Start with an idea for a week-long experience in the Hawaiian Islands, mix in some of the leading creators from the Sony Alpha Imaging Collective, add the winners of the Be Alpha Challenge, bring it all together with the latest Sony cameras and lenses and you get the #BeAlphaHawaii trip that’s kicking off right now.
“[B]eing able to [travel to Hawaii] in this environment where you're surrounded by creators and you're surrounded by a company that's enabling these creators to do amazing stuff and create new content… that's next level.”
In the fall of 2018 Sony invited photographers and filmmakers to enter the Be Alpha Challenge by showing some of the their best imagery and by writing what Be Alpha means to them. Plenty of brands run “win a free vacation” contests, but Sony is doing something different and…well…more creative. From the submissions, five winners were chosen and are now en route to the Hawaiian Islands where they’ll spend the week side by side with five members of the Alpha Imaging Collective.
We had a chance to speak with the Be Alpha Challenge winners, Nakul Bhatnagar (@nakulbphotog), Ilanit Manor (@imanor), Matthew Kimble (@matthewkimble), Dylan Spitz (@dylanspitz) and Jessica Santos (@missjessbess) about why this trip is more than just an expense-paid vacation in the islands for them.
“I'm excited to meet the people. The Alpha team that's going to be there,” says Nakul Bhatnagar, a travel photographer from the Bay Area. “I've never been on something like this where I'm surrounded by so many creators and so many talented individuals that are all together. It's insane to me. It’s going to be a such a learning experience, talking to them, seeing where they come from and their approach to photography and trying to shoot with everyone.”
View this post on Instagram Sometimes getting lost leads to the best adventures. I arrived at this location, when I thought I was headed to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. When I arrived I noticed that I was the only one there and it felt off the beaten path. I quickly came to realize that there are multiple Bamboo Groves in and around Kyoto, and I wasn’t at the right one. But I made the most of it and was able to capture some fun pictures while there! @sonyalpha #bealpha #sonyalpha @sony @instagramjapan #instagramjapan Exposure: 1/40 Aperture: f/9 ISO: 400 A post shared by Nakul Bhatnagar (@nakulbphotog) on Jan 10, 2019 at 6:47am PST
He continues, “You can go to Hawaii and go to these islands and do some of the things we’ll be doing on your own. But, being able to do it in this environment where you're surrounded by creators and you're surrounded by a company that's enabling these creators to do amazing stuff and create new content… that's next level.”
Landscape photographer Jessica Santos adds, “I'm really looking forward to collaborating with all the creative people. I love being around other creative people so I think it will be amazing to be in such a beautiful place and to share that experience with other creatives that have their own unique style, and their own unique eye and see how they photograph that world. I think that's the thing I'm looking forward to the most.”
View this post on Instagram Would you rather be rich doing a job you hate or poor doing a job you love? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Put your passion above being comfortable and take risks! Most times you have to work hard to be successful doing a job you love, don’t get stuck in the hard times, persevere my friends! It might be cliche but anything worth having doesn’t come easy, it take dedication and hard work to master any craft! You got this! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Easily one of the highlights of my trip with @598tango we got to stay at a hotel with this right outside our backyard. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I was photographing my heart out dodging the tide and I turn around and my mom is giving an impromptu photo class on the beach lol. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The rock formations of the Oregon coast are unlike anything, giants resting on the shores. I’ll definitely be out here again around late season when the Milky Way comps were abundant and perfect ✌🏻💕 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “The time will pass away, you can either spend it creating the life you want, or spend it living the life you don’t want. The choice is yours.” ~ A Wise Man ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @sonyalpha A7rii with @zeisscameralenses 16-35mm ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @cokin polarizer ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 16mm - f/16 - ISO 50 - 3.2” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ … ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #bealpha #natgeo #natgeoyourshot #dreamworldimages #sonyalpha #sonyimages #sonyalphasclub #landscapes #landscapephotomag #iglandscape #trappingtones #igmasterpiece #igpodium #splendidearth #gramslayers #agameoftones #pnwlove #oregoncoast #yourshotphotographer #mastershots #wonderfulplaces #instagood10k #beautifuldestinations #exploretocreate #roamtheplanet #jawdroppingshots #trav3lr #earthescape #igworldcolors #theglobewanderer A post shared by Jess Santos (@missjessbess) on Jan 14, 2019 at 5:55pm PST
The Be Alpha Challenge winners are all accomplished creators in their own right. From travel to landscape to adventure filmmaking, they bring diverse skill sets and perspectives to the collaborative environment in the hopes of expanding their creative abilities.
“I'm a very big believer in community and not competition,” says Jess Santos. “I believe the only person you're in competition with is yourself and your last photograph. I'm striving to be the best I can be for myself, not to compete with anyone else. And that’s what Be Alpha means to me, it's being the best version of yourself whatever that may be and whatever your goals are.”
View this post on Instagram A gloomy morning view of Mt. Hood. The sun was trying to blast through, but the clouds just kept wrapping around the mountain. Made for some interesting color play, though! A post shared by Dylan Spitz (@dylanspitz) on Jan 21, 2019 at 4:21pm PST
And Dylan Spitz says, “I think for me, being Alpha is sort of being a pioneer in the industry in some way. Not being dominant over other people, but dominating the part of your career that you want to. Regardless of what style or genre you shoot or how you want to categorize yourself. I feel like it's just pushing the limits of what people think is possible or what you think is possible. What gear can do. And sort of just tearing down those limitations. Whether it be via your mindset or the gear that's available to you.”
Ilanit Manor puts it simply, “To me, being Alpha means being a leader.” And for Ilanit, photography has enabled her to be that leader. She explains, “I’m very introverted, and a little bit awkward and shy. But photography changed that for me completely. Even though I'm an introvert with everything else in my life, when it comes to photography, I am completely extroverted, and happy to talk to people, and always trying to make friends when I'm out on the road shooting. Photography has helped me be more of a leader than the shy, introverted girl that I have been all my life.”
View this post on Instagram It’s been a crazy busy week and haven’t spent much time on instagram. I’ll try and catch up on everyone’s posts. I’m dreaming of snow☃️ while packing for Hawaii 😂. Have a great weekend! . . . . #sonyimages #sonyalpha #igunitedstates #artofvisuals #ShotzDelight #usaprimeshot #eclecticshotz #yourshotphotographer #roam247 #igcolor #usinterior #SonyAlphaFemale #moodygrams #nationalparkgeek #OptOutside #TLpicks #BeAlpha #earthshotz #visualsoflife #globalexposures #earthofficial #lostworldtreasures #gottolovethis #beautifuldestinations #jawdroppingshots #igworldcolors #gotgreatshots #amazingshots #abc7now #depthsofearth @sonyalpha @beautifuldestinations @artofvisuals @moodygrams @natgeotravel @earthofficial A post shared by ilanit (illy) (@imanor) on Jan 26, 2019 at 8:33am PST
A lot of photographers can relate to Ilanit and how the camera and photography transform her into a leader. Being a photographer, and by that we mean being someone who wants to make photography a creative endeavor and not just be pointing and shooting, is empowering.
Matthew Kimble puts it this way, “Being Alpha means that we have responsibility. It means we have purpose. The camera is a powerful tool in the hands of its user. We stand, at a point in history, where anyone can tell their story and share their perspective, but where do they look in order to discover how to do so? Where are the standards, the forerunners, that give us inspiration, the direction, and the motivation? This is what being Alpha means to me, giving people the permission to go for it, to chase the dreams that they hold in their hearts, until they hold them in their hands.”
View this post on Instagram Desert darkness. We crept through the opened but unmanned gates at Monument Valley, careful to avoid the ice that covered the dirt road. We pulled off the road and turned off the headlights to let our eyes adjust…and there they were. The three iconic behemoths I'd seen in every Western film. . . . . . . . . . . #bealpha #natgeo #sonyalpha #sonyimages #sonyalphasclub #landscapecaptures #splendidearth #yourshotphotographer #wonderfulplaces #earthofficial #instagood10k #beautifuldestinations #roamtheplanet #exploretocreate #trav3ler #earthescape #sonyphotogallery #nightscape A post shared by Matt K. (@matthewkimble) on Jan 18, 2019 at 11:03am PST
He continues, “That's great, but how do you do that practically? Simply, you just show them that it's possible. Show them beauty. Show them the impossible. Show them the far ends of the earth, and bring back stories that make people stop and wonder if there's more to life than what they're settling for. That, my friends, is being Alpha.”
For the entire group heading to Hawaii, this is a unique experience to drop out of their daily lives and spend a week completely immersed in a creative and collaborative environment.
You can follow along with the group by following the #BeAlphaHawaii hashtag on Instagram and also following each of the creators, the Be Alpha Challenge winners as well as the members of the Alpha Imaging Collective:
#BeAlphaChallenge Winners going to Hawaii:
Nakul Bhatnagar – @nakulbphotog
Ilanit Manor – @imanor
Matthew Kimble – @matthewkimble
Dylan Spitz – @dylanspitz
Jessica Santos – @missjessbess
Alpha Imaging Collective members going to Hawaii:
Stevin Tuchiwsky – @stevint
Gregg Jaden – @gjaden
Erin Sullivan – @erinoutdoors
Rachel Jones Ross – @racheljonesross
Scott Kranz – @scottkranz