There’s a sense of something unspoken, understated, yet sultry and enormously inviting about Alexandra (Lex) Adoncello’s work. It transports you to how that moment feels, beyond just what the place looks like. There’s a James Bond-esque, spy-in-a-foreign-city type of vibe (without the chase scenes). And it makes you feel like you are there.
That’s how we got drawn into Lex’s visual world - from our first glimpses of her captures of Kimo Estate (one to tag for your future regional NSW road trip), to her captures across Cuba, Italy, and regional Australia. A cinematographer and photographer from Sydney, Australia, travel and life intertwines just as naturally as film and photography. She’s a foreign film fanatic. She reveals her love for cut and paste collage. Turns out she also a huge roadtripper, jumping in Django (her Land Rover Defender) for drives along coast for weekends with friends. Her other mode of transport? A motorbike. For the thrilling sensation of freedom.
We take a deep dive beyond Lex’s feed, to learn about her travel story.
Tell us your story Lex. How has travel shaped your life and work?
I’m known as an adventurer, storyteller, observer and dreamer. Always drawn to foreign places, I explore culture through immersion and in turn, travel as a path to exploring oneself. Whether it’s the feeling of isolation, the romance of possibility, the rawness and the overwhelming abundance of beauty — I hope to paint a visual narrative of inner reflection.
On a technical level, I’m proficient as a cinematographer and photographer and centre my work around themes of culture, community, identity and spirituality. Having intense visual curiosity and a love of nature, I strive to create pieces that both explore and inspire.
My work stems from the intersection of past and present: analogue photography was where it all began — the alchemy of the darkroom and the raw and nostalgic feel of a print. The camera became a third eye, a prescribed frame to visually examine deeper meaning.
Through travel, I blur the line between work and life — for me they go hand in hand, each perpetually informs the other. On a surface level, travel pertains itself to discovering new places, finding a sense of freedom or taking time out to relax and rejuvenate — an interlude of unfamiliarity within the common place rhythms of our lives. I think deep within us all we feel that we are essentially made for scorching sunny days to soak our souls, mega midday feasts of new flavours, lazy afternoon siestas and balmy nights that echo to the sound of cicadas.
However, on deeper levels, I find that travel allows us to develop cultural empathy, accelerate our ability to become better global citizens, and more notably, allow us the chance to enrich our emotional intelligence, offering us a reason to re-enchant ourselves with the occupation of living. For me, immersing ourselves in foreign places enables us to tap into foreign aspects of our own minds; ones that are subject to the routines and rituals of our quotidian lives.
To put it simply, travel is a method of transforming our lives.
What country has been the most memorable for you?
Italy. Likely because I have Italian blood running through my veins so there’s a profound connection and sense of home. I first visited when I was 21. It was on the back end of a 9 month trip in the Mediterranean. I’d arrived in Venice at sunset, hopped on a Vaporetto to meet the Airbnb guest (which I only booked an hour earlier during the train ride in), dumped my bag and sat by the canals to watch the sunset.
There was music in the alleys, the smell of pizza in the air, the locals spoke in a spirited way, with a sense of song— and the ocean stretched out for miles. Overwhelmed with emotion, I shed a ton of happy tears, because I felt like I’d found a new home away from home.
I’ve since been back to Italy three times, and the love only grows stronger. Practicing my Italian, I plan to live and work there in the coming years.
What does ‘being real’ mean to you? In your own travel content, and in the travel content that you look for?
Being real is to present the most authentic version of yourself not just outwardly, but inwardly. It’s about being congruent with thought and action — being mindful, respectful and kind. No matter one’s age, we’re all experiencing the ongoing process of uncovering what’s percolating deep within us.
Through my work, my drive is to create purposeful and emotionally charged pieces, rooted in my belief that images speak to the soul of the viewer and are shaped by a passion for beauty, a heart for story and thought provoking imagery. And while I can recognise the value of aesthetics, I’m a firm believer that at the end of the day, authentic storytelling is paramount.
What role do you think travel plays in bringing together different cultures — both offline and online?
When we look at a map, we encapsulate the whole globe on one plain and in doing so, realise how small it is! Travel is the bridge that connects us all. In order to bring together different cultures, we must understand one another and to understand one other, interaction is essential. There is huge value placed here in the face of rapid globalisation.
There are so many cultural crossroads, but the stand out for me has always been Art as I feel it can be universally understood. Art binds. It brings people together physically and virtually — at galleries, museums, performance spaces, online — and culturally, through its capacity to tell a community’s shared story, to encourage reflection, inspire new thought and form connections that transcend differences.
In our current climate it feels especially important to better understand each other, appreciate interaction and contribute to community in order to become better global citizens and make the world more rounded.
In collecting photographs, I collect pieces of the world.
Who do you love following for their real travel stories?
I couldn’t pick just three, these ones all have such a unique eye!
This is part of Not Just A Pretty Feed, our Q&A series with creators across the world, uncovering their unique and diverse travel stories. We learn how travel has shaped their lives, influenced their work, and what being real in the world of travel content means to them. Continue the journey with Australian cultural and music photographer, Renae Saxby.