TH: First off can we get a little intro for the people who may not be familiar? Name, Age, Homebase and occupation?

ALEX: My name is Alex Maeland. I'm Korean-American. I'm actually based in Hong Kong at the moment, but originally from Atlanta where I've lived for over 20 years. I work as the Creative Director for HYPEBEAST.com when I'm not taking first person pics of sneakers haha.

TH: Your Instagram pictures are some of the highest quality shots you will ever see. What do you use as your main setup?

ALEX: At first, it was just done with my iPhone 4 at the time. Now I take a bit more time with it and I use a Canon 5D Mark II with a Prime 40mm f/2.8 Lens to give it a nice depth of field.

TH: Not only are your Instagram shots super clean but they all share the same common theme and pose which is why your named @sneakerhand. Where did the idea come from? So simple yet so effective.

ALEX: Originally I started the whole "Sneakerhand" concept off a style that I just wanted to do to show some new sneakers that I got. At first I just did it on my personal Instagram @alexmaeland to give myself a way to just photo some new shoes that I got.

I think that Instagram is inherently a personal experience. It started as that. Something instant. So, despite using "higher end' photography now, I think it still needs to retain that first person, personal feel - otherwise, it starts to lose a bit of its original voice.

TH: What was your favorite release from 2013?

ALEX: There's actually been a lot of good ones this year. I think I have been feeling the Air Jordan 1 Retro "Breds" that came out in December.

TH: If you were a nike exec for the day what specific shoe would you retro immediately and why?

ALEX: Haha, this may not be the best answer, but I would immediately retro the Air Jordan 3 Retro Black/Red "Cements". Although they recently retroed these, I've consistently slept on these through the years and just recently decided I needed them for my collection.

TH: What has been the toughest shoe to get a hold of in your current collection and why?

ALEX: The Nike SB Dunk Low "Tiffany". But, the weird thing is, although it was so hard to get for so many years, I was able to access it through a close friend of mine who was just casually selling off all of his sneakers and let them go to me for the low.

TH: Of all the materials used on sneakers nowadays (leather, suede, patent leather, elephant print, cement print, etc.) which one makes you have to buy a certain pair and why?

ALEX: I love anything leather period. So regardless of how that is executed (full grain, pebbled, with a classic print, etc.) it's hard for me to deny when I see a nice leather, well executed on a pair of shoes.

TH: Besides shoes what's your biggest guilty pleasure?

ALEX: I've actually been getting into watches a lot lately. They're definitely more of an investment that sneakers, but it has a similar allure for me as I get a bit older and the depth and history of the watch industry is so extensive and interesting.

TH: What one thing bothers or bugs you the most about the current state of the sneaker game?

ALEX: I think it's always such an expected thing to see "OG sneakerheads" criticizing the new state of the sneaker game. While I don't think everything is perfect in its current status, I also think it's important to keep an open mind to general change - this holds true to anything.

I think that most of the "sneaker game" and the culture was built off the strength of small boutiques, local sneaker retailers and the "little independent guys." And now, as the sneaker game has grown and it's become more of a stand alone industry in-and-of itself, these big brands are alienating the little guys and making it hard for them to subsist simply to cater to big box chains and drive their bottom line.

Now the same small retailers that helped establish a brand's identity in the "lifestyle sneaker" sector, are suffering because big brands are hurting their business by either widening the chain of distribution, forcing them out of the e-commerce channels or a plethora of other tactics. It's a shame.

TH: What was the one shoe that sparked your interest in the sneaker game?

ALEX: My initial interest in sneakers was sparked at a young age when I would cruise through the Eastbay catalog and circle the shoes I wanted so I could play basketball in them. I think it was the OG Gary Payton "The Glove" or the Scottie Pippen "Uptempo" that was one of my most coveted from that era. And now, anytime I see them make a comeback, it brings all those memories back.

TH: What is your #1 influence when you pick and choose your sneaker choices?

ALEX: Mostly nostalgia. I like to think that I have personally moved beyond the hype and peer pressure and I mostly spend my spare cash on sneakers that I either 1. would actually wear within my current wardrobe or 2. that bring back a lot of nostalgia or memories from past years. But, in general, I don't spend money anymore on sneakers that I won't actually wear.

TH: What's your favorite specific shoe/colorway from the following categories? Jordan, Nike Basketball, Lebron, Nike SB, New balance.

ALEX: Air Jordan: Jordan 4 Nike Basketball: I guess the Nike "The Glove" counts? It's still one of my favorites for sure. Lebron: I actually really like the latest Lebron XI because of the level of technology involved in it Nike SB: The Classic SB Dunk (Both Low and High) New Balance: I love the New Balance 999. Classic and so wearable.

TH: Any last words for the people out there?

ALEX: Don't believe the hype!!

TH: Where can everyone find you on social media?

ALEX: My personal Instagram is @alexmaeland. My website/photography blog is: alexmaeland.com and follow @sneakerhand on IG as well.

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