British Vogue, Louis Vuitton, Dazed, NET-A-PORTER – these are just a few of the clients that photographer Vic Lentaigne has already worked with. Based in London, she specialises in portrait photography and is keen on capturing intimate pictures of her selected group of subjects, exploring themes of queerness, gender fluidity, and identity. Our creative director Martin had a chat with Vic, and they talked about how she got into photography, her fascination with portraiture and analogue techniques, and the role of music.
‘Straight away when I picked up a camera for the first time, I knew that I wanted to photograph people’, says portrait photographer Vic Lentaigne looking back on how it all began. It was at the age of 14 that she had to take pictures at school and had regular access to a darkroom. Her first pictures showed her friends or were taken at concerts as she was ‘obsessed’ with The Horrors and indie bands. When Martin asks Vic what fascinates her about portraiture, she says that ‘it’s like capturing part of someone’s identity. It’s really nice when you can catch a fleeting moment or someone off-guard, when it’s not posed.’
Do you remember what sparked your interest in architecture?
After my first exploration with a camera, I consistently photographed abandoned buildings of different kinds – first in Italy and then in the rest of Europe. In the meantime, I developed a strong interest in the architectural styles from the second half of the 20th century. During a trip to document abandoned structures in the countries that were formerly part of Yugoslavia, I was amazed by the raw concrete buildings and monuments scattered all across the area. That was without any doubt the turning point in my photography.
Why did you decide to photograph modernist and brutalist architecture?
First of all, because of their look. Whether you like them or not, you can’t take your eyes off of their unconventional beauty and their powerful visual impact. Architectural styles tell a lot about an era and its artistic value, and they show the idea of modernity of a country – even of countries that don’t exist anymore, like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. These buildings have futuristic shapes, they are located in the present context, and their facades, which are often ruined and untouched, make them look like they’re stuck in the past. It’s a very interesting mix that I love to photograph as a whole.
And of course the materiality of raw concrete is unique.
How do you plan your photography trips?
Before traveling for my photography, I spend a lot of time searching buildings online, in books, and using satellite images to explore large areas of countries. I then create a very detailed map with the coordinates of the structures and the best time to photograph them, using specific apps to determine the time of the day with the most suitable light. This can take days or even weeks, but it really helps with doing a great job on site and enables me to see a huge amount of buildings in a small number of days.
What’s your routine to get a good shot?
I take my time to observe the building to get familiar with it and to detect the most impressive angles. Then, I open my tripod and enjoy the process of creating a balanced and powerful composition.
What’s your favourite building in Milan?
Without any doubt, the complex of houses and offices by Luigi Moretti, built between 1949 and 1955. A real masterpiece of modernist architecture, way ahead of its time.