For Mahnoosh Niakan, analogue photography is all about experimenting and trying things out. And so it made sense to send the talented Berliner with Iranian roots one of our most exciting products to test - the LomoGraflok. With this world's first instant photo back for 4x5 large format cameras, she has created a great mix of vintage portraits and still life images. Let's take a look at her results and read what she has to say!
Hello Mahnoosh, welcome to our online magazine! Please start by telling us a little about yourself.
I am a photographer of Iranian background in Berlin. In summer 2018, I bought my first DSLR camera after graduating from high school and discovered the world of photography. It didn't take long for me to realize that photography was the right profession for me. As a result, I started my training as a photo designer at the Lette Verein in Berlin in 2019. Since then, I've really enjoyed trying out different techniques, especially in analogue photography.
What inspires you and your art?
I am lucky that I am interested in many different art forms at the same time. As I am a very visually orientated person and have a photographic memory, I am influenced by everything I see that catches my attention, whether it's architecture, paintings or films. I also always notice how my culture influences the aesthetics in my work.
Why is analogue photography important to you?
Analogue photography allows me to experiment and try out more. Of course, I can also implement many techniques in digital photography and post-production, but I make a conscious decision to shoot on film for certain projects. I love to take a moment before each exposure to think about how I want the end result to look. For me, there's nothing better in photography than when my detailed vision matches the end result, and even more so when it's captured on film.
How long have you been working with large format? What do you like most about it?
I photographed with 4x5' large format for the first time in spring 2020. During the first lockdown in Germany, I spent a lot of time walking around the forests of Berlin with a Sinar F2. These forest walks resulted in my first free series with large format, Utopian World, which shows a series of double exposures of nature.
How did you prepare for the test of our LomoGraflok? What ideas did you want to realize and what equipment did you use?
For the first shoot, the set design was important to me. I'd had the idea of working with vintage props for a long time. That's why I spent a day in the Adlershof fundus on a treasure hunt. I shot with a Shen Hao camera with 210 mm and 110 mm Schneider Simmer-S lenses. I used Profoto B1 flashes for the lighting.
What was it like working with the LomoGraflok?
It was a little unusual at first to see the results straight away and to be able to share my vision with my team quickly when you are already used to the process of large format photography, from loading film cassettes to developing and scanning. I enjoy working with a large format camera and using the LomoGraflok significantly reduces the time it takes to get to the final result. That's why I'll be using a large format camera more often in the future.
Is there another Lomography product that you would like to test?
As I have a great passion for film photography and am also a cinema enthusiast, I would love to test the LomoKino.
Do you have any projects coming up in the near future?
I'm currently working on my first short film. I'm also about to start a long-term project that focuses on the lives of Iranians in exile.
Finally, do you have any advice for our community?
Experiment and have fun with photography, because always repeating a visual language and not being very enthusiastic about your own work leads to results that don't stand out from the mass of images.
Thank you very much for the wonderful interview, Mahnoosh!