Would you mind introducing yourself? Hi! My name is Lilena Marinou and I’m a director, cinematographer and analog photographer based in New York City, by way of Athens, Greece. My love for cinema & photography stems from a deep appreciation of character-driven narratives that examine the dynamics of families, lovers, friends and societal classes. Although I go back and forth between planned and spontaneous art, portraiture and landscape photography - what lives in all my work is my fascination with people, even if a physical subject is not present.
Lilena’s Instagram - @lilena_marinou
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? It’s hard to tell if there was an unequivocal photographic epiphany! Like most photographers, I believe the passion for my craft started early on. Perhaps there was a moment in time when my enthusiasm for people-watching crossed paths with photography, and I realized that, by combining the two, I could create something meaningful.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? Ha, this one is a little easier! A couple of years ago, I was rummaging through some shelves in my parents’ home looking for a DVD, and I bumped into two boxes filled to the brim with photos of my childhood and my parents’ younger years. Having not seen any of these photos before, I felt a rush of joy, amusement, and nostalgia while witnessing the passage of time through hundreds of lustrous pieces of paper. Apart from some questionable sartorial and coiffure choices (may the early 00’s fashion never make a comeback), I found that there was something truly special in chronicling our growth.
Who/What inspires your photography? My family is probably my greatest inspiration. They are just such marvellous people, with their beautiful strengths and flaws and quirks. Truthfully, we were never the kind to preach the motto “family first”, we just sort of naturally stuck to each other during ups and downs with utmost love. Of course, there were times when the cohesive glue ran a little dry, but I believe that some battles you need to face on your own.
What kind of camera do you use? Speaking of inspiration, it was my father who, on my freshman year of college, gave me a 35mm Japanese Nikkormat FT2 (affectionately known as “The Poor Man’s Nikon F). He had purchased it second-hand through a friend during his first year of college sometime in the 70’s.
What's your editing process like? As minimal as possible. I use Lightroom, and if necessary, Photoshop, focusing mostly on contrast, curves, luminance and some colour correction. Unless I have a specific project in mind, I try to keep my photos engaging through naturalism.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? I cannot stress this enough - don’t be afraid to ask for things. So many of my projects have happened by simply summoning the courage to express what you want. The more we become accustomed to this attitude, the more freely our mind will run, allowing for creativity to become the driving force of every idea.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? My absolute favourite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson. I also adore the work of Vivian Maier, Sally Mann, Martin Parr, Josef Koudelka, Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, as well as Robert Mapplethorpe. On Instagram, Osamu Yokonami (@osamuyokonami), Nguan (@_nguan_), Celeste Ortiz (@celesteoch), Carlota Guerrero (@carlota_guerrero), Helena Cooper (@helenapcooper), and finally Martin Blanco (@martin.a.blanco) for some of the best double exposure work I’ve seen.
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? Probably either Morocco, Ethiopia, or Japan. I would happily fly tomorrow to any of these places if I could - I can’t pick a favourite! Although I have to stay, I truly struck gold with growing up in Greece–it is absolute magic.
Which time of year is your favourite for taking photographs? Spring! I love the intimacy people feel when they sense that joyous relief of the warm sun finally reappearing after winter.
The coolest place you've ever been? A double-entrance cave on the west coast of Zakynthos, Greece. You can snorkel from either entrance and witness the incredible moment when light rays which enter from the other end of the cave begin to illuminate it underwater, revealing fish, starfish and colourful sponges.
Do you have any upcoming photography trips/sessions that you would like to share? I recently partnered up with Lomography for an exciting project that will be released soon! In June, I will be in Patmos Island, Greece and intend on photographing the religious aspects which Patmos is famous for; monasteries, convents, monks and the Cave of the Apocalypse where the Book of Revelation is said to have been written. I am not religious but the history and landscape of Patmos is absolutely fascinating to me.
Anything extra you would like to share? I cannot stress how appreciative I am for anyone who took the time to read this, I hope my work pays its dues and touches you in a meaningful way. Keep making things & always be empathetic - never passive or purposefully ignorant. Read poetry! (I personally love Frank O’Hara, William Carlos Williams, Jorge Luis Borges, Billy Collins and Kiki Dimoula) Watch movies! (Jim Jarmusch, Asghar Farhadi, Yorgos Lanthimos, Wes Anderson, Agnes Varda, Chantal Akerman and Alfonso Cuaron are some of my many cinema heroes).
Lilena’s Instagram - @lilena_marinou
Lilena’s Website - www.lilenamarinou.com