Enchanted, Captivated - An Interview with Hannah Lavenburg
Every person has a different approach to photography. Some treat it as a hobby or a profession, while some feel that it's an intimate and personal thing. Photographer Hannah Lavenburg definitely belongs to the latter. For her, it's an intimate process wherein she gets to share her emotions and feelings. The photos she takes are a reflection of who she is. We were lucky enough to have her on the Magazine for a short interview. Read on and be captivated by her images and words.
Hello, Hannah! Welcome back to the Lomography Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Hannah Lavenburg and I’m 29 years old living in Kansas City where I’m from. I’m currently focusing on my graphic design portfolio and sort of at a crossroads in my life.
How would you define photography?
For me it’s like freezing an emotion, capturing it to analyze. I’ve always been a very visual person and it’s allowed me to express the way I see the world, myself and people.
What's your favorite thing about taking photographs?
It can be cathartic. There’s so much beauty in the world yet also so much darkness. With that being said, I’ve dealt with depression on and off throughout my life so it’s been a form of escapism for me and documenting the way I see the world. Plus it’s a really fun thing to do with friends. A lot of the time we just end up laughing our asses off and when I’m alone and shooting I forget about everything.
Let's talk a bit about your work -- how would you describe your photographic style/approach?
I would say my style is pretty moody or dreamlike. I mostly enjoy shooting women because they can possess an ethereal beauty and probably just because I can express my emotions through them by relating to them more easily.
Who or what would you say was the biggest influence in your work?
I suppose it’s kind of a complicated answer. It’s a number of things. I started shooting with my dad’s 35mm when I was a young teenager. The years following my parent’s divorce were kind of tempestuous so I took to photography to be able to express myself and I’d say it’s still why I do it today. My inspiration is somewhat sporadic.
We really love the mood you present in your photos. They feel so emotional and poetic at times. Is this a particular style you're going for?
I’ve always been drawn to very emotive pieces of art, movies or music and have been brought up being exposed to this kind of thing. I love paying attention to little details in things but also love capturing the feeling of isolation.
Another thing we noticed are your evocative self-portraits. Could you tell us the story behind them?
It’s just another way of documenting a feeling and understanding myself. I can look back at them and remember what I was going through, kind of like journaling.
How much do you think your style has changed over the years?
I started shooting more seriously a few years ago and wanted to create more conceptual imagery involving people and emotions. I suppose it’s a bit more sophisticated and reflective than it used to be.
You mainly shoot with film for your projects. What is it about film that attracted you?
I love the tangibility of loading and unloading the film. Film is imperfect and uncertain which makes it that much more exciting to witness the results. There’s also an undeniable look to film that’s hard to replicate digitally.
Any favorite film or camera combo? Please, share them with our readers.
My favorite camera is my Canon AE-1 and I most often use Fuji ProPlus II but love experimenting with all kinds of films including instant film.
In your opinion, what makes a 'good photograph?’
Anything that evokes an emotion or tells a story and of course good composition and lighting.
Define your style in 3 words.
Dreamlike, moody, mysterious
Who are the artists that you follow on a regular basis?
There’s not really any that I particularly pay attention to. Thanks to the internet you have access to so many incredible artists around the world..
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers and creatives out there?
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, for that’s where true creativity and originality will come from.
What do you think matters more -- talent or skill?
For an artist I believe talent is an innate part of one's personality which can become more developed through experiences and practice, it’s something that gives you a unique voice. Skill can be learned and acquired but you can be a “technically skilled” photographer and take uninteresting photos.
What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced in your creative work and how did you overcome it?
I don’t know so much as a challenge but an interesting situation is shooting with people. It requires a certain amount of vulnerability and trust. I consider myself fairly reserved but photography has been an outlet for me to connect with others and open up an intimate dynamic that might not be possible without a camera or a willingness to just put myself out there.
How do you see the future of film in the next 10 years?
I think there will always be a niche market for film, it might just become more expensive.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
In another life I would master some kind of instrument and become a musician. I always wanted to be an actress as a kid but was too shy. I could definitely go into psychology. Human behavior and emotions fascinate me. I think I may have found my passion between design and photography though.
How does a perfect day look like for Hannah Lavenburg?
At the moment it would be exploring a different place with people I love, taking photos, eating amazing food, relaxing on a beach or in a park, seeing a favorite band play live music.
What's next for you?
Looking for an internship or job doing graphic design and photography.
Any last words for our readers?
Go take some pictures and have a great day!