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Life & Work with Alex Gambill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Gambill.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
Although originally from Kansas City, MO, I moved at a young age to the small town of Troy, MO – NW of St. Louis. Growing up in a small town, I often found myself passing the time by discovering new hobbies, exploring, and occasionally quite literally watching paint dry. My passion for filmmaking and photography began when I was 11-12 when I made my first black and white home video on a family vacation. My brothers and dad starred as the malicious cowboy outlaws trying to rob my sister, the damsel in distress. This western thriller kickstarted my interest in the movie-making process. I eventually discovered home movie making through this Odyssey-like quest to find my niche.

As I entered my middle school years at Troy R-III, my school district hosted an “Inspiring Minds” competition, for which I was encouraged to submit something. The competition rules were fairly open; participants could write a poem, tell a story, draw a cartoon, etc. Any form of media could answer the prompt: “Technology in the Classroom.” I was hesitant at first. I possessed a truly astonishing lack of artistic skill for drawing/painting, and many of my short stories as a kid had the linguistic flow of a cereal box nutrition facts label. However, there was one media option listed that caught my eye: Make a Video. This was a completely new concept; what did I know about filmmaking outside my living room?? I had filmed a couple of random shots on my new, top-of-the-line iPhone 4, but my abilities surely stood no match against the high schoolers that would also be competing in this challenge.

Nonetheless, I decided to go for it. I gathered a couple of my friends, Luke Mattingly and Thomas Skouby, and begged my mom to let me use her FlipVideo camcorder, a titan of video technology at the time. Motivated by the encouragement of our 6th-grade science teacher, Mrs. Heather Creech, we worked on our video, which included exaggerated fonts, excessive graphics, and poor audio quality. We finished editing the video and submitted it literally within minutes of the deadline. At the time, we were blown away by how good our video had turned out; of course, now I look back on it with a hint of cringe.

The summer months passed as we waited anxiously to see if we had won the $150 grand prize. Then, I received a call one day from the School District Public Relations Manager, April Bryant (another incredible person I met on my journey). She informed us we had won! We were overjoyed as we were invited to have our video shown at the annual Back-to-School bash hosted for all of the teachers and staff of the school district! Myself, Luke, and Thomas walked out in front of the entire body of the school district employees and received our grand prize! This was all it took for me to get hooked!

The remainder of middle school was full of short films, home videos, and quick flicks that filled my cast and crew with friends, siblings, and cousins. I saved for what felt like an eternity to purchase my Canon VIXIA HF R500 for $400. Eventually, we realized we could make money doing what we loved. So, Luke and I entered into a business partnership in the 9th grade and established the first iteration of our media company: “Adaptive Content.” We specialized in local business advertisements and YouTube tutorials; because every kid my age wanted to be a YouTube star. We struggled to find work for quite some time since we were new to the industry and had a non-existent portfolio. It didn’t help we were only 15. We filmed for schools, churches, organizations, small businesses, and just about anyone that would let us film. However, in January of 2017, they contacted us about filming a wedding. This was an avenue of video work that we had never considered before. Luke and I spent months researching, watching wedding films, taking notes, etc.

That 2017 wedding was the push we needed. We found our niche. Years went by as we did a few more weddings here and there, we absorbed hours of YouTube guides and self-taught about everything we knew. Throughout high school, Luke and I continued to grow Adaptive Content and worked to build our portfolio. However, as we neared high school graduation, we realized it would not be easy to continue the venture into college. It wasn’t the easiest company to run remotely and maintain a clear focus. So, after we graduated in the Spring of 2019, I bought out Luke’s half of the company and put the entire operation into hibernation. The company collected dust while I worked through my first year of college; it had been a past I had somewhat forgotten as I focused on my Civil Engineering studies at Missouri S&T. Then, in 2020, in an almost beautifully ironic way, I was once again contacted by a couple asking about filming their wedding ceremony. Since this was the height of COVID-19, weddings were not exactly a hot topic. The couple wanted a way to share their ceremony with their family safely. I happily obliged and dusted off my camera. I showed up the day of the wedding to discover the attendees were myself, the photographer, the couple, and the officiant. The moment that I signed their wedding certificate as a witness to the marriage was the moment I realized it was time I restarted the venture.

I re-launched the company under a new name: “Notable Imagery.” Including a line-up of new ideas, media, and a plan to use social media’s many new features created since had put the original company to rest. I wanted to recreate the same powerful moments I saw in those hours of wedding films Luke and I used to study. Since then, I have continued to grow my passion and improve the techniques of capturing every little moment. It took some adjustment, but I have managed to balance the business on the weekends and full-time Civil Engineering student status on the weekdays. I have been fortunate to work alongside several industry professionals such as Claire Forrest Films, Matthew Jay Films, and many more. I have learned more than I could ever dream from them and could not begin to thank them for taking this college kid under their wing.

Present day, I continue to grow the business and film weddings (and occasionally other commercial projects) every chance I get. There is something special about traveling all over the country and meeting so many amazing people. This venture has turned into how I pay my way through school. I am so grateful to all the couples who have allowed me to join them on their special day and immortalize the memory!

(Apologies if that was too long of a “walk through”)

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It certainly was not a smooth road, but I have been fortunate enough to have incredibly supportive parents and family that continue to motivate me. I am still fairly young and new to the industry, so I have yet to experience too many challenges or issues. The elephant in the room, COVID-19, was a challenge for everyone, and the wedding industry was not spared. It was a slow year or two as I was attempting to ramp up the new company while also dealing with an incredibly stagnant market. This struck hard as I had just sunk much of my savings into purchasing new equipment and updating my supplies after they had been untouched for several years and thus were heavily outdated, which was challenging as a broke college kid. Overall, I am grateful for the experiences and the chance to learn from them. I truly wouldn’t do it any other way!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I own and operate a wedding/event videography business that specializes in capturing couples’ special days! I do plenty of commercial jobs on the side for many local businesses in my hometown. This is an aspect I am particularly proud of as I get a chance to make a promotional video for these businesses that could drastically improve their outreach. I have been fortunate to work with several wedding video/photo professionals and have gained priceless knowledge and experiences during that time! I pride myself on offering these video services at low prices relative to much of the industry; as a college kid, I have very little overhead, so it seemed like a natural choice! As a young kid, I still want to do my best to help wherever I can to capture those notable moments!

What matters most to you? Why?
The notable moments. Whether that is family and friends in my life or strangers that hire me to film their wedding, the very foundation of those relationships is built on notable moments in life. Fishing with grandpa, robotics competitions with friends, and Christmas at grandma’s are iconic memories that are the foundation of my personal life. I accept that it is my job to capture moments of similar magnitude for those couples, particularly those moments at weddings, and turn them into a film that the couple can watch for years. That film is a testament and a reminder of the day these two people started their lives together.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
All my own pictures.

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