London-based travel and lifestyle photographer Alixe Lay continues to craft her photography by capturing breathtaking scenes and frequently delivering an unmatched aesthetic. From Edinburgh’s secret bookshops to boarding the Eastern & Oriental Express, every image is a masterpiece laced with an invitation to embark on a sensational adventure through Lay’s lens. Accompanying adventure, Lay’s unique aesthetic is now instantly discernible among London’s photography scene and has even captured the attention of global brands. From the first time she picked up a camera to how her perspective has recently changed because of lockdown, Lay gives MSM an exclusive snapshot of her world…
Tell us about how you got started in photography.
I was gifted a DSLR camera by my parents when I was 16 and since then have enjoyed photography as an amateur for a long time, documenting travels and daily life. It wasn't until 2015 when I discovered a community of people who love photography on Instagram that I started to really experiment with different subjects and styles. Back then I was studying in Bath which is one of the most beautiful heritage cities in the world, naturally architecture became a key subject of my photography. Five years down the road, I have eventually found my voice in the area of travel and lifestyle.
You have an incredible aesthetic. How would you describe your own aesthetic and what inspires it?
I'd say my aesthetic is dark, moody, other-worldly and atmospheric, with predominantly deep, rich and warm colours. When I started to take photography more seriously, I lived in the city centre of Bath and used to shoot almost every day as there was an abundance of beauty right in front of my doorstep. That period of time living in Bath had a huge influence on how my style has taken shape and evolved. Many elements of my style were inspired by the warm and natural colour palette of Bath, the almost always rainy and moody weather in England and the texture of Bathstone typically used in Georgian architecture in the city. After having moved to London, I continued to shoot a lot of architecture, with a focus on historical buildings and design focused interiors. The atmosphere of the places I choose to capture often give a sense of drama featuring light and shadow play.
Tell us your favorite shooting experience so far and why that is your favorite?
I went to Myanmar for the first time in 2019, and it was the most incredible experience photographing this mystical country. As I'm so used to shooting British and European architecture, it was extremely refreshing to shoot something completely different. It was such a stimulation to my senses, I was so fascinated by everything that I saw and felt compelled to document everything. I was very moved by the Burmese landscapes and way of life that were so pure and beautiful; it was so special that I felt my only mission while I was there was simply to capture these moments in the best way I could and to share them with other people.
With quarantine, has your viewpoint changed? Do you find yourself looking at things differently or imagining your shots differently?
It's a really strange time that we live in, the lockdown has certainly had a profound effect on me. During the past four months I've been lucky to have a lot of free time to read up on different subjects and many of these books have been life-changing. That, and the solitude; they have reignited a sense of childlike curiosity in me. I've started to pay attention and notice all the small things in life and find comfort in fleeting moments of joy. Moving forward, I'm going to be incorporating more openness and mindfulness in my process.
Your work has been featured in CN Traveller and you shot incredible photos for iconic venues (sketch, London), and brands (Eastern & Oriental Express) – what is next for you? And who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I'm going to be returning home to Malaysia for the rest of the year, and hopefully travel to places I haven't been but have always wanted to in Malaysia. There are so many great destinations in Malaysia, and there is truly no better time to visit them than now. It would also be an amazing experience to rediscover my roots and learn more about my home country and my culture from a fresh perspective after having been away for seven years. I'd love to continue my long-term partnerships with some of my favourite brands such as Penhaligon's, Leica and Belmond, and hopefully expand my work with other design-lead luxury hotels as well as travel destinations in Europe and Asia with a focus on history and culture.
Written By: Sandy Aziz
Images By: Alixe Lay