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LOSING THE LIGHT

Mostly film photography of people in bushes or in front of them.

PHOTOGRAPHY IEVA LASMANE

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As summer comes to an end, we catch up with photographer Ieva Lasmane to talk about her practice, connection with nature and her outlook on that ‘perfectly curated feed’. Ieva prefers to hide in the summer shade and describes the perfect holiday to be in the middle of nowhere, by the sea (or to be commissioned to travel the globe) as she struggles to take time off. We find her work to be captivating and hiding multiple layers of emotion - and we’re curious to explore what makes her tick, and how she has developed her photographic style.

What’s been your ‘song of the summer’ this year?

I couldn’t possibly choose one song to describe my summer. The Mellow Groove compilation on Spotify would probably be the closest – a mixture of emotions. Up until now I pretty much associated summer with carelessness, yet this summer has been anything but that. Despite that, having longer days does still bring some joy and delight to heart.

How do you feel you arrived at your visual aesthetic?

I’m still figuring myself out and learning to fully trust my instincts and gut. Overall my life is just full of endless wandering, analysing, reflecting, questioning everything and anything – staying curious might be the key. I spend most of my time reading, watching, observing. I like the excitement of not knowing what’s coming next. 

The scene for menswear fashion didn’t quite exist back home when I was growing up. That’s why I was inquisitive to explore it when I had the chance. The men in my family fit into the box of ‘traditional masculinity’ and, combined with not having a loving father figure, made me assume sensitivity and delicacy were traits strictly for women. From there, my work pretty much turned to studying the enigmas of masculinity and my own relationship with men, loving and longing in any sense and form.

Your images seem to connect with nature and invite the viewer to do the same. How did that become such an important element in your work?

I began to incorporate nature in my work unconsciously. Moving to London made me feel rather alienated. After reflecting on the work I’d created, I realised that it all had some kind of natural element, whether through location or props. Delving into work by Edward Burtynsky and Karl Blossfeldt left an enormous impact on how I perceive things, and how human beings interact with nature.

We are connected to nature, we exist and breathe by its virtue, and one shouldn’t put nature before or after oneself, as it is a part of who and why we are. A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, and it helps me to recharge. It's crucial for us to be more environmentally conscious and value everything that is given to us ‘for free’, with care and love. We need to redesign our current systems with the environment at the heart of it.

What first brought you to shoot on film?

I wanted to try and succeed with analogue photography, yet probably my first 5 rolls of 35mm were either blank, jammed, or completely ruined. I gave up until I shot with a medium format camera and completely fell in love. The idea of looking down a big, heavy box to create an image fascinated me. It made me slow down and consider what is worth a frame and what isn’t. I’m not set on any one medium at the moment, though after shooting with digital for a while I feel the need to jump back to film just to force myself to slow down. 

I don’t care what someone uses to create imagery, as long as it tells a story. Shooting film does excite me the most as it’s not just taking an image and then uploading it onto your computer – processing and developing requires time, and after doing that yourself you start to ask whether it is important to take another shot. That could be both a good and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

"I’m not particularly good with words, but I know how to use a camera."

A lot of your recent work has increasingly been shot in black and white – what does that change about the image for you?

I’m not particularly good with words, but I know how to use a camera. I began using black and white when I was feeling my lowest a few months ago. I would take trips just to escape London and shoot whatever caught my eye – sometimes nothing did. I feel things too strongly, and I was feeling very apathetic. But looking at the landscape work I shot filled me with hope. Black and white can be perceived as something mundane, yet it lets the mind be more interpretive and abstract, evoking different emotions.

Do you plan how your models will interact with the location beforehand – or do you find ways to marry them once you start shooting?

It depends on the brief and my overall mood. Most of the time I’ll prepare 75% of the shoot and will have a set idea of the direction I want to take it visually. I like to be fully present on set, even when I’m not shooting. I’ve noticed that people are the most beautiful and interesting when they think no one is looking. Everyone is unique in the way they are, how they interact – whether that be body language or verbal communication. I can plan and imagine a lot of things in my head, but in reality when I’m working with someone I haven’t met before, they’ll bring their own self into the picture.

You seem to have a very specific aesthetic down on social, does it represent you well? And as a photographer, how do you feel about the rise of “visual networking”?

I have mixed feelings about social media. Emerging technology gives us the ability to access anything at any given time, so in reality it's up to the individual how he chooses to spend his time online. It’s whether you use the tool or the tool uses you. 

Showcasing my work online has connected me with wonderful people whilst still nourishing the relationships and connections I already have - might it be distance, time or something else between us. As long as the phones get put face down when having someone's physical presence, and real touch and conversations remain a priority, it’s not all that bad. However, photography wise it doesn’t matter how beautiful the image is, people will look at it for 2 seconds and move on. Nothing compares to a traditionally well-printed image, book, poster, anything.

When it comes to what I decide to put out there, I used to feel very restrained but when someone goes to bed, it’s probably not your Instagram post that keeps them up at night. We are too obsessed with ourselves but in reality, no one cares – or, no one cares as much as you think they do. I’ve noticed that by expressing difficulties I’ve come across and just being fully transparent out loud (doesn’t matter if it’s online or in person), has increased the quality of connection - uneasiness shouldn’t be burdened. 

I’m not really the one to curate and set a specific feed for my work – I wish I was. If I post anything online it’s because it means a lot to me and I’m enthusiastic to share. I think that’s the biggest contrast between me and the viewer. I just like what I like and I guess it aligns very well. But when I produce something new I don’t ask myself whether it’ll match my Instagram feed, I’ll only tie the similarities together after a while.

What would you like everyone to focus more on?

Overall, I just want people to care more. To stop choosing passivity as a way of escapism and leading a monotonous life. We live in an age of acceleration. While we have an immense amount of time on our hands, we feel extremely rushed. We allow economic and social inconveniences to diminish our lives and it’s worrying. We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening around us, but it shouldn’t prevent us from enjoying the beauty of life either.