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.’
In school, Vic shot pictures on film, and she still primarily works with analogue techniques. ‘With analogue, the whole process feels so special. Every image feels thoroughly considered, and you have to follow a series of steps to get there. I like the time that you spent alone, say, in a darkroom. Whereas with digital, it feels like a bit of the magic of photography is gone – you can just shoot so much more, and the images don’t have the same feeling or texture.’ She adds that with analogue, you can get mistakes, which can be ‘one of the most beautiful things. I’m still excited about going to pick up film and seeing the results every time.’
After school, Vic went to art school in Brighton, where she also took the first pictures that made her proud. During her final year of university, she did a project with gay male friends who had done sex work. ‘Some of these portraits I was really proud of, but I don’t think they went down that well at my uni’, Vic remembers laughing. She explains that she wanted to work differently than how it was expected from students: for Vic, having to give a lot of context and conceptual background for her pictures took some of the joy out. ‘I always wanted to capture and have a story, not give it a whole meaning behind it.’
With that project, Vic also started exploring themes of queer identity, gender fluidity, and self-expression with her work. ‘This is what I’m passionate about, and it really comes from the heart. It’s partly political, partly my world, and I also want to shine a light on LGBTQ+ issues by documenting them in a sensitive and compassionate way.’
When she left art school, it was like she had entered the real world. ‘I suddenly was an adult – although I didn’t feel like one – and I realised that I wanted to work as a photographer and tell people’s stories.’ To figure out how to do that, Vic took a few years off, doing internships and side jobs – working hard to turn her dream of being a professional photographer into reality. Now, she’s based in London and has worked with well-known clients like Louis Vuitton, British Vogue, NET-A-PORTER, and Dazed.
Kai for Dazed
Kai for Vogue
Vic’s pictures feel very intimate, and make Martin wonder how she gains the trust of the people she’s photographing. ‘I think that I’m quite an empathetic person’, Vic tells him. ‘I always approach my work sensitively, from a place of understanding and compassion. I try and make sure that people feel comfortable on set, and I think about how I would feel in their position.’ She says that from simply chatting to people and making sure they’re comfortable, you can get back amazing results and images.
What’s up next for Vic? Some projects that she’s very excited about, including a big personal one: a portraiture series about lesbian people, which she hopes will culminate into a gallery exhibition and party in London. Apart from that, she wants to keep working with video, which she has just started exploring – and with music. It has not only inspired her first pictures but also still influences her: ‘When I’m working – whether in the darkroom or at home editing –, the music I’m listening to has a huge impact on my mood, so it has to be right.’ Orlando Weeks, Aldous Harding, and Adrianne Lenker are some of her recent favourites. ‘Directing music videos would be amazing.’