Hansy is a film photographer who produced a photo book with images collected over the past six years. We sat down with her and talked about how she came up with Night Animals and her creative thought process.
How did you start doing photography?
I studied film, animation and video. Under that department, there is a sub department called open media- where I did installation arts and I applied video arts along with installations in a certain space.
After my first year’s summer break, my friend asked if I wanted to see a show for New York fashion week. I never knew what a fashion week was and I was never really interested. I went because it was “free”, but soon realized my friend didn’t tell me that I had to work. While I was working backstage, I was always carrying a camera with me. I just started taking photos of the backstage scenes for Siki Im. I posted it on my blog and then I shared it on Twitter. Siki Im retweeted that and from then on, I realized there is an entire scene of fashion street photography and backstage photography.
What is the idea behind your first photo book, Night Animals?
I’ve done this series for six years. I was only posting this on Instagram and nowhere else. I’ve tried posting it on Tumblr but I am not very good with keeping up to date. If I have more than one social media, it’s just out of my control. I don’t do multi-tasking. I realised how instant Instagram was. It’s all about showing people how I am doing and it’s a good medium to promote yourself but it’s not good for your work to only exist there.
I wanted my work to exist physically and not only on Instagram or any other internet platform because that is very virtual. I wanted to give body to my work. That was the main goal for the book.
Who inspires you?
Well, photography wise- it just came to me naturally because even when I was in middle and high school, I’ve always had a film camera with me. So I was recording my daily life.
I started curating stuff for my Tumblr page with photos that I liked and since I was also taking my own film photographs I thought, let’s see what I can do with them. It gradually built up. I think I get more influence through movies, paintings, or my experiences in certain spaces.
The most influence I had was last year, when I went to Berlin. I didn’t know what to do photography wise but I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I went to this gallery in Frankfurt. There was a whole room dedicated to Wolfgang Tillmans and then I realised that he’s a photographer who does fashion photography on the side.
I went to an art exhibition in 2015 in London and there was this installation artist called Carsten Holler. Hayward gallery was covered with his work. Everything in the installation was about presenting an experience and giving patrons the choice on which experience to have. That was inspiring to me. It’s been three years and I still consider that to be the best exhibition I have been to, thus I want the person to have an experience with my book.
Everyone has a different approach to a book. For me, if I hold a magazine, I don’t read. I look at the photos first or see if there is a drawing or something. If I get a book, it’s just about the pages or the smell and it’s all different. My aim in everything I produce is to create a specific experience. I don’t want it to be like a sh*tty experience or just something casually cheap. I want to leave an imprint. I am still trying to figure that out.
Describe an unforgettable experience during the making of Night Animals!
They are all kind of memorable in a way. I guess, it’s the guy who was sleeping in the tub! I was walking to a park and wanted to take a nap there, and I saw a guy in a tub. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is gold!’ I needed a photo of that. I’m pretty sure he was very drunk. He was sleeping very soundly.
Not only you’re a photographer, you’re a hand poke tattoo artist! Tell us how you came across with that.
I have been drawing and painting longer than I’ve been doing photography. Even when I was little, I was scribbling. My mother is a sculptor and she would give me watercolors as christmas presents. I missed doing tactile stuff. Everything I was doing was on the computer. Like making videos.
I started painting again last year in October. It wasn’t a good time for everyone around me so I was drawing and painting on canvas for meditative reasons. A year back, I was doing retouches with a sewing needle and then I realised I could have my work transferred onto someone else’s skin or even my own skin.
First, I started hand poke with Night Animals. So it was offered to anyone to wanted to be tattooed. It was a little present for the people who have partied with me every night or those who spent the night having long conversations with me.
Is there a certain message or type of symbolism in your photographs?
I liked taking photographs of these people because of the specific situation they were in. I don’t enjoy taking posed photographs. I am more drawn into the people who don’t really care about the camera. Those are kind of the photos that I have taken here. There could be a certain message. All the photos are technically my interaction with the figure. Most of them are my friends, some of them, I don’t even know like the guy in the tub. There are meanings for me but it’s not for everyone.
When photographing a subject, what do you tend to focus on?
I take the moment and then, I crop it later. I focus more on the body language of the person. That’s my way of approaching my post-work. I know it’s going to come out good. For me it’s more like, ‘Oh I need to take this’, and I do everything else later.
The trend of nostalgia and vintage has taken off and anyone can pick up film photography. How do you define the title of a photographer? Do you think that film photography is overrated and is losing its appeal?
I do believe that the lines have been blurred a lot. There are so many people on Instagram, labelling themselves as photographers. I look at it like a look at other fields; Do you want a Michelin Star restaurant or do you want fast food? If you have to choose, what would you get? It would have to be delicious with good ingredients and good spices and you’re looking for quality. That’s my way of seeing it. Because anyone can be a photographer if they have the right vision but it’s just people’s opinion.
Anyone can take photos but not everyone can execute a specific vision. There is always going to be a person who is trying to do what the other people are doing but it’s not going to work. It’s not going to be their own style. It’s always going to change. Maybe it is overrated.
Any advices you can give for aspiring photographers?
If you have your own vision, just do what you need to do. And if you are doing it and if it’s working then it’s good. If not, you just keep doing it. It doesn’t really matter what you take photos of as long as you execute your vision well.
Fill in the blank: Hansy is _______.