Lara Zankoul, a Lebanese photographer who decided to follow her dreams of becoming a fashion and fine arts photographer. Her series are strongly characterized by a high dose of daydreaming and surrealism, which are able to transport the viewer into magical worlds. We had a conversation with Lara in which we asked more about her path as a photographer and her amazing and unique style.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who’s the woman behind the lens.
I’m Lara. I’m Lebanese. I grew up in Saudi Arabia then moved back to Lebanon. Studied Economics then decided to pursue my passion for photography around 9 years ago.
I work from my studio in Beirut. I am now a fashion and fine arts photographer. I also sell prints through art galleries.
I love chocolate, movies, and recently cooking.
You describe yourself as a self-taught photographer. How was the shift from economics to the artistic world? Which were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
The biggest challenges that I had to do with the technical side, mainly lighting, artificial ones. It was quite scary in the beginning but then after moving to commercial photography I kind of forced myself to learn it and now it’s my favourite thing! It makes a photographers work way more powerful.
Through your pictures, we can see that you love transporting the viewers to imaginary and often surreal worlds. How do you pick the themes you want to portrait?
The themes often relate to the human psyche, which contains so much surrealism, through dreams, distorted memories, the subconscious…I find it very intriguing and I'm very inspired by it. Other things that inspire me are architecture, organic forms, lighting, etc..
People look at pictures with big cultural and emotional baggage and thus see different things in the same photo.
What influences you as a photographer? Has any other photographer influenced and inspired you? how?
Everything visual influences me as a photographer: any form of art like paintings, choreographies, theatre, movies as well as everyday elements of life: a location, certain magical lighting, a model. I find inspiration in anything and everything.
Many photographers have influenced my work: mainly the old masters of fashion photography like Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Albert Watson, Tim Walker...
What emotions or messages do you want to generate through your photos and work?
I try to make the viewer stop and feel something, relate somehow, take his experience into my photo. I like when different people read the photo in really different ways. People look at pictures with big cultural and emotional baggage and thus see different things in the same photo. This makes the language of photography a universal one and I love to express myself through it.
Your colour palette is composed mostly of soft, pastel colors. Is this one of your signature elements? Which other elements have you adopted to create your own style?
I believe these tons reflect my nature, I am attracted to softness and calm, to everything dreamy yet real. And this has translated into what you called “my signature elements” I guess. Other elements include minimalism and a geometric approach in a lot of my photography.
On Instagram, we have seen that you’re currently working with 3D design and rendering? Are you going to incorporate it into your future works in photography?
Yes, it was a real delicacy getting into the world of 3D because it creates extremely surreal content in the most hyper-realistic way and this is a dream for me. It cuts all the production and budget constraints when having to build such sets in real life.
I am still very new to this world but there is definitely an interest to take it further.
Which has been your favourite project till now?
The Above Under Water project will always be a favourite, with the Zoo photo which really went viral and really talked to every person who looked at it. I never imagined such a reaction when creating it but it turned out amazing.
What’s the message you will like to leave to photographers that are starting their career and to the ones that, as you want to change their path?
I would say follow your passion and don’t be afraid to take risks.
View more of Lara Zankoul's work here.
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