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Work / Photography

Lucy Alex Mac’s bizarre, comedic portrait photography avoids “pretty for pretty’s sake”

The work of Teeside-born, London-based photographer Lucy Alex Mac has a uniquely raw, comedic edge. “I’m quite obsessed by people,” she explains, “so they’re always at the forefront of my photography. I’m not very good at shooting pretty for pretty’s sake; I like to have something more to work with. And I think humour is one of the main ways I deal with life, so that probably comes through in my images.”

Like many, Lucy began her path to a creative career via an art foundation course and, at a fork in the road between choosing to pursue photography or fashion, she chose fashion. After studying for a degree in Fashion Print at Central Saint Martins, in her final tutorial a tutor pointed out that Lucy “was obviously more interested in magazines than design”.

“I had bound all my research – including loads of photos – into a book, and I was far more proud of that than any of the clothes I had made,” she says. “It took someone pointing out that I had other options to give me the confidence to switch from something I’d been studying for four years, to photography, which I knew very little about.”

It is perhaps this naivety and informal induction that gives Lucy fresh perspective. She picked up experience and skills in her new discipline while working for Rankin as a creative: working on set, coming up with concepts for shoots, but mainly looking at mountains of imagery on a day-to-day basis, which she believes helped to “hone my likes and dislikes”. On the side she began to shoot personal projects, which turned to editorial and commercial work, and now she counts Buffalo Zine, Replica, Paper Journal, Coach, Man About Town and i-D as clients.

For Replica, she worked with Rottingdean Bazaar on a fun shoot with pole dancer Andrew; she also collaborated with the fashion designers on a recent i-D shoot which she thinks taps into her and the studio’s “lighthearted approach to things. Also, Andrew Gallimore’s make up is insane – I could’ve watched him applying fake blood all day.” For Buffalo she photographed Zandra Rhodes in her apartment – “a photographer’s dream” as Lucy describes – which erred on the side of documentary as opposed to straight fashion editorial, which lends Lucy’s images their honesty. Next she’s shooting a series of short film documentaries that uses stills in an interesting way. “If you liked the Replica pole dancer shoot, watch this space…” she teases. Oh, we will.

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