By emphasising sexual freedom and depicting female bodies in all their natural glory, Rotterdam-based photographer Lana Prins hopes to contribute to make nudity more easily discussable. Vibrant colours, water as a unifying element, and flowers all over are just some of the resources she uses to make the viewer feel natural about him or herself. Today, we talk with her about body objectification, making people feel comfortable when being nude, and what’s next in her career.
You are a photographer based in Rotterdam. What is your story? How did you get into photography?
Photography came into my life around the age of fifteen. I took my parents’ camera and started taking photos of my friends in nature with a bunch of clothes we found on the attic. Capturing specific moments and being able to influence those while at the same time depending on coincidences around me excited me from the beginning. I love the balance between the predictable and the unpredictable within photography.
You take photographs of the female body, mainly naked. Is it the main inspiration for your photos? Or are moments, thoughts and feelings also inspiring for your work?
Most of the time, my photos are mainly inspired by a certain story in my mind or a certain feeling that I want to translate. I work very intuitively and let myself be led by what moves and inspires me the most at that specific moment in my life. This is reflected in the topics I work with and within the visual translations of these topics. When I started with photography I was very curious towards the female body and I was exploring my own sexuality.
Are there photographers, poets and other artists who have influenced you?
I find my inspiration in many different sources. I love watching movies and I collect photo books. Music and lyrics also inspire me a lot. I listen to music while travelling through the city. All these moving people, landscapes and situations around me accompanied by a song make me feel as if I were in a movie. Sometimes, it even feels as if I think in movies and begin to see film-stills everywhere. I could base an idea for a shoot on a single sentence of a song.
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Your photographs capture your friends and your sister. Why do you prefer to shoot the closest people around you instead of models? Do you notice that the already existing and intimate relationship helps during the shoot? Is it easier to get across the intention of your photos?
It’s very important to me to be able to work spontaneously. With people who are close to me it’s easy to work like that and on short notice. When you know each other, you know what to expect and you understand each other’s energy. On the other hand, I also love working with people who I haven’t met before. The fact that I don’t exactly know what to expect can also be very exciting. There is another kind of tension between the person in front of my camera and me when I don’t know them very well.
My camera makes it possible for me to come closer to people and to get to know them. This intrigues me.
How do you make sure that your friends feel comfortable during the shoot?
It’s important to talk and to know what the person in front of my camera does or doesn’t want to do. Sometimes, I don’t have complete control over the situation around us – for example, when I’m shooting outside. Whenever I photograph someone, especially when they’re nude, I always pay attention to him or her during the whole shoot by asking them if they’re still feeling comfortable. Somebody could feel very vulnerable being nude in front of a camera so it’s important to show respect in such situations.
You describe your work as “innocent sensual”. Although nakedness is our most natural state, do you feel like there are limits of what you can show in your photographs? How do you decide which poses and what kind of nudity works for your projects?
Personally, I think that what I show always depends on how I show it. A lot of topics can be made discussable when framed in the right way. Looking for my personal limits while photographing and finding the right balance is something that has always interested me. I always trust my intuition when deciding what works and what doesn’t.
Some might argue that you sexualise the female body in your images. Are you frustrated that people sometimes confuse the freedom and sensuality you intend to show with the objectification of the female body? Why do we still find it so hard to be proud of our sensuality and sexiness?
No, this doesn’t frustrate me. In fact, I understand where such interpretations could come from. There is such a big source of images online nowadays that it creates the possibility of them being pulled out of context. Without knowing who made the image, what other images does this artist make and in what kind of setting are they created and presented, it is very easy to project your own experience and interpretation on that specific image.
The fact that some people react to my photographs in ways like these shows me that it is important to keep doing what I'm doing. It's important for young artists to help shape new ideas in society and try to make changes through their art. This is happening a lot already, which is something I'm happy to see. I hope to be able to change the view and thoughts of people towards the topics I work with and hope to inspire and encourage those who can feel and read my images. One of my goals is to make certain topics such as sexuality and nudity more easily discussable.
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You get a lot of response on social media. Why do you think is that? Many photographers are interested in either the sensuality or the sexuality of the female body but you work with both of them. Do you think people are attracted to the freedom in your pictures?
I can’t say what element in particular attracts people to my work. It could be something different for everyone. Sensuality, sexuality and the female body are topics that gain a lot of interest in general at the moment – I think it’s important to talk about them. Social media can be great platforms to spread and share ideas.
On your Facebook page and Instagram accounts you combine your photographs with little texts. What messages do you want to convey through texts that you can’t through photographs?
Texts can give a photo a double layer, it can guide the way you think, or make you look at the image in a specific way. It can give an insight about what emotions do I personally feel with that photo but there isn’t a specific message I am trying to convey through the texts that I couldn’t through my pictures. Different people can perceive stories in different ways; some are more focused on words where others are better in reading visuals. I aim to make my work more accessible to more people by doing this.
Do you have plans on how you want to continue with your work?
In the back of my head, I’m always thinking of what could be the next step. Personally, I like changing and I need my work to evolve. Moving to another city could be a very logical option at some point. As long as I keep developing as a person, my work will do so too.
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