“…this project is homage to my grandmother who wasn’t into art, but taught me love and being attentive to others,” says photographer Anna Laza to The Phoblographer in an interview. “She was a doctor in a small village of Romania and had a talent for feeling the body and its needs. There’re more meanings in my photography, which I let the viewers read themselves.” Anna’s work is prime conceptual photography. This is a creative project that moves beyond simply capturing a scene. It catapults itself into the surreal and develops a symbiotic relationship within a sea of emotions and feelings.
It’s easy to be fascinated with Anna’s work. She leans into black and white with her Metaphysical Body Landscapes project and finds ways to make the body resemble the land around us. She uses very specific lighting and contrasts to make us consider what parts of nature these photos resemble. At times you feel as if you’re looking at a photo straight from a drone and converted to monochrome. At other times, you’re transported to some hills in the desert. But throughout the project, Anna does a fantastic job of keeping us aware of the idea that these are landscapes, made through the body. It ultimately reminds us of our own connection to nature.
It made me wonder how this series would’ve and could’ve worked in color with body paint. And Anna explains why to us.
“One level of perception is aesthetical. The curves of a woman’s body remind the landscapes, whether it is mountains, streams and valleys, fruits, ears or buds.”
The Essential Photography Gear of Anna Laza
“I was using a Canon 7D with 50mm lenses and a set of 3 to 5 impulse lamps for the series. This camera has been with me for many years and I know its possibilities.”
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you first got into photography.
Anna Laza: My way into photography started as being a model. The world of professional photographers is small even in a big city. I had and still have good friends among them. So that’s how approximately 15 years ago I got introduced to photography. But I always had more interest in the technical side and shooting process than modeling. So I got my first camera and started to search for my style in the universe of photography.
Phoblographer: What made get into conceptual work like bodyscapes?
Anna Laza: In the project “Metaphysical Body Landscapes” there are several messages I wanted to reveal. So the conceptual art style suited the best.
One level of perception is aesthetical. The curves of a woman’s body remind the landscapes, whether it is mountains, streams and valleys, fruits, ears or buds.
Another level is spiritual. The woman’s body gives birth, it is very strong and very fragile at the same time. It is giving support and matures you from the first days of your life. You might not remember that, but some part of you knows the comfort of a mother’s body. You were very small and the body was like a huge unknown but gracious landscape for you. The same with Nature landscapes. Men came from the earth, live on earth, and will return to earth. We are small in comparison to the landscapes as we were when we were born. Our human and our natural landscapes can be easily damaged, they suffer when carrying too much. So both of them should be treated with care.
Also, this project is homage to my grandmother who wasn’t into art but taught me love and to be attentive to others. She was a doctor in a small village of Romania and had a talent for feeling the body and its needs.
There’re more meanings in my photography, which I let the viewers read themselves. These give a greater variety of interpretations.
Phoblographer: These bodyscapes are of the various women you photographed. What were you looking for when selecting the models?
Anna Laza: The concept of the series best-suited women with pale skin. I was searching for thin models with an exact body type, many of them connected to sports. Specific angles also helped in reinforcing an angularity I sought.
Phoblographer: You say you grew up in cities your entire life but were yearning for the landscapes and nature. Do you feel there’s also a bit of the “city girl” in these photos? How can we see that? You’re influenced by nature for this, but have any other photographers or artists influenced the work we see here?
Anna Laza: The series “Metaphysical Body Landscapes” is about nature and our deep connection with it. My wish was to take images from my mind to the world and challenge myself with this task. There are no concrete artists who inspired me, it came as a deep wish to show the beautiful landscapes of beloved Romania in a metaphysical and fresh way.
The landscape photographers I like most are Sebastiao Salgado and Ansel Adams. What I like in their work and what I tried to put in my project is the sublimity of nature.
Phoblographer: Why make it black and white? Did you ever consider maybe painting your body and photographing it to look like the landscapes?
Anna Laza: From the beginning, I saw my body of work in monochrome as it represents eternity and the imperishability of landscapes. Thousands of years pass by, but these shapes remain the same. And slowly they transform into another shape of the body. This process is never-ending. The black here symbolizes the deep sky of outer space.
Phoblographer: When you were working on the final edit, what determined whether an image made it into the final project or not?
Anna Laza: The series consists of 120 images. It was a challenge shooting and searching for specific individual peculiarities of the model. With intuition to see what landscape is hidden in her body and try to make it visible on the camera. Now I can say with certainty that each body has something unique.
Phoblographer: How do you feel the pandemic has affected you creatively? And how do you feel you’re evolving?
Anna Laza: As I’m doing intellectual photography that is more about reflection than connecting to many people, so the pandemic didn’t really affect me in an artistic way. Now I’m shooting several projects for which I carefully search models and build trustful relations. In some way, I think limits boost creativity and can be good for an artist. Genius is always simple.
“As I’m doing intellectual photography that is more about reflexion than connecting to many people, so the pandemic didn’t really affect me in an artistic way.”
“Metaphysical Body Landscapes” Artistic Statement
My childhood I’ve spent at my grandmother’s house in Romania, near the Carpathian Mountains. Seeing human’s strong bond with the earth, observing nature, landscapes around influenced my understanding of earth beauty and men’s connection with it.
All being is something whole, indivisible. Earth, sky, plants, fruits, mountains, rivers, men, women, day, night- all merge together and flow into each other. This process is infinite and harmonious. Men came from the earth, lives on earth and will return to earth. And landscapes of the earth are seen in body curves.
Growing up I moved to live in big cities, my grandmother passed away and I felt loss of spiritual connection with nature.
To reconnect I start to search the Landscapes in body in my photography.
Anna Laza is an influential visual artist working in Art and Fashion photography. Her projects are focused on finding new innovative style both shooting and post processing. Her work has been rewarded and exhibited internationally in many countries around the world, she has won in a number of famous photo contests, including LensCulture, MonoVisions and Minimalist Awards. She is often published in photography magazines and regularly appears on prestigious jury lists for photographic events.