Alexandra Leese now lives and works in London, but there’s a second city thousand of miles away which the photographer calls home. “I am half-Chinese half-English: born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 11 when I came to the UK with my sister for school,” she tells us. “I ended up staying in the UK after school and applying for a fine art degree at Chelsea College of Art. I did my foundation year there with the intention of being a portrait painter.”
Up until to that point, Alex hadn’t considered photography as an avenue for creativity. “I hadn’t really ever taken photographs seriously: I had a shitty digital camera to take pictures of people for my paintings. However I was lucky enough to have a great tutor who saw my potential in photography. I bought a 35mm film camera from Portobello with her encouragement and never looked back.”
Having changed her degree, Alexandra went to LCF to study fashion photography. Now, as a fashion and portrait photographer shooting for the likes of _i-D, V magazine, Heroine_,_Vogue Italia, King Kong and many more, Alex’s painterly background sticks in her natural ability to sculpt the bodies of her subjects into shapes which resonate with a loose, lounging elegance. Take her recent shoot for Heroine styled by Mushpit’s Charlotte Roberts: a lesson in ‘who-me?’ posing.
“I still go back regularly to Hong Kong and to see my family,” Alex says. “I love having that bridge between two cultures.” Embracing her dual heritage, Alex tells us that she is currently working on a “really interesting personal project back home in Hong Kong” which she is trying to turn into a publication and an exhibition. “I’ve really enjoyed this whole process and would love to work on more art based/ personal projects alongside my fashion work,” she says. “It is becoming one of my favourite things I’ve ever done to date!”
As for work she can talk freely about, Alex tells us that she “really loved the i-D shoot I did for Hong Kong brand Yat Pit. It felt quite personal to me, celebrating Chinese culture and using such beautiful incredible street casted people as the models, most of who were friends or friends of friends.”