15 Sublime Photos That Capture Life's Most Fragile Moments

Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
What makes a good photographer? Well, if it has anything to do with being able to capture the human spirit in its most vulnerable state, then 21-year-old Alex Stoddard is one hell of a photographer.

One glimpse at his photos and it's clear that the Los Angeles-based lensman, who was named one of Flickr's 20 Under 20 photographers last year, has some next-level creativity. Moody, moving, and at times creepy, many of his images bring to life some of our most powerful emotions — resilience, heartbreak, hope — while others are intended to spin a fantastical story.

"I would describe my photography as being very dark and narrative-based," he tells us. "I strive to balance beauty with meaning."

As for how Stoddard crafts such fascinating imagery? He says it's all in the details: "It takes a lot of time and contemplation for an idea to fully develop. My strongest images are very planned and considered before I even begin to put the pieces in place or begin shooting."

Click through to peek 15 stunning snaps and delve into his world of magical realism.
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
Bombs On Monday
"This image depicts a girl struggling to cope with her world crumbling around her," Stoddard says. "It is meant to show a resilience in the face of adversity."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
The Journey A Soul Must Take When Its Body Has Failed
"In this self-portrait, I strove to capture the feeling one experiences when one’s body is weaker than his mind," he says. "Despite the desperate will to continue on his life’s journey, his body just can’t keep pace and ultimately fails."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
A Flower That Opens At Night
"This photograph depicts the sense of hope that endures on, even though the darkness is closing in on all sides," he explains.
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
In The Wake Of Thunder
"This is one image from a series of seven created that day," he says. "I played around with gothic ideas and drew inspiration from the dense fog that poured in that morning to create a story around a girl experiencing a string of unusual events in the wake of a cataclysmic event — single, chaotic moments frozen in time by the camera’s shutter."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
St. Valentine
"This was a more personal image than most I create," he says. "Rather than building a concept around a specified location or prop or subject, I started with an emotion — and, a complicated one at that. It is the feeling of loving someone who, despite all of their reciprocated love, is hurting you at the same time, and the difficulty in determining if that love is worth enduring all of that hurt."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
The Animals
"This is an image drawing inspiration from classic horror films and modern takes on those classics," he says. "I created this at an abandoned house in one of Oregon’s small towns, notorious for its string of murders. I felt a very strong, negative presence and an almost tangible, dark history around me while exploring the premises, and I fed on that energy, transforming it instead into inspiration."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
Counting Breaths
"This is an image portraying the experience of withdrawing into oneself and away from the rest of the world for a short moment to collect oneself," he says. "I am often overwhelmed by social interaction and the pace of the world around me, so I relish the time I am able to be alone, recuperate, and find my center again."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
A Destructive Force
"This is more of a storytelling image rather than one meant to capture a human emotion," he says. "Its ambiguity and mystery is meant to leave the viewer questioning if the man has sinister intentions or is, perhaps, shielding the young girl from a more sinister sight altogether."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
The Depths Won’t Hold Me
"This image illustrates an unwavering perseverance in the face of tragedy," he says. "The inspiration comes from my own darkest moments and my decision to fight through them rather than being swallowed whole."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
Tiny Fluttering Wings
"This is a piece of a greater story that depicts the well-known tale of an ancient witch capturing a young girl walking through the forest," he says. "She intends to steal away the girl’s soul so that she can regain her own youth."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
The Spark
"This is the intense, electric moment when you meet your soul mate," he says. "It is almost like a literal bolt of lightning as the rest of the world falls away into darkness, and your every sense is electrified by the presence of this other individual."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
"This character lives in the hazy world of dreams," he says. "I've always associated myself with the term 'daydreamer.' My mind is constantly churning out new worlds and ideas, and sometimes it is hard to leave that comfortable place of imagination and face the real world."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
"This is meant to show the climax of a dramatic transformation," he says. "The woman is erupting from the darkness in a shower of sparks and fire, a glorious creature being born of shadow. I drew a lot of inspiration for this from those scenes in Disney movies like Cinderella or The Princess and the Frog, where the protagonist would undergo some kind of transfiguration — usually into a big ball gown as they kiss their prince."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
Spoiled Rotten
"This is yet another photo with origins in a story rather than an emotion. It is part of an ongoing series featuring birds, children, and the inherent darkness of childhood."
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Stoddard.
The Collector
"I wanted to create a photograph around Halloween that encompassed the creepy and dark parts of the holiday that I enjoy," he says. "Finding inspiration in the costumes that children wore long ago, before everything became commercialized — homemade masks and burlap sacks — I created this character who drags around the Halloween spirits that she collects during the season."