Young talent – Annie Lai


Every now and then Instagram gives us something interesting and positive. On Tuesday 26th June the media folk at Creative Review posted this intriguing photograph by a new young talented photographer, Annie Lai.

The post informs us that Annie (for those of you who might want to have a peak on Instagram she’s @annielai_) has only recently graduated from the London College of Fashion. She grew up in China, but spent her High School years in New Zealand, before taking up her place to study photography in London. I can see why Creative Review chose to feature her work as there is a hint of a retro quality about it yet overall it is most definitely new contemporary work.

Creative-review2Looking at this fashion photograph I feel I should grab my Art Historian’s hat and immediately delve into the world of Roland Barthes to consider why I am so taken with this image. Although it is not a blatantly emotionally charged photograph, I think its composition, tone and framing, and crisp lighting is engaging us more than the average fashion photo. I think it has both studium and punctum. Naturally, this is a subjective view and in Barthes’ musings on photography he suggests you can be interested in a photograph (studium) without it having that special quality/effect he called punctum:

A photograph's punctum is that accident which 
pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me). 
Rolande Barthes 
from 'Camera Lucida - Reflections on Photography'1980

After considering why, for me, the photo has pricked me, I think it is very personal. Overtly, it has made me recall images of Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick that were splashed across the magazines from my childhood. Then, in a fleeting drift of linking memories radiating out from this recollection I arrived at recalling my childish thrill at wearing some new orange sandals. My sister and I had accompanied my mother on a visit to a home hairdresser. It had been a very hot day and she had dressed us in matching homemade turquoise and green paisley print mini-dresses. And, I got to wear my new sandals. Amongst the many events of childhood, a random moment on a random day was caught to become a poignant memory for me and it has been strangely evoked by this 21st century fashion photo.

As far as my own attempts at fashion photography go I think I have captured one decent shot in the last 1,000. Again, it’s all subjective, but I think this photograph probably works for more than just me as it is one of my popular pics on Instagram.

Walkies copy

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

14 thoughts on “Young talent – Annie Lai”

  1. Well, of COURSE I love your photo. And the enigmatic elfin quality of the subject. She’s cut her hair, which is interesting. It throws me back to how those young women in the 20s must have felt, cutting off their traditional long locks, and letting the fragility of the moment shine through with that wide-eyed, slightly uncertain, look that your daughter evokes in this pic.

    1. And, thank you too Gwen. Actually the stylist at the Vidal Sassoon School (free for models) who cut my daughter’s hair said she loved the 20s look. And, well, mmm, my daughter and her hair πŸ™„ – it’s a long ongoing very boring saga these days. She has now had the whole lot permed!!!! πŸ™„πŸ™„

  2. I also love your own photo! And what a thoughtful analysis of the personal memories that the Instagram photo catalyzed for you. For me, the charm of Annie Lai’s photos lies partly in the ways the subjects photographed combine the stark minimalism of their haircuts with such dynamism of the fabric’s flow and movement.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Yes, sometimes a response is very personal, but I also agree with your point about the minimalism and dynamism combination. It is so often the visual contrasts within an image that lift a photograph above the norm isn’t it?

  3. I used to go to Vidal Sassoon school also when I lived in London. Helped stretch those wages a little further. As for hair changes, I’m the last to criticise. Never / can’t keep mine the same. Currently I’m chestnut (with grey highlights) and letting it get longer again.

    1. Yes, you guessed it. She went to save money and then as she was only one of a handful of youngsters on that particular day and was prepared to go for ‘the perm’ she got the whole hairdo for free!!! There were lots of photos taken by the students, now all over Instagram and a little round of applause when she was unveiled at the end!!!
      And, who said you should keep the same hairstyle all the time? There is something a bit strange about a lifetime of the same hair don’t you think – like Anna Wintour? Control freakery.

      1. Ah yes, but if you’ve perfected that Anna Wintour look it’s shades of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s become her signature. Whereas my signature is “what has she done to her hair today?” πŸ™‚

      2. I sort of agree with the perfected signature idea, but unfortunately nobody can withstand the the ravages of time and I am afraid I think a fixed ‘look’ can end up accentuating the aged and haggard appearance. Much better to be you with the ‘what has she done’ fun!

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