Growing up between forests and cornfields, Lissy Laricchia became involved with photography at around 13 years old. Since then she has been creating levitation imagery and juxtaposing themes to the fullest content of her heart. Having never studied photography as an art form, Lissy sets high standards for herself and pursues them with a vengeance. Believing that photography should be created out of emotion, rather than technicality, her images often depict humans juxtaposed in various locations and positions to tell a story. Below is our interview with Lissy, speaking all things inspiration, photography and working with models.
Hi there Lissy how are you?
I’m great! I’m sitting in the lobby of the Ace Hotel with a peppermint mocha from the Starbucks down the street so I’m probably doing one step past great.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became involved with photography…
I grew up between a forest and a cornfield and spent most of my time alone. I left school at age 8 when my mother found out that it was perfectly legal for me to, and I haven’t written a test, sat in a classroom, or been bored out of my mind since. I did however find photography between the ages of 13 and 14. After years of creative writing, drawing and playing guitar and having nothing come out quite right, I found an outlet for the things in my mind that made me feel just a little less alone, and I pursued it with a vengeance.
Do you come from a creative background?
Both of my parents are engineers. This information surprises most people as they like to paint a picture of my family as a gang of unruly hippes given our educational choices, but in fact I have a background of intelligent, down-to-earth, and open-minded people even though few of them have had visually artistic careers.
You have a very profound understanding for colour and composition, were you self taught or did you study in a photography course?
I’ve never studied photography, but sometimes it feels that way. I set deadlines and very high bars for myself. The moment I found photography it was never a hobby for me, never a ‘let’s see how this goes’ it was the only thing I wanted to do and the only thing I could see myself doing and I wanted to be the absolute best I could be at it, and I am still trying.
What is the most important element about a photograph?
An emotion, no matter how clichéd that might sound. You can always tell if someone created a piece from a technical place or an emotional place. You can do everything right in terms of lighting and composition and still make a flat and dull photograph. I want to see what you were feeling and what you were thinking and why I should care. If you don’t care then I don’t care.
What type of camera do you use?
I use a Mark II 5D, frequently with a 35mm.
What are five things you wish you were told before starting photography?
These kinds of questions send me into over-drive. I think about all the things people could have told me, and what effect they would have had on my future. But I like where I am now and what I did to get here, so I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes I do wish when I was especially down on myself and my work that someone would have patted me on the back and said “I appreciate your effort. It will pay off soon.” Oh, and “Always use your own stock images.”
In terms of technique and style, you like to use levitation photography and each of your photographs almost evoke a sense of dreaming. What are some helpful pointers when trying achieve this technique?
Fall asleep in an armchair by the fire on your mother’s lap, begin to have a strange and magical dream, never wake up.
What is one of your favourite photographs that you have taken?
I love all of my images in their own specific way. My favourite photos are often times candid images of my best friends at sunrise on a cross-country roadtrip, or a blurry image taken at 1am on a rooftop in Brooklyn.
What is it like working with models you haven’t worked with before. Do you think it’s crucial to establish a working relationship with the people you photograph?
Definitely, if not an even more personal one! I enjoy shooting friends above all else, and I normally plan concepts around specific people instead of planning shoots and finding the subject afterwards. I love to pull from peoples personalities when I create concepts for them, so it helps to know them first and foremost!
Did other photographers inspire you for your fine art style?
When I first got into photography I was very inspired by Tim Walker and I think it shows in my colouring and depth of field in my older work especially. However I’ve moved away from shooting at 1.8 and now frequently shoot at an f-stop of 22 if I can manage it, but my love for primary colours and bright pastels has remained throughout my career, inadvertently thanks to Tim Walker. When we’re first starting out we want to create the images that we see, and slowly as we try out different styles we develop our own by pulling something from every single thing that inspires us.
What was it like working on Alice Found Some Shiny Things, The Drop & How Alice Hides?
My older images are self-portraits that I took while in my childhood home, alone with my tripod and remote and imagination. What’s interesting is they all come from very different eras of my adolescence. ” Alice Found Some Shiny Things” is an image from my first 365 (a project where you take a photo every day for a year) around the time I started to develop my own style and push myself to take my photography to a professional level. “The Drop” came from the year after my first 365 where I felt lost in my photography without the structure and discipline of the project that I spent so long applying myself to. And “How Alice Hides” came from my second 365 that I started after my year long break. I took a far less structural approach and let myself have more room to breathe and experiment and not put so much pressure on myself.
You also photograph in the style of fashion and beauty. What are some usual things that happen on the day of the shoot?
Me running around with an assortment of tulle and strange objects, explaining concepts and moods to models, showing off reference images on my broken laptop and wandering off alone taking test shots.
Where do you hope to go in the future with your photography?
Everywhere. I’d like to continue doing gallery work and commissioned work and get paid to travel. I want to live in every city and know what they all look like from tiny plane windows at 5 in the morning. I want to live out of a van with a small group of friends and photograph the things in the world that I find the most beautiful.
Finally, if you could summarise your entire collection of work and what you do in under a sentence, what would it say?
A living, breathing, ever-changing dream.
If you had one chance to speak to every single person in the world at the same time through a P.A system, what would you say?
“Would the owner of the silver Toyota Camry please move your vehicle you’re about to be towed.” (It would create mass confusion I could then photograph)
If you were given the option to have coffee and chat with a notable person such as a famous photographer, writer or actor (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Tim Walker, because 16-year-old Lissy would never forgive me if I said anyone else.
Journalist: Tanysha Bolger
Photographer Interviewed: Lissy Elle