Her Story: Alexandra Lhermite-Schwass

Tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I was born in Australia, of Swedish-German parents, and grew up in Switzerland. Coming from an international background certainly sparked my passion for travelling. Also, my husband is from France and I met him while I lived in New York for a year after I finished my studies. I think “international” truly defines me! I have studied business management, and after obtaining my Master’s degree I gained solid experience as a Social Media Manager in the luxury industry. I currently work freelance, and dedicate my time to another passion of mine: photography. 

So, how many languages are you fluent in?

I speak English, French and Swedish. My German is a bit rusty, but I fully understand it. And I do understand Spanish rather well.

Where do you currently reside in?

I have been living in London since the end of 2013. I moved to the UK from Switzerland for my husband’s job, and it has been a wonderful adventure so far.

What do you love about this place?

London is such an inspiring city. There is always so much going on here – the opportunities for photography are endless. Also, I have met so many friendly and interesting persons from different horizons. Moving to London has been very fulfilling in terms of creativity and personal growth.

Any secret locations that you love to shoot in?

There is this very quiet residential neighbourhood just off Notting Hill Gate, which I love to shoot. It has about a hundred different pastel-coloured facades; it is pure eye candy!

What is something you cannot live without?

I cannot live without tea! I need my black tea in the morning, my green tea in the afternoon, and my night time tea before getting to bed.

What made you start photography while you were doing your Business Management degree in Switzerland?

I have always been drawn to beautiful images. As a teenager I would buy postcards of magnificent landscapes, store them in a box, take them out once in a while…and daydream. Later, when I was a university student and digital cameras started to appear, I read an article about Flickr and I signed up. Hence, I began to play around with a very basic camera. It was a lot of experimenting, and from then it has evolved into my passion.

What would you consider your style of photography?

I would describe my style as eclectic because I do not confine my pictures to one single theme. I love bright colours in photos, but I do not mind photographing something more neutral or darker from time to time. I am very much inspired by nature and love shooting landscapes, but I also do urban shots with elements of architecture. I love including people in my pictures and would love to do more proper portraits. I think all of this comes from my love for beautiful images and the desire to experiment with different styles.

What are your inspirations behind your photographs?

I am inspired by the people I meet, the places I visit, the details I observe… I find inspiration everyday, everywhere! I just love being able to capture forever a wonderful scene, a fleeting moment, a peculiar detail.  Many artists, photographers and filmmakers also inspire me. I fall in love all the time with images I see on Instagram or elsewhere.

Recently you have been experimenting with short videos on Instagram, would you ever consider producing a short documentary/film?

Yes, ever since Instagram launched the video feature, I have been experimenting with mini videos, and I enjoy it very much! I love the process of filming, editing the video and adding a soundtrack. I think there is a big difference between 15-second videos and a short documentary, but yes, it may be something I would do if I find an inspiring subject.

Alex, you seem to travel quite often, where are some of the countries you have been too?

Yes, travelling is my biggest passion along with photography. I have travelled quite a lot so far in 2015.

One of the highlights was discovering the beauty of the Faroe Islands. It is a remote and small country, with such extraordinary scenery. It is a very green land, with no trees, countless of waterfalls and hundreds of thousands cute Puffin birds. I absolutely loved spending a week there!

I also visited Scotland for the second time in 12 months. It was a great feeling to be back on the Isle of Skye, which has some of the most impressive and peaceful sights I have ever seen.

After spending time in green pastures up north, it was great to get a feeling of summer in Italy. I went on a road trip from Venice to Rome, stopping in Cinque Terre and Florence. Italy is such a charming country, and so visually pleasing. I really enjoyed photographing the washing lines strung outside windows with the laundry out to dry.

Also, I have taken pleasure in exploring places that are closer to where I live, such as going on road trips to Wales and Dorset in the UK. The landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful there.

This year, I also fulfilled one of my childhood dreams: to visit the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. It was magical!

Who embarks with you on your travel adventure?

I mostly travel with my husband and/or my family. I have family in Switzerland, Sweden, New York City, Berlin and Lyon so I get to visit these places regularly.

What is your current travel bucket list?

I want to go everywhere! But at the moment I seriously dream of visiting Canada and Iceland. And Mongolia, and Morocco, and Peru, and Portugal… Ah, so many places!

Would you rather be able to travel for the rest of your life and not do photography or be able to do photography and not travel?

Without hesitation, I would rather be able to travel for the rest of my life and not do photography. I would just keep photographing in my mind!

Do you have any travelling quirks that our readers do not know about?

I cannot remember how it started but when I was 15 I got struck with fear of flying, although I had been travelling extensively with my family since my youngest age. So now I tend to get anxious when I am on a plane. But I always force myself to do it otherwise I just would not go anywhere. Last year, I decided to face my fear one step further: after sitting in aisle seats ever since my fear first began, I found the courage to take a window seat and to keep my eyes open for takeoff. It felt amazing! I realised that the views from up in the air are breathtaking. Now I always make sure to book a window seat and I am learning to enjoy flying again, just like when I was a kid. And I have become that annoying person who takes pictures and videos during the whole flight!

If you were to be an animal for a day, what would you be?

I love dogs very much, but I would love to feel how it is to be a bird and fly.

Finish this sentence, "Hey I just met you... "

Will you please go stand there and let me take a picture of you?

Your current singer/band obsession?

Lately, I have been obsessively listening to ‘Kings of Convenience’, an indie-folk duo from Norway. Their music is so delicate and poetic. Unfortunately, they have not released anything new since 2009. I am also a big fan of Florence + The Machine.

Italy - Alexandra Lhermite-Schwass (copyright) (5).JPG

Currently, what equipment do you use to photograph?

As I became more familiar with the fundamentals of photography, I upgraded to a proper DSLR and felt my pictures became more qualitative. But then I discovered Instagram in 2012 and started shooting with my iPhone. Until May 2015, I had always kept my feed ‘iPhone only’ as I have come to realise that there are so many possibilities with the iPhone and all the apps available. It is interesting to observe how mobile photography has created a new generation of photographers. I find that shooting with the iPhone is less intimidating; it is just so easy to take out my iPhone from the handbag and quickly shoot anything that catches my eye. But photographing with an iPhone does have its limitations, for instance in terms of printing quality or depth of field. So, this year I decided to get back to shooting with a compact digital camera and got myself an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I am so happy with the results I have been getting with this camera! I also had the pleasure to be invited by Olympus UK to a trip to Scotland to test different lenses for my camera. It was a wonderful experience!

What is your favorite editing software?

My favourite tools for editing are Snapseed and VSCO Cam. I have recently discovered that the iPhone’s native photo editing tools are excellent. I also find Instagram’s editing tools useful. The Retouch app comes in very handy when you want to get rid of a small detail in the picture.

How do you edit your photos?

The process is never the same; it really depends on the picture in general, the colours, the light… You have to play around with the different tools!

Any tips for our readers?

 ·     Pick a good username or your real name, but avoid numbers.

·       Polish your photos with the right apps.

·       Use a few relevant hashtags, but #do #not #overuse #hashtags.

·       Follow, comment, reply… Interact! Instagram is all about community.

·       Stay genuine.

Lastly to conclude, what can we expect from you in the near future?

One thing for sure: many more pictures!