We first met Alicia Taylor five years ago on one of our first campaign shoots. Since then we have travelled the world with her, from the Byron Hinterland to Puglia – taking a pitstop at the foothills of Morocco's Atlas Mountains along the way. Alicia is Tigmi’s go-to-photographer, with an almost scientific attention to detail, she never fails to capture the intention behind our collections and has the creative acumen to always deliver ‘the shot’. When Alicia visited us recently to shoot our new arrivals, we sat down with her for a chat about what lead her to photography and how taking a break from her nomadic lifestyle has helped her creatively.
Alicia... Photography, how did that happen?
My grandfather had a camera laying around, that I discovered when I was about Eleven. With a roll of old film still inside, I asked my siblings to pose symmetrically in every frame. Dressing them up in helmets and capes, I had composed my first photographs. My Mum bought me my first camera which was a Pentax K1000, which I shot on it up until I was about twenty-five, and I only had a 50mm lens for the first ten years. I didn’t think I was going to be a photographer, I wanted to be an industrial designer and studied design at RMIT.
During both high school and university my lecturers were encouraging me to be a photographer and I don’t know why but I didn’t think that was where I should be going. And then, I still didn’t quite jump into the art side of it, I began with science photography.
Really, science photography? How did you get in to that?
I was really fascinated by the idea of working with the police and I thought about pursuing forensic photography.
How old were you when you did that?
Twenty-one. In the first year we studied alongside the arts students. There were probably three people in my life, one was a high school teacher, one was a lecturer in design school, and then the other was a lecturer from the arts photography school – they all felt that I should be pursuing photography in a creative sense.
After my degree in photography I moved to Asia for a year, and then England for three years. I assisted some incredible photographers in those three years that I’m still close friends with. When I moved over my first job was working for Jamie Oliver’s photographer David Loftus, it was such a great first job. Initially I thought I would just work as a food photographer, but I fell in love with interiors in England.
I’ve had a wonderful agent for ten years in England, Penny Tattersall, who only just passed last month. Her commitment and faith in my talent helped me grow my business internationally, she’d helped push me further and evolve.
I have a special spot for England, I feel like it’s a country that really gave me the opportunity to be creative – I love it, I love working there.
What would you say is the best part of your work?
Being able to do something I deeply love, and I’ve always been passionate about. Working with a team of people. When somebody has an idea we all work together to create something that people really enjoy. I shoot many genres and like to simplify what I see through the lens. Everything comes back to colour, design and the light. Working with the team at Tigmi has always been so amazing and Danielle and I have always been in sync.
Do you have a routine, or a ritual as you work?
I’m an incredibly logical as a person, quite scientific, I don’t even know if I consciously do it, but I do have a method where I don’t shoot to the computer first. Starting as an analogue photographer gave me the discipline to create as much as possible in camera first. Consider everything before committing to the final frame. I like to break down lighting first, then subject matter, obviously listening to what the brief is and once I’ve got to that point then the client sees the work. And then whilst that’s happening, I do all my checks, exposure checks, make sure I’ve got no warnings or if I need to adjust the lighting in any sense – and focus… obviously the most important one. The natural routine that I’ve always done.
What is the most memorable image you’ve captured?
To be honest, the most enjoyable shots I’ve ever shot are for Tigmi. That is genuine. I really love the locations, the product and the concepts are exactly what makes me happy. I’ve also taken one photo that really moved me of a woman in Hoi An, in Vietnam – I also work as a travel photographer. I saw her on the street, she was in a little yellow cardigan. She had the most fantastic face, and she was sitting in front of a yellow chipped wall. I showed her the camera and asked if I could take her portrait and she immediately smiled. I captured this divine portrait, four years later it was put on Jetstar’s front cover. I printed them as postcards, and a year later I went to the same place, she was sitting in the same spot in the same yellow cardigan and I gave her a copy. Then I met the family she was living with, happened to be the local doctor, he said to me he had adopted her into his family and when she passes, they’ll have this photo as her photo on their wall. This was about eight years ago, and she was probably in her nineties already, what an honour it is to capture someone.
You are Tigmi’s go-to photographer. When did you first meet Tigmi's Director Danielle?
What has been your most favourite Tigmi campaign shoot and why?
There are two, Morocco and Puglia. They were both just significant spaces and the effort that Danielle and the team went to source these incredible locations just really sets them apart. Using their amazing products in incredibly designed spaces has given me the opportunity to capture wonderful images. Morocco, Studio KO’s space was so beautiful! Particularly one of them being the bathroom shot that has gone absolutely gangbusters online.
Yes, I can’t go a day without seeing that photo regrammed on Instagram.
Yes! But, I also thought that Puglia was really quite beautiful. I flew 48 hours, I could hardly stay awake in the taxi. I asked the driver how long the trip would be but he spoke no English, so I had no idea if I had time for a nap. When I arrived at 1am I was instantly awoken by this incredible beauty, standing on hand painted tiles and it felt so inspiring. Was more than happy to get shooting at 7am.
Normally travel is a large part of your work. What has been a positive about having your two feet planted firmly on home soil?
This is the first time in thirteen years that I’ve actually done a full winter in Australia. I have really enjoyed actually being at home. Being more grounded. Creating routine. And essentially being there for my Australian clients more than ever. Being on a plane practically every three weeks to be honest is quite exhausting. I’ve always been the nomad; I’ve always enjoyed that nomadic life and travel is a major part of my life as well as work. But I really think it’s been surprisingly lovely to be home to create that routine.
Who or what would be your greatest photographic inspiration?
There are a lot of photographers I adore; I just love Peter Lindbergh who passed at the end of last year. His work, the way he captured light, the way he captured people so beautifully, particularly women really well, and in a way that had such respect. I know he’s fashion and portraiture, but he’s one of my favourites. Particularly fashion photographers I’ve always really loved, the creativity and storytelling, the way Annie Leibowitz breaks everything down and really researches her clients. She has the budgets to spend time really researching her clients - they would be my inspiration for when I get to do my own projects.
While we're on the topic of your creative projects, have you been working on anything else while you’ve been at home?
That was the other benefit of lockdown, I finished my next series. It hasn’t been named yet but in November I will be having an exhibition at Becker Minty, in Sydney. I have been working on it for two years, but I was finally able to finish it. I have consistently done something creative to challenge my work every year, I only ever get time to do one project. Whether it is to direct something or do a travel shoot. I always try to evolve because what I find significant is, you think you know so much, you think of how much you’ve learnt, and what you can offer clients, but I know that there is just so much more that I am going to learn and that is what makes me really excited that there is so much more out there.
What’s next for you Alicia?
The exhibition. That’s what I’m working on right now. I’ve got my first print, I’m really happy with it. Just getting ready for the show in eight weeks time.
Click HERE to view our latest campaign with Alicia.