This post is part of the “Broad Strokes” series, highlighting the work of female photographers and Leica. This exhibition will take place at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles, from April 2nd until May 2nd as the Official Exhibition of Month of Photography Los Angeles. It includes works from Tanya Alexis, Lesa Amoore, Cira Crowell, Sandra de Keller, Lisa Leone, Eva Napp and Tasya van Ree. We gathered with Eva and talked about her involvement with Broad Strokes, the “long road home”, her views on new feminism and her perspectives on American identity.
As a Leica user, what’s your equipment and how would you describe your photography?
I use the Leica M (Typ 240). It’s the M-P version without the Logo which I really like. I think it’s great that Leica offers this “low-key” version. The whole idea of the M Camera for me is to be able to shoot more unnoticed. I am 35mm lens person. I love the framing of this classic reportage lens. I always have a UV filter on it so I can just throw the camera in my bag without the lens hood cover on. This way if I want to photograph something I’m ready to go. I use a circular polarizer filter when I’m shooting landscapes. This gives the sky a really beautiful deep tone which I love.
My photography happens instinctively and by impulse. With shoots, you have to plan ahead, but it’s just the basics that I lay out. What happens the day of, are actions that stem from a gut feeling of what is right, what needs to be done and also when to stop. I am a photographer who doesn’t dwell around an image for more then what is needed. If I have the shot I want, I know it and go on to the next. I don’t like taking up everyone’s time just for the hell of stretching it out and making it feel important through that. I am a quick shooter.
Quality is more important than the quantity of the photos that you take. The Leica M is the perfect companion for me for this very reason. She works like me. Very intuitive yet making you take more time to for each frame. You end up with less images to go through but every one will mean more than if you take thousands of automated shots.
How did you get involved with the Broad Strokes project and exhibition?
I was visiting the Leica Gallery for a talk with the photographer Matt Stuart. My friend overheard Paris (Chong) talk about the upcoming exhibition which was supposed to be about female photographers from L.A. He whipped out his iPad and showed her my latest project “The Long Road Home” which I had shot with my new Leica M. Paris loved the images and we started talking through email. I was so excited and grateful for her to give me the chance to exhibit.
What was the curation process like? What are these images about?
By coincidence, all of our photographs from the Broad Strokes show play in the general field of “New Americana”. Different aspects and views of an “American identity”. My project was a road trip I did from L.A. to Texas and back. I asked Paris to go through the images with me. I was curious which ones she would choose. And she actually chose exactly the ones that I thought would be fitting too. It was great to see that her and I were on the same page. We chose a mix of still lives, portraits and landscapes to get an interesting mix.
Talking about your influences and the particular interest in American life and identity, what’s your perspective and background on this?
I have greatly been influenced by the masters of the New American Color Photography from the 60s and 70s such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Joel Meyerowitz (who also happens to be a big Leica enthusiast). For someone living in Europe, these images were very unfamiliar scenes. For Americans they probably showed “simple” everyday images. But for me they embodied the American Dream in a sense. They cultivated the idea of taking road trips and the freedom that comes from that.
The colors and the light in those photographs are simply amazing to me. I can drive for hours and be astonished by the ever changing landscape of the North American continent or the flickering neon lights in the cities. Living in California, it’s a photographer’s dream. I am so grateful for the quality of the light that we have here.
Many of the conversations happening right now include diversity in the workforce and in the media. What’s your perception towards women photographers in the field?
I thought it was an amazing idea to have a show that showed only female photographers. On one hand it’s a tough job as a female photographer, on the other hand it can work in your favor. I have worked the red carpet as a press photographer which is very tough. It’s almost a completely male dominated field and they don’t take you serious because you are a female photographer. But this “not taking you seriously” can also be seen as a good thing, meaning that you are less intimidating as a photographer and therefore can get closer to the subject and get more intimate results.
I absolutely love working with an all female team (hair, makeup, stylist)! It feels like we are a group of friends and the atmosphere is very relaxed, leading to better images. It’s very important that we as woman realize that we have great power together and that we should cherish each other’s company instead of trying to work against each other. I think we are at an important time in history regarding “new feminism”. We are getting away from the old school extremist view of feminists that women are struggling and that we have to fight our way up. Instead we are slowly embracing our collectivity as women and our subtle yet powerful voice that we have through that.
You usually do lifestyle and fashion photography, what is your creative process when starting out a new project?
I usually don’t start a project, the project comes to me. I always take my camera wherever I go. Some projects are photos of different times and locations that I put together afterwards. I learned a lot about editing during my time at Central St. Martins which has helped me immensely. For me, starting a project is editing photos not taking the photos. Through the editing and curating process, an idea and story will form which i work on perfecting.
What other projects are you working on and is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?
During my Masters Degree my final project was called “Where the Magic happens”. I photographed brothels, swinger clubs and sex trade shows. The whole series was about the public/commercial and private/intimate aspects of sexuality; spectacle and voyeurism. My Master thesis was about the sexualization of women in mass media. Now I am circling back to the subject and in the next coming months I am working on a portrait project with “retired” adult actresses. It comes back to the idea of “new feminism”, showing the strong sides of these women but in a vulnerable and feminine way. We are now in a position where we don’t have to try to be masculine and emotionless anymore to be powerful. We can appreciate our soft female side and still be strong. That’s a very exciting project I am looking forward to.
Eva Napp is a people, lifestyle and fashion photographer based in Los Angeles, California. She was born in South Korea, grew up in Germany and decided to jump the ocean and move to the U.S. in 2013.
After doing her Bachelor’s for 3 years in Communication Design, Eva was accepted at the prestigious Central St. Martins College of Art & Design in London where she graduated in 2010 with a Master’s Degree. Joining the ranks of fellow-alumni such as Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Richard Long, Antony Gormley and M.I.A.
When she isn’t busy shooting assignments, Eva loves taking her old Dodge Ram van named “Mr. Shulgin” out on the open road.