[L]ana Prins is a photographer working out of Rotterdam. Her images, often of her close friends, frequently feature the water, flowers and sometimes snakes too. The images combine unconventional eroticism with romance and isolation as her subjects exist in a rare space between harsh reality and an undiscovered dreamland.
We caught up with Lana to talk about movies, melancholy and inspiration. Follow Lana here.
Hi Lana, the natural world - water, flowers, sky - appears a lot in your photographs. Why is that?
I’ve always been drawn to the melancholic feeling that nature can give me sometimes. Inspiration for new stories and photos usually comes to me when I’m outside surrounded by nature. While staring at the wild sea nature can feel so big and powerful. This powerful and melancholic feeling of nature is something I use in my images to translate certain moods as a part of the story I want to tell. I also like to use nature as a metaphor for something human.
The way water is captured on camera is something I find extremely fascinating; the way it moves, the way it forms itself around a body, how it reflects light. By capturing water I’m able to show all kinds of movements and light that first were invisible. For me water can add a completely new layer to a photo.
Who are the people in your photographs?
Usually the people in my photos are close friends. I like working with people I feel connected to. Some people have something magical to their appearance. I can feel very attracted to and inspired by small details of someone’s look or character. It can also be very interesting to get to know a stranger through photographing him or her.
Do you think contemporary photography and fashion imagery has progressed in its portrayal of women?
Within today’s fashion photography we still see a lot of stereotypes but I believe that slowly but surely it becomes evident that we are part of a generation that is ready to change. A lot of things are changing in the way people look at women in today’s society and we are very aware of the power of images and the way we can use this to make a change. I think fashion photography is a great medium to spread these ideas and views.
Do you feel like you empower your subjects?
It’s not necessarily a goal of mine to empower the people I photograph. Often I project parts of myself, or my own emotions, onto the person I’m photographing. Mainly his or her appearance somehow empowers me by inspiring me and by translating their presence in my photos. Although I do always hope that the people I photograph also see and feel both their and my energy back in the photo itself.
What other imagery inspires you?
I’m very sensitive to colours and textures. I love it when the right colours come together in an image. The painting called Yellow, Cherry, Orange (1947) from Mark Rothko is a beautiful example of an image that triggers my senses through colour, composition and texture. The painting makes me think of unexpected colours and shapes created by light leaks on film. I also really enjoy the work of Chloe Wise, who creates lifelike food sculptures and explores consumerism and the relationship between the female form and food.
What’s your favourite movie?
Gaspar Noé’s last movie Love, in which he wanted to depict real human sexuality on screen, is one of my favourites at the moment. The movie is shot in such a way you can’t help to fall in love with it a little bit. There was a lot of controversy after it’s cinema release, and therefore opened the topic of sexuality for discussion, which I think is great. We are used to seeing a lot of violence in cinemas and in movies but when human sexuality is shown on the screen everybody seems to be shocked.
The colourful and symmetric set design in Stanley Kubrick’s and Wes Anderson’s movies are also very inspiring to me. In most of their movies the colours are a common thread throughout the story, which I find very pleasing.
Can you tell us an image that has had a major impact on you?
Two weeks ago I visited the exhibition Naked/Nude of Ren Hang in Foam, Amsterdam. I loved seeing his work in real life. To me his work translates a feeling of freedom, but some images also show a certain oppressed feeling. The unfortunate news of his recent passing and knowing that he suffered from depression has revealed an extra layer in his photos to me. Some of his photos have a big impact on me when seeing them back now.