TPL: You are a woman of many talents. We happen to know that among other occupations, you are also a fashion model yourself. How do you think this experience of being the subject of photography has influenced you as a photographer?
LM: I have empathy for my subjects and I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable by taking their photo; that held me back from street photography for a long while but since venturing into this genre I've developed a code for my street photography, for example, I keep a distance (using my 85mm lens on my crop sensor camera I get pretty close from afar), I don't photograph people in vulnerable states or situations and if anybody would say or show that they don't want me to take their photo I would respect that and if they would ask me to delete their image I would instantly do so.
A while ago I did a project shooting mannequins, the aim being giving life and a context to that inanimate object, making them a subject, with emotions, dreams, fears and hopes, with a past and a future, not just this thing that you see in the moment, and that is connected to my modelling background.
Since I started taking street photos it has been on my mind as to what extent my modelling background influences my aesthetic; what I find beautiful, what draws me in, and recently I went to see an exhibition by a photographer, who, like me, also started out as a fashion model - and she ponders the very same question!
One thing we have in common is that we both tend to photograph women more often than men and neither of us have any clear answers as to why. I do think that for me it partly has to do with, like in my mannequin project, wanting to depict women as subjects, not objects, and to add to this I like writing accompanying stories to make the viewer/reader see the photo - and the subject - in a very different way than they would be culturally conditioned to do.
I have considered whether I'm not just conforming to the norm, in the sense of adopting the male gaze, detecting female beauty and depicting it, that being the aim of the photo, but, I don't feel that I am. Although, at times it may be interpreted that way; I recall an amusing example where I was photographing a woman standing quite close by and a young man standing behind me suddenly cried out "Legs, legs, I see legs!" and was, if not upset but certainly felt it necessary to question what I was doing! I explained to him that I had noticed this woman, all dressed up but wearing flat sandals, carrying her super high heels in her hand, and I liked the scene, I found this woman's strategy, of conforming to the norm of 'looking good' in excruciatingly uncomfortable heels yet ensuring a comfortable walk home interesting, but the young man just assumed that I was a 'leg woman'!
Another way my modelling background has influenced me is that I want to depict beauty that is not posed and edited, like in a fashion or beauty editorial, and not a perfected social media selfie, filters and all; I want to show the everyday beauty in everyday moments; people thinking, talking, laughing, daydreaming, reading, discussing, flirting, hurrying; multi facetted people, leading their everyday lives; this to me is real beauty and I would love for people to see themselves that way too.