Last month we caught up with London based, Malaysian photographer and student, Alia Soraya.
22 year old, Alia is currently studying fashion photography at London College of Fashion and divides her time between Kuala Lumpur and London. We recently spoke to Alia about where she finds inspiration and her unique perspective on South Asian cultures. With her intimate interpretation of Malaysian youth culture, you can find a beautiful blend of traditional fashions and modern compositions in her photography. Alia recently launched her latest digital zine, Mula Zine, in the UK, which supports other young creatives with the encouragement of creative freedoms and confidence. Spending the summer in Malaysia, Alia is currently working on Mula Malaysia to support local creatives in her homeland, collaborating with young creatives with the aim to create new and exciting directions in photography and art. You can keep up with Alia's beautifully curious photography via social media @aliaonphotographs and follow MULA Zine here!
Properly, for about 2 years now. Initially, for leisure time to really find what interests me, but now I’m sure that this is what I want to do.
When did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
I can’t say photography was the main thing I wanted to do. Initially, I wanted to get into creative direction but I thought it would be better to get a degree in fashion photography and maybe come back with something different. I’ve always been dependent on one to one methods when it comes to learning physical practices. I’ve never been good at learning via youtube. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned when it comes to certain things. When I saw photographers that I follow on Instagram curating a photoshoot and I immediately thought, yes — that’s what I want to be doing. To communicate with people via photos.
We noticed the film photography framed around your house, could you explain the history of photography in your family?
We’re hoarders for photos. I have a room in my house that’s filled with photo albums only. My mother is a collector of photos. She keeps everything from my grandparents’ wedding to her wedding, baby photos, first graduation picture and everything else. I dislike the fact that printed photos aren’t very appreciated now. My aunt prints every family photo we send in our WhatsApp group. So when I'm back from London, I come home to a photo album entitled “WhatsApp” and I forget what I sent them. Haha!
Is there a key point in your life that helped shape your eye in photography?
We all capture images differently and now that everything is, more or less, digitalised, people have the ability to practice their hobby and create anything they want. When I was a teenager, I loved scrapbooking. I love making collages and layering photos on top of each other. Every photo layered on top of each other gives and tells a different story. I used to take pictures of my siblings and the things we collected and print them to publish a scrapbook. I still have dozens of them in my room. I believe there’s a point where you need to pass images on to family members and I’m always looking for images that hold multiple meanings. Hence, I always capture images no matter how bad they are. Candid or staged. Other than that, the influence of Dazed, i-D and local magazines from the 90s really taught me what I could do with photos and what I wanted it to portray.
How do you think the mix of London influences in a Malaysian household shaped the person you are today?
Creatively, I’m more confident in my art. I'm more expressive, there’s definitely a gradual change compared to how I approach my subjects compared to before. I used to be so afraid to communicate with my models and direct them because I wasn’t sure, myself, of what I wanted to achieve from the photo. So anything they would do and I would just say, that's fine when initially I wanted something else. But now after being exposed to so many different people and cultures — I have grown more comfortable with embracing my own intuition. I’m now more sure of my objectives behind every photo and every face I capture. Physically, I’m still getting used to living abroad. Its been a year, and I’m still adapting. I grew up in a very conservative environment, which I became comfortable with. Being in London — a culturally creative centric industry and country, I really had to make adjustments to my routine. All in all, I love both cities and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Both have shaped me into the individual I am today.
How would you describe your influences in photography?
Loud, yet minimalistic. I like exploring the movement of the body. I guess, all round, experimental.
Where do you hope to take your photography?
Where it truly belongs. I’ll know it when it reaches there. For now, I’m comfortable.