Here at A&C we've closely watched and admired Sophie Bayly's developing aesthetic as a photographer and visual artist over the last decade and we're lucky to finally have her as part of our team. Being currently grounded in Aotearoa due to travel restrictions, she took a winter sojourn in the deep south to mind a friend's animal farm in the mountains and she's emerged with a beautiful series of art prints for sale highlighting her view of the world both abroad and right here in New Zealand's heartland.
Can you tell us about your journey with photography?
I’m wired as a visual learner so I generally tanked in any subjects at school that weren’t tactile or visual which led me to be drawn more to the creative world. Graphic Design seemed like the sensible choice to study at university and it’s turned out to be a useful skill but photography is my calling. You know you’ve found your calling when you’d happily work for free. I’d pay my own way just to be able to photograph Soviet era war monument called Spomeniks in the middle of a brutal Eastern European winter just for fun or travel 9000kms on the trans Siberian railway to document what passengers do to pass the time on their journey.
When not dreaming about photo adventures or being stuck at home in a lockdown I’m usually photographing people in love. Weddings have taught me a lot about human nature, we all desire to love and be loved, we’re all essentially the same and being let in to peoples lives in an incredibly intimate way on a weekly basis makes you believe in humanity and is a huge privilege for me to witness.
Is there a place your photography has taken you that has allowed you to learn, and what did it teach you?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world to photograph weddings in the most interesting places, from abandoned castle elopements in Scotland, to Upstate NY Amish-style barn hoe downs, Volcano weddings in Hawaii, roaming the alleyways of Italian towns where no one speaks English and trying to ask a local if we can shoot couple portraits outside their 1000 year old stone villa and of course every kind of beautiful kiwi wedding. Shooting international weddings has allowed me to not just experience places as a tourist but to interact with our couples and their friends and family at a much deeper level and see the world through their eyes.
Your freedom to travel the globe to photograph has been restricted due to COVID. How have you learnt to look at the world and work in a different way?
The grass is greener wherever you water it so we’ve learnt just to be open to opportunities in our own backyard rather than just waiting around for the borders to reopen. The pandemic has forced us to slow down, question, reevaluate, drink a bit more gin and ponder the meaning of life a little more than usual and help to realign our goals to what we truly need.
What perspectives are available to you now as a result?
As a result we’ve taken on more commercial shoots and had more time for personal projects which has given us the variety of work that every creative soul needs to keep you open and moving rather than being stagnant in the familiar.
Tell us about a recent (re)discovery in your everyday.
There’s a place down the road from where I live that lets you take their books home as long as you promise to bring them back. It’s really quite generous of them and I’ve been able to pour over dozens of photography books without having to pay anything. I spend far too much time looking at a screen so the library is a welcome analog experience.
Now, the home stuff.
Tell us about your home. Do you have a personal home style philosophy?
I’m a Minimalist. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it’s out. You’ll find me spring cleaning in every season.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior? Plants, books, art and coffee supplies appear to dominate the interiors of our home. I wouldn’t say there’s been much of a thought process behind it all, it’s just accumulated over time to the point that there’s now a particular style to it.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally? Choose a colour palette and go from there. Also plants are always a good idea.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
Always more art. Our own work and work by our fave artists.
What are your weekend rituals at home?
Weekends lol. Shooting mostly weddings has meant no Saturdays for virtually all of summer but I do have a solid morning routine:
- Fuji the cat stands on my stomach and wakes me up
- I feed Fuji (& Frank our other cat who knows I’d suffocate if his walrus-sized body woke me up by standing on me)
- Make coffee
- Read my book in the sunny window seat of my bedroom
What’s on your playlist at home?
I like a variety so will listen to Kim Hill’s time slot on RNZ (I imagine her to look like Judy Dench smoking with a vintage cigarette holder and round spectacles resting on the tip of her nose). A podcast such as BBC documentary talking about the complexities of refugees trying to find a better future or an Alain de Botton podcast riffing on philosophy and how the invention of romanticism is harmful to modern relationships then followed by the 1pm Covid update by Jacinda and Ashley hoping lockdown will finally end so I can go get a pastry from Daily Bread.
Discover Weekly on Spotify often dishes up some good tunes when I train the algorithm to be clear about my dislikes. Some recently ‘hearted’ artists include Night Birde, Brooke Bentham, Haiku Salut, Wye Oak, The Staves, La Femme and then my go to artists include Fleet Foxes, War on Drugs, Sharon van Etten, Arcade Fire, Big Thief, Leon Bridges, David Byrne, Future Islands and NZ artists Marlon Williams, Tiny Ruins, Aldous Harding and Nadia Reid.