New York-based photographer Lanna Apisukh is no stranger to the Lomography community. She has worked with us a bunch in previous years, tested some of our cameras and film and even honored us as one of our judges for our TEN AND ONE Annual Lomography Photo Awards. Besides being the sunshine at every Film Community Event in New York, Lanna also organizes the Photo Café with our friends from Brooklyn Central and the Seeing Collective.
While doing all those things for the analog community, Lanna somehow still finds time to work as a professional photographer and most importantly, to shoot tons of rolls of film for personal projects. Now, she launched her first self-published zine, titled Weekends.
Hi Lanna, welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Please introduce yourself to our community real quick.
Hello, Lomo community! My name is Lanna Apisukh and I’m a portrait and documentary photographer based in New York City. Lately, I’ve been documenting youth and skateboarders in the city as their creativity, positivity, and ambition has been a constant inspiration for me.
You've been working as a photographer and with the analog community for a while now. What made you take the step to launch your first zine this summer?
Outside of my professional work, I’ve been shooting a lot more on film in the past year and spent my winter evenings taking a darkroom course. I had taken the same course during my undergrad years (which was long ago!) but the experience this time around was a bit different.
It forced me to slow down and experiment, which is the opposite of how things work on a professional level. Clients want tack sharp images and their deliverables ASAP, so working in the darkroom was sort of a break from all that and allowed me to flourish in my creativity.
During this five-month period, I had produced a lot of black and white images and basically, I wanted to honor the work in a tactile form. I had made some personal photo books in the past but wanted to create something I could quickly put into circulation that had a DIY spirit to it. Never had I self-published my own zine before, so it was something new and exciting to try.
Most of your previous work on your website is shot in color, a lot of it digital. Why did you choose to use only Black and White film photos for "Weekends"?
The darkroom course I took over winter really brought me back to my photography roots. Although I spent a lot of time developing and printing my own images, I also examined a lot of early black and white work produced by Irving Penn, Mary Ellen Mark, Gordon Parks, and Helen Levitt. Their mastery of shadow and light was so powerful, it really inspired me to embrace black and white film as a medium for my next project, which is why I found myself editing Weekends exclusively this way.
For someone who shoots both: What's your attitude towards analog vs. digital?
Both mediums have their advantages and disadvantages, but I’ve always felt that analog was more fun. I also love the look of film and the element of surprise when you get your negatives or scans back from the photo lab. You really never know what you’re going to get so when you have some great shots exposed nicely, it feels extra satisfying. Shooting on film also makes you slow down your process as the number of frames you get in a roll of film are limited. So it makes me think more about subject matter, composition and light. Whereas if I’m shooting on digital, I can always go back to review an image and adjust things on the fly but where’s the fun in that? :) Also, when I’m shooting on digital I’m often times processing hundreds to thousands of photos from one shoot to the point where it can feel overwhelming and sometimes tedious. With film, I don’t have the luxury to shoot like that since it can get expensive really fast, so I try to shoot quality over quantity and with more intent which I think is important in developing as an artist.
From portraits, to nature, street and still life: The photos in the zine are very diverse and yet they feel very harmonic. Tell us a little bit about the curation and idea behind this zine.
Thank you so much for the kind words! Editing my work has always been a challenge for me, so I appreciate this sentiment. For this project, the curation actually felt very natural for me. I knew I wanted to celebrate all the work I had done in the darkroom but the hardest part was identifying a theme to bring it all together since the images were so varied. After printing the images and looking at the work for a long time, I realized a lot of the photos I was producing had a calmness about them, and often shot on the weekends or during my spare time when things felt relaxed. It made me think about what people like to do with their hours outside of work and that pretty much set the tone for the zine.
Any advice for people out there who are thinking about making their own zine as well?
Just do it! But take time to reflect on your work before you go to curate your zine. Find patterns in what you’re shooting and try to piece that together into a set of ideas or a theme. Have other photographers look at your work and don’t be afraid of critique! It’s all going to help you refine your vision in the end. Also, don’t stress about the print quality or if the images will look perfect the first time. Keep in the spirit of the zine, which were originally made by hand and photocopy machines and you’ll put a little less pressure on yourself to deliver perfection. Besides, you can always try different printers and online services later. There are so many options these days.
Last but not least, how can we get our hands on a copy of Weekends?
Here is a link to where you can get a copy of the zine online.