Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Lara Zankoul: I am a fine arts photographer based in Lebanon. My photographs are contemporary fairy tales that explore the charm and mystery of the human psyche. Whimsical and playful, they represent an attempt to push against the boundaries of our reality and escape the monotony of everyday life.
Times of Youth: What does photography mean to Lara Zankoul?
Lara Zankoul: Photography is a passion I can’t live without. It is a lifestyle which makes life more exciting and meaningful. I never felt complete until I started photographing.
Times of Youth: How and at what age did you end up being a photographer, and what made you choose this as a career path?
Lara Zankoul: I started photographing at the age of 21. It started out as a hobby, then things escalated bigger than I’ve imagined. I left my career in business at the age of 26 to pursue photography as a full time activity. I was interested in photography since I was a child, fashion pictures in magazines appealed to my eyes and I dreamed of being able to take them one day. Despite studying economics at university (which looked like a safe and secure choice back then), photography ended up becoming my career. Following my passion was the best choice I’ve ever made.
Times of Youth: Who are your favorite classic photographers, and how did they influence you?
Lara Zankoul: Tim Walker motivated me to make the impossible, possible. Annie Leibovitz inspired me by her boldness and her raw imagery.
Times of Youth: How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of your camera to look on the film just the way you want?
Lara Zankoul: My photography is all about staging sets from scratch. I like to control every element in the image and this needs a lot of research, preparation and production. I start by imagining the scene in my mind, and then I attempt to execute it by choosing the most accurate location, props, light, wardrobe, etc. Once my set is ready, I direct the model in a way to reach the composition I have in mind.
Times of Youth: Tell us more about your association with Ayyam Gallery.
Lara Zankoul: I am currently represented exclusively and internationally by Ayyam Gallery. After winning a competition they launched online in 2012, I joined their incubator program and have been associated with them since then.
Times of Youth: Of all the Young Collector’s Auctions that you’ve attended in Dubai, which has been the most unforgettable?
Lara Zankoul: So far only my works have attended these auctions. I was never able to fly to Dubai to attend yet. However to answer your question, the first one was the most memorable; it was a new adrenaline-rushing experience to [virtually] watch my work being auctioned. I was so nervous and excited at the same time.
Times of Youth: We noticed that most of your muses are women which are shot in surrealism; any specific reason of this choice?
Lara Zankoul: My earlier works featured only women in surreal and dreamy sets. Now that I think of it, these women represented me as well as my research for freedom and liberation. I found in photography a big escape, and I was expressing it without being aware.
Times of Youth: Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Lara Zankoul: The Zoo. The concept and execution were a big step out of my comfort zone but it allowed me to grow and succeed.
Times of Youth: What is the first word that comes to your mind when you read the following-
Times of Youth: One of today’s main discussion points amongst photographers is about the use of digital photography; what is the influence of newer technology on your photography?
Lara Zankoul: The invention of new tools allows me to increase my productivity to some extent, new cameras give out images that require less post processing, many tools can now be controlled from the camera directly, which makes the process faster and easier.
Times of Youth: What advice/message do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
Lara Zankoul: Find your own identity and stay true to yourself.
Times of Youth: Do tell us how fans can contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions.
Lara Zankoul: By email: [email protected] or through social media channels : Facebook | Instagram | Twitter