THE LIFE OF LINA SCHEYNIUS
This former model-turned-photographer produces sublimely intimate portraits, rising to prominence after posting personal pics online. Using friends, family and herself as subjects, her images flirt with eroticism and banality in equal measures, creating an aesthetic some have dubbed “truth as fantasy.”
LJY: You are originally from Trollhättan in Sweden, what was it like growing up there?
LS: In some ways magical because I was very free to go out on my own and explore.
It was very safe and there were loads of forests around to play in. I was out playing on my own from the age of four. But in some ways it wasn't that great at all. I always had a sense that I was a little different and didn't fit in and that is a hard thing in a small town.
LJY: Now you're living in London, how does the city inspire you?
LS: I feel most at home and free in London. I love how big the city is and how I can just get lost in it and be anonymous. And I have great friends here that inspire me.
LJY: Your photography is often described as “truth as fantasy.” If there's a Lina Scheynius wonderland, what is it be like?
LS: It would just be nature as it is. Nature is wonderland.
LJY: Your personal work is like a diary-documentary. When you look back at those photos, do you remember what happened the very moment you clicked?
LS: I actually don't. There is a photo of mine that is very popular of me and my ex-boyfriend kissing. I always thought I was holding the camera, but a few years ago I looked at it and noticed that he might be holding the camera, but I just can't remember.
LJY: What’s your obsession?
LS: Playing Super Nintendo.
LJY: Do you approach your self-portraiture different to taking other people's portraits?
LS: Yes, definitely. I am more free to tell myself to do anything that I want, no matter how silly. There is no anxiety about crossing the line with the subject or making the subject feel safe and comfortable.
LJY: Your personal photos are all quite intimate. Is anyone ever shy in front of your camera, despite that they're are your friends and family?
LS: I have many more close friends than the ones you see in the photographs. Some people just don't want to have a camera in their face in intimate situations, and I have to respect that. Some people are more open.
LJY: Of all people, dead or alive, who would you most like to shoot?
LS: I would love to photograph Kate Moss. I am not doing much fashion anymore, but I would love to have shot her. And then there are a ton of people (dead and alive) I would love to meet, but that's another story.
LJY: You were once on the other side of the lens. Did you experience as a model influence your photography in anyway?
LS :Mainly in terms of me working out what I don't want to do. It also gave me great insight into the industry. It can be quite a scary industry so it was great for me when I started to already know how things worked. I think I also started doing my first really raw self-portraits as a response to the modelling job and a way of coping with it. I wasn't very successful at the time and I had been told to lose weight and that's when I brought out my camera and photographed my imperfect self as it was without make-up or lights or expensive clothes.
LJY: You mentioned that everything started with your Flickr; how has your digital exploration developed? Are you very excited about the possibility of all the different digital media you can use for digital storytelling or is print still the primary output for you?
LS: I feel very free when it comes to the Internet. At the moment I can post what I want the way I want to and that's what I love about it. I also love how many people I can reach this way. But there is something great about seeing your work in print, too. The pictures sort of get a new life - a second life - that way which always excites me. And I love making my books, too. I just finished the seventh one.
LJY: With the digital explosion, everyone is a photographer or blogger in a way; do you think the format of photos will be used up and transformed into something else?
LS: I think photos are great for getting a strong point across quickly and as long as they can be produced they will be. I cannot see video taking over. You need patience to watch a video and people have less and less of that online. But the presentation of photos and the different ways available to produce them is changing so rapidly that I have no idea where we will end up. It's exciting. Frightening in many ways, too though. I worry about children growing up with their family album online accessible to the whole world. What will this do to them? I also worry about how much time we spend in front of screens being bombarded with what is often junk. Sorry, not sure I answered this question; it's a complicated one.