.


This was taken when I had the chance to go on a game drive in Chobe National Park in Botswana. We saw countless elephants, giraffes, hippos and more. We were on a boat in a river between Botswana and Namibia when we spotted this female elephant crossing the channel. She posed for us several times while exiting the water.

This was taken on a short hike I did with my girlfriend to Franklin Falls in Washington. It was a good day and this photo always brings a smile to my face.

This was taken on top of Lion’s Head in Cape Town, South Africa early in the morning. My loft mates and I hiked up there to watch the sunrise over the city. It was one of the most incredible views I have ever seen.

Photography is competitive.  How do you stand out?

Create content that tells a story. Not just a pretty picture.

What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?

Take photos that you would want to see in a magazine or online or wherever you think the best photographs are published. Shoot often and shoot with what you have. You don’t have to leap straight into shopping for a high-end DSLR.

If you could photograph anywhere in the world, where would it be?

One destination on my list of places to shoot is Iceland. I’d love to rent a 4×4 and drive around the island, exploring waterfalls, caves or whatever I happen to stumble upon.

What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?

Take photos that you would enjoy looking at. There are sure to be other people that will enjoy them too.

What kind of gear do you have?

I shoot on Canon and Sony. I own a Canon 6D body with a Canon 17-40mm f/4L, 70-200mm f/4L and a 50mm f/1.8. I also have a Sony A7SII with a Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 and 55mm f/1.8. I absolutely love my Sony for video as well as for photos, but choosing between Canon and Sony is hard. It really depends on the day.

What’s one of your biggest fears?

Not being able to create the art that I enjoy creating.


What will you be doing five years from now?

I’m hoping to be starting my own business in the film/photography world. Traveling, shooting, and enjoying life. Most of all, just being happy.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?

Take a helicopter ride over New York City.

For anyone that wants to get in touch with Alec, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile


Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @alecilstrup

Alec, thanks for taking the time to interview with us!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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