Alex Strohl and Andrea Dabene, on documenting life
September 12, 2017
Words: Helene Ravlich/
Photos: Alex Strohl and Andrea Dabene
It has been said that photographer Alex Strohl “documents life”. He and his wife and work partner Andrea Dabene create authentic moments and capture them as they unfold, which led quite naturally to an inspired collaboration with Icebreaker. Alex’s work has also featured in prestigious publications such as Forbes, Vanity Fair, and Gentleman's Journal.
Alex: We are at home in Montana, in the USA.
Andrea: We just got back home after two and a half months of travel around Europe to places like The Swiss Alps and the French Basque Country – a bit of work and a bit of vacation in each place.You are both French and clearly at home in Europe as well as the US. How did you come to settle in Montana?
Alex: I spent a summer in the US when I was 11 years old, and became obsessed by the idea of living here one day. I was staying with my aunt in Los Angeles and came home with blue hair and a skateboard, determined that I would move to the city and make movies when I was older.
My journey took me there eventually, after I spent time studying in Quebec and then living with Andrea in Vancouver before we moved to LA in 2014. It was so not the place I wanted to be in anymore, so we started looking for holiday houses in Montana for the winter and, after moving here, pretty much never left.
Andrea: We divide the work pretty evenly. If we are both shooting then we shoot very different things – Alex is more of the adventure guy, whilst I take care of detail.How did you initially come to work with Icebreaker, and what was that like?
Alex: The team had seen some of our work online and reached out to us. I think what grabbed them was a portrait I had taken of Andrea in Norway, after we spent the day out in an Atlantic storm. I think they liked that we could produce work that wasn’t as ‘staged’ as the usual catalogue, and it was the first time they had shot un-tethered, without lots of laptops around or anything like that. When the models showed up we actually made them go hiking for real, not just pose like they were walking a trail.
Andrea: I think it was quite hard for the models at first. They are usually just waiting for direction, and we wanted them to experience things. The first day was a little hard but after that they were fantastic.
“We come from nature, and no matter where our daily lives lead us we all need to come back every so often, even for just a day.”
Andrea: My dad is an outdoors man and has worn the Icebreaker Base Layers for years, so I was definitely familiar with that part of the collection.
Alex: My first meeting with the brand was when I was in Quebec preparing for an adventure to Newfoundland. It was 2009 and I needed to keep warm so I bought some merino long johns and some socks and they were the best thing ever. Icebreaker socks are still the only socks I will wear! I’m also a huge fan of the Cool-Lite™ T-shirts. Recently my luggage was delayed on a trip for ten days, so I wore the same Cool-Lite™ shirt for that most of that and I could have kept going, it breathes well.When you came to New Zealand to shoot for Icebreaker, was it your first trip?
Andrea: Yes, but we had wanted to come here for so long. New Zealand is intriguing.
Alex: I am really attracted to islands because I like to feel isolated, and New Zealand definitely feels like that. But you have a great coffee culture too, which is a bonus.
Andrea: It had to be Mount Nicholas Station, a sheep farm on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. It was just so unexpected. We got there very early in the morning so it was still dark, and I was just so excited as I really love sheep!
Alex: That was my favourite place too. Just watching the sun rising and revealing the mountains – there is nothing else around.Did you have a favourite piece of Icebreaker clothing on the FW17 shoot?
Andrea: A Base Layer top and pants in grey with stripes. It was just so cosy and comfortable.
Alex: A black and green jacket that zips half way through, like a running piece. The only insulation is in the core and the sleeves are like a wool shirt. It is perfect for skiing too.Finally, what does nature mean to you?
Alex: For me it’s a place that we are all drawn to. We come from nature, and no matter where our daily lives lead us we all need to come back every so often, even for just a day. Nature is a necessity.
Andrea: I’m a very anxious person and nature is where I can go and find myself again. It is soothing and healing and grounds me straight away.