Every month, in our new franchise behind the lens, we’ll get to know the women behind the beautiful images that fill the pages of the magazine and illustrate our online storytelling at Harper’s Bazaar. From celebrity covers to fairytale fashion editorials, every image is lovingly captured by one of our talented visionary photographers, without whom the brand wouldn’t be what it is today.
This month, we shine the spotlight on photographer Marta Lamovsek, known for her vibrant pictorial collaborations with Vivienne Westwood. His work has also been featured in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and identifier.
After training at Central Saint Martins, Lamovsek’s two-decade career has seen her photograph a variety of subjects, from royals to truck drivers; and at the heart of her practice, she says, is the desire to capture a person’s essence, an element of their soul, and portray it with the spirit of an icon. Until April 17 you can see some of the dynamic portraits of her ‘I am a woman: Sovereign by nature‘ collection on display at Me London.
How did you come to photography?
“I grew up under communist Yugoslavia with two very young working-class parents. We lived near the forest and I was naturally very creative. I remember drawing portraits of different girls in my notebooks, but my overwhelmed parents were unaware of the importance of this creativity and never encouraged it. My family’s educational motto was “Work is Liberation”, and art was never considered work. Maybe because my natural creative impulses were so suppressed that I became a very rebellious teenager.
“When I was 22 and living in my hometown of Ljubljana in Slovenia, I felt lost and aimless. I was studying public finance, although I had no passion for it. There had no inspirational figure or mentor who could recognize my creative soul.Then one day I went to a cafe with a friend – a part-time work colleague, who was, like me, introspective – who mentioned to me that he had bought paints to start painting. This idea of ”I’m going to start painting” triggered something huge in me: I fainted, I glanced at the wall of the cafe where I noticed a framed photo, and a voice came through me saying, ‘I think I need to start photography.’ When I said it I had a strong inner knowing that this was my life path. A week later I had my first 35mm camera and so was a love affair of my life began more than two decades ago.
What was your first photography job or commission?
“I had just been experimenting with my camera for a few weeks when I had the opportunity to get published in print. My sister got involved with a new music magazine and immediately recognized my talent. She took a big risk and gave me the assignment to photograph a popular musician in the country for the interview I was scared to death because I had no experience but somehow following my instinct , I chose the location of an abandoned swimming pool for this shoot and the photos were so good that one of them ended up on a blanket, no one suspected that I was a total newbie.
What was the shoot that changed your career?
“Photographs are powerful messages and it’s fascinating to see how just one can be ‘the right one’. I feel like this photo to me is “Ashiq The Rockstar”. I had an inner calling to portray the workers of Dubai, the Pakistani workers who have a huge role to play in the success of Dubai as a spectacle, but they were invisible, voiceless. I wanted not only to have them seen by a wide audience, but to honor them in exhibitions where their portraits are more real than life; where they will appear so strikingly beautiful that no one will look away. I wanted to spark a conversation about them and raise awareness of social injustice.
“When I met Ashiq, a young Pashtun father from northern Pakistan, he was very shy, with a very gentle aura – and a very distinctive hairstyle. When I got it on camera, I peeked at the camera screen while testing the lighting, and couldn’t hide my excitement at what I had. seen. I saw that my elevated emotions boosted Ashiq’s confidence. The very second picture I took of him was “it”.
Can you tell me about your work with Vivienne Westwood?
“Even before I moved to London to study postgraduate photography at Central Saint Martins in 2009, I dreamed of working with Vivienne Westwood – she never ceases to be my number one inspirational icon. After my graduation show, my friend Kiko Gaspar got a job at Westwood’s Conduit Street office – and when they were looking for new talent, my portfolio was sent among other potential people to shoot the Anglomania line, and they chose me. Filming took place in the dressing rooms of their Mayfair boutique, and the attitude was “let it rock”.
Who or what do you find interesting subjects to photograph?
“For me, I see it from a perspective that every person has the potential to inspire my creative process and teach me about the world and about myself. I love photographing anyone – as long as I have no particular requirements on the future of the person. This allows total freedom in my artistic approach – it is enough to be guided by my intuition for the magic to happen because it is above all a question of “magic when it comes to my work. I am inspired by a person’s unseen majestic self – which I can enhance and transform into an archetype that I feel it channels.
What makes a good photo?
“For me, a good photo does one or all of these things:
1/ It lights a fire in your soul. You can’t put your finger on it, but you feel something inside you has changed when you look at the picture.
2/ It makes you curious about what you are looking at. You are curious to know more about the creator and you are curious about the subject.
3/ It opens your heart and brings out the inner core of your humanity in the middle of a mundane Monday morning.
4/ It uplifts your spirit – your senses are uplifted and filled with gratitude. You silently appreciate the artist who reminded you of the magic of being alive.
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