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An Interview with @lilyoftheskies

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Lily Rose's photography (instagram - @lilyoftheskies) has the ability to make me ache with a profound longing for a time that may or may not be imagined. Her hazy polaroid photos of landscapes are exactly the sort of imagery I had in mind while reading The Secret Garden, mysterious yet barefaced, a snapshot of a particular moment in time that also captures something much more magnitudinal, so massive and revealing that it can't quite be placed and remains in a realm beyond my comprehension, as delightfully faded/misty as the photographs themselves.

Unlike most art that evokes feelings of reminiscence, Lily's photography does not feel removed at all. The Polaroid medium itself imparts a sort of instant nostalgia to the work, but Lily utilizes this to its full capacity, appearing to comment on how the preservation of a moment changes the way we experience it (in the same manner as Schrodinger's cat), which is what I find so intoxicating about her photos.

She strikingly describes (visually) the feeling of deciding how we want to remember events in our lives. Thus, her photos are both unforgivingly realistic and magnanimously fantastical. They exist in our world, and also create their own world, a sphere of memories with varying resemblances to what actually happened (if you even believe in the concept of objective reality). I am reminded of a Proust quote: “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” Lily’s work is somewhat solipsistic, exploring the depths of this gray area between the possibly nonexistent “true” way in which things occurred and the equally disputable glamorization of memory.

Where do you get inspiration from?

I get inspiration from many things, but I find it comes easily through music. I have a mild case of synesthesia in seeing colors in music. And depending on the type of music, it can manifest into seeing pastoral landscapes. It is probably a reason why I'm attracted to cinematic music. So often times I gravitate towards music that makes me feel as if I'm in another world. Recently I've been into "library music", often the type played in the background of old 70s nature documentaries. The warm audio sounds casts a sort of visual magic for me.

Why do you prefer analog to digital?

I prefer analog because it forces you to be in the moment. It also feels more "real".  And simply, you can't just delete it with a click of a button which makes it frustrating at times, but I like to take on such challenges. I do switch to my digital camera depending on the subject matter but I tend to shoot with my Polaroid  since it surprises me sometimes, in serendipitous ways.

What's something you've encountered in your life that you viewed as a symbol/sign?

I'm not sure if I've encountered something in my life that I would view as a symbol/sign. However, there was this time when my friend and I were leaving a roller rink in Harlem, NY on a cool, summer night and as we were walking down the stairs to the parking lot, there was a skunk that appeared only about twenty feet away from us. We were quite startled but kept a quiet distance from it and eventually it ran off into the bushes.  Later when I got home, my friend sent me a link that described the meaning of encountering a skunk, and how it serves as purpose to relay a message to us. The skunk was our spirit guide so that we can become more confident to meet life's challenges. Such incidences like these, I like to see it as a way the universe is talking to us, which is a beautiful experience. 

What camera do you use?

For all my analog photography, I switch between the Polaroid 600 and Polaroid Spectra. I'd like to start expanding into other traditional analog cameras besides instant film some day. But I love the nostalgia of it since it brings me back to my childhood. It is also fun to play with the Polaroid filters and experiment with exposures and getting the "instant" gratification of a developed photo. As for my digital camera, I use an old Canon Rebel XSi DSLR with various lenses that I accumulated over time.

Using an analogy, how would you describe your creative process? My creative process is like a dandelion puff that's been randomly seeded to bloom into a flower. The seed of the dandelion would be the idea/visual image I would receive from being inspired by an artform (music/drawing/film etc.). It can happen any time, any where and I try to memorialize this idea and keep it in my mind. And when the seed gets water and sunlight (fine tuning the details of the concept of the photo in my mind), it eventually blooms into a flower (the overall vision). And this is the moment when I decide to take the photograph with everything in its right place.

What's the strangest dream you've ever had?

The strangest dream I've ever had would be being chased by trolls at my cousin's childhood home. I wanted to go back into that dream because it was actually quite fun, visually. It had a very "where the wild things are" dreamy atmosphere.

Why do you take photos? Why do you share them?

I've been traveling more often recently, so taking photos for memories is certainly a major factor. But most importantly, it is a form of escapism for me. I want to feel as if I've been to another world and I want the audience to feel the same way. A beautiful dream world, that I wish to make a reality.

Why do you like photography?

I like photography because it allows me to express myself through visuals. My mind tends to think in images and not so much in words. It is also the complete opposite of my day job as a (field) scientist dealing with data. So conveying my thoughts through imagery is therapeutic in a sense.

Images used in collage via @lilyoftheskies


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