Exposure: Annie Lai

In her latest Exposure column, Gem Fletcher profiles the poetic, dreamlike portraiture of Annie Lai, whose image-making aims to unpick complex issues around belonging

There is a poetic quality to Annie Lai’s work. Her portraiture and fashion photography exudes rhythm and precision. A dreamlike ease takes over, holding the viewer in a serene space to unpick complex issues around belonging, struggle and the search for connection.

Lai grew up in Xiamen, a port city on China’s southeast coast, across a strait from Taiwan. Her mother, a keen artist and amateur photographer, always carried a camera, documenting every moment of Lai’s childhood. It was this passion that ­captivated Lai, who began photographing her friends and observing moments as she was growing up. In 2014, she moved to London to study fashion photography at UAL. “I grew up in an environment so far removed from fashion. It was another world, and I was eager to explore this fantasy,” Lai explains.