At age 13 Alex Cayley took a car cleaning job so he could pay for Italian Vogue. “The guy in the store would have to specially order it for me. I guess it was a bit unusual for a kid from East London,” he recalled. The self-starter taught himself photography while working at ‘Click Studios’, where he was exposed to the best photographers from both the U.K. and the U.S. For the celebrated photographer, striking the right balance is at the core of his aesthetics. “Beauty lies in confidence. But not too much,” explained Mr. Cayley, “having a style is important (but) the images you shoot should be very dependent on the publication”. Perhaps this ground rule is the secret which has kept his images robust with new ideas while maintaining his signature romanticism. A truly original identity in fashion photography, Mr. Cayley has made the biggest strides with his striking images that ran in the biggest titles in the world. His impressive portfolio includes campaigns with revered fashion houses from Kenneth Cole to Yves Saint Laurent. Also celebrities like Ben Affleck, Naomi Watts and Harrison Ford are just a few of the names he lensed.
As the fashion maven looks back his past decade in the creative world, Mr. Cayley shares memories from the thrills of getting his first job at a photo studio to his idea of beauty and aspirations.
MY DAD WAS INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY. He would turn the bathroom into a darkroom when I was a kid so (I) was aware of photography at a young age. Having said that, no-one in my family came from any art or artistic type of background. In terms of fashion photography, I have no idea where that comes from! I got my first job at the age of 18 in a rental photo studio called Click Studios. It was one of the best (there weren't many!) so I got to see a lot of different photographers from both London and the US who would shoot there. It was a great education.
WORKING IN NEW YORK. I assisted in New York in 93+94 and always wanted to move back. I moved back to London to develop my portfolio. Eventually moved back to New York in '99. Someone once said living in New York doesn’t make you a better photographer which I have to agree with but if you work in fashion and want to work it’s not a bad place to be.
THE EARLY ‘90S WAS AN EXCITING TIME. Maybe it was the age I was at but it did feel a bit more adventurous than the present climate. You only have to look at the amount of people in the fashion industry who came out of London during that time to realize the amount of creativity was around - from magazines to photographers to hair and make-up.