Photographers often try and take you to far-flung places with their images – Lina Zangers doesn’t just try, she truly goes to these places, and captures a bit of its essence with her camera. No matter if China, Sweden or Scotland, the Berlin-based photographer has seen a fair amount of impressive travel destinations, and there is no end in sight. Especially because Lina is as good at creating these worlds herself as she is at visiting them – and the shoot she did for neubau eyewear was no different. Putting together perfectly colour coordinated sets for our glasses, Lina once again proved she has as much of an eye for great scenery as she has for details. We caught up with her to talk all things composing an image, creativity, and of course traveling.
Looking at your photos, there seems to be a clear visual language drawing through them. How would you say you developed your style?
I think it’s crucial to develop a personal visual language, but it’s most likely the hardest part of being a creative professional these days. It’s tricky to listen to your inner voice and not get distracted by the white noise of images surrounding us. Your personal style develops over time and practicing your craft shapes itself with each drawing, film or photo. The more I create, the more I am developing and redefining.
It seems you much more prefer the outdoors or on-location shooting than a plain studio – is that a conscious decision?
Absolutely, I need landscapes, houses or backyards to stage my stories. A white studio for me is a very artificial space, without influence to draw from. When the Berlin winter forces me to actually work inside I just create my own universe with loads of props or set design.
How does this influence your approach to composing an image, and ultimately telling a story?
For me telling a story is my starting point, not the location. I need to have an idea in my head of what story, feeling or emotion I want to provoke with the photos. Starting from there I’ll try to get all the right ingredients, starting with the right location, model, styling, makeup, light ect.
In general, do you prefer precisely planning a shoot or do you like to trust your spontaneity?
I learned that the more planning I put into a shooting the more I can stick to my idea at the actual shooting day. When you come to the set and only got a vague idea in mind, the chance that it gets blurred easily by circumstances happening are high and you end up with hopefully at least pretty pictures, but no backbone. When I plan a free editorial or an idea for a client I love to dig into the topic, research and find nuances about it that catch my interest. Then I’ll share my vision with the rest of the team, especially the stylist, before the actual shooting day. So everyone comes to set knowing what to expect and how to contribute to the theme. This can be real nerve-wracking, but that effort is what it makes it believable in the end.
Is there any place you visited or shot at that especially inspired you?
I spent all my childhood summers in Sweden’s countryside and I am still going there a lot, so that’s always a big source of inspiration for me. The light and nature play a big part in my work.
Last year I have been to China for the first time and also realised a shooting with a Chinese team there. I have to say, I was stunned and it got my creative synapses going.
And any place you’re just dying to travel to?
Wow, there are still so many on my bucket list. I am hoping for Russia and Mongolia in the near future.
If you could take three famous people – dead or alive – on this trip, who would that be; and what would you do together?
Then I would love to share a train compartment with them on the trans-sibirian railway. Spontaneously I would say I’ll bring Marina Abramovic, Sylvia Earle and Astrid Lindgren. I think that would be a great girl gang to chat with for 9000km.