Lena Modigh, the founder of Period. zine, wanted to create an outlet for her art and the people she admired. After graduating from the London College of Communication and gaining experience from working with photographer John Akehurst, she decided to start her own publication. Lena’s passion for photography and print came together and inspired her to create a zine where talented female artists can get together and build something that they feel passionate about. A collection of texts, photographs and other art forms revolves around a subject that, in Lena’s opinion, many women can relate to.
Period.’s contemporary approach to themes and art gives the publication an exciting outlook. A variety of contributors helps the zine to capture many perspectives and forms of artistic expressions. Period. is going strong with the sixth issue, Music & Memory, out now. In the Internet era where everything is published online, print needs attention more than ever. In the interview, Lena talks about her approach to picture-taking, collaborating and inspiring women.
As a female photographer in a male-dominated industry, what are some challenges you are faced with every day?
To be totally honest, I never felt as a female photographer that there were any challenges. Not for me at least. I think it has worked in my favour. I know there are probably a lot of arses out there, but I've never met them, rather the opposite. I think sometimes it's easier to be trusted as a female photographer than as a male one. There are a lot of tough and strong women in this industry, I think.
Online publishing is becoming the most popular form of putting up work, why did you decide to produce a printed zine, and how do you stay relevant to your readers?
I felt I wanted to publish my photographs in my own way and I got a bit impatient to wait around for an opportunity. To be published, I think you have to be in the right moment at the right place, and I didn’t have that patience. Also, I didn’t just want to publish my own work, so for the first issue, I contacted a few photographers, illustrators and writers I found intriguing and talented. There’s so much talent out there. I think you just have to follow your gut feeling, and I think we overall have the same thoughts and issues. We all relate to the same things, but it can be in different ways. Some of the themes for Period. so far have been Girl Crush, Space, Blue and Motherhood; I think these are things everyone can relate to. It’s up to the contributors to interpret the theme however they like, so you get different points of view, not just mine.
Photographing other people is a very intimate experience, what techniques do you use to make the person you’re shooting feel comfortable and open up?
Yes, very intimate; sometimes scary. I try to listen to them. Make them feel involved and very special. They are. I think it’s very brave to let yourself be photographed. I admire people who do. I hate it.
You have studied Photography at London College of Communication, do you feel like university helped you to develop skills and gave you confidence, or made you question your art and creativity?
I think it gave me time to play and an opportunity to meet similar kinds of people; it’s a creative community. It helped me play with the camera and play with different techniques, but I don’t think it prepared me for a career as a photographer. I learnt the most from assisting, I think that’s the best school. It was sometimes very hard but very enriching. I don’t think you have to assist, but I definitely learnt so much – not just about photography but the whole process. This was in the fashion industry, so maybe that’s different. I also got to see some amazing places like the Arctic.
Collaborating with other artists seems like one of the most essential parts of your creative process, especially getting together with other female photographers. Why do you think it is important to support each other?
I think it’s really mind-blowing when you meet people and connect over something – not saying every meeting is mind-blowing, but when it happens, it’s a cool feeling. I also think we can learn from each other. There are so many brilliant photographers, writers and artists out there, and I wish sometimes I could do what they do, and sometimes, I might get jealous, but I think it’s better to try and embrace it.
Are the themes of Period. personal or are they topics that inspire you in your everyday life?
They started off as being personal, but then they become something much bigger when they are being interpreted by the contributors.
Is there anything specific that you are looking for in an artist when you're searching for women to join the team of Period.?
Something that excites me. Something I wish I could do.
You live and work in Stockholm. Is that the city that inspires you the most?
No, not at all. Sometimes it can be too beautiful to inspire. I think I get inspired by grittiness. Also, travelling and new places inspire me.
John Akehurst is a very important name in the industry. What did you learn from working with him that helped you to pursue your career?
Wow! A hard question. I didn’t know anything about fashion photography when I started assisting John, so I learnt everything from him and the people he worked with at the time, such as Katie Grand, Camille Bidault Waddington, Charlotte Stockdale, CLM, his agent at the time, Fabien Baron, etc. Experiences that form you as a person.
Period. gives talented women a voice and space to create and share their work. It's a powerful concept that demonstrates that females have a crucial position in the industry. Which female public figures inspire you personally?
Most women, and I only know a tiny fraction of them. Women who despite who they are meant to be, or how society think of them, change their circumstances.
What message do you want to give out through your photography and zine?
What makes me super happy is when someone younger than me buys the magazine and feels hopeful or inspired that there’s a place for them as well.