Lara Zankoul, the economist with the bewitching secret

If you're a Beiruti, then there's a good chance you've already heard of 23-year-old conceptual photographer Lara Zankoul. If you haven't, then continue reading - you're in for a treat. 

Lara Zankoul has a Masters in Economics behind her. It if weren't for the About page on her website, I would have concluded she worked with music albums and book covers, or camped on an alternate planet no one's heard of before - where the laws of physics aren't at play. She explains that "the practice of fine arts photography primarily appeared as a need to escape the monotonous life of the cubicle as [she] started [her] full-time job." 

Zankoul's images are so surreal one would wonder how the shoot was executed to start with. With patience, she takes "the right moment" to a whole new level. 

I had to play Agnes Obel's Falling, Catching as soon as I started looking at her photographs. Really, you don't need any supplementary aids to complete the experience, but I always find it quite nice to ambush two senses simultaneously.  

Bananapook: I bet there’s a lot of frustration with the setup of your photos. Do you find yourself going crazy in a shoot?
Lara Zankoul: My photos consist of the creation of imaginary scenes which I capture with my camera. The frustration is caused by the fact that each photo depends on many variables: the weather (for outdoor photos), the light, the availability of the model and the props. It is not always easy to get all of the desired factors at one single time. But when the scene is working, the photoshoot goes very smoothly and is very fun. I love being out there with my models doing weird things. 

B: Is there any shoot you’ve been envisioning but couldn’t bring into fruition?  
LZ: Many actually. Most of the concepts I come up with are quite far from reality, so it’s not always easy to implement them. I always try to find ways to turn my ideas into pixels. Right now I have two ideas in mind that I’m not sure I can achieve. It is an ongoing challenge but I love it! It keeps my brain cells at work. 

B: Economics and photography. I’m sure you get a lot of puzzled looks from your CV! In a way, each can be an escape from the other. What do you think?
LZ: I couldn’t have said it better. Each is an escape from the other. I don’t see myself eliminating any of them at this point. They create a sort of equilibrium in my life: economics feed my left brain, while artistic photography feeds the right one.

B: Favorite lens?
LZ: The amazing 50mm1.4.

B: Any music inspirations? I wouldn’t be surprised if your photographs were literal translations of some songs.
LZ: Surprisingly not so much. I love music but don’t feel very inspired from it. I am more inspired by human feelings and psychic. I am also inspired by Disney movies. I grew up watching them and still do sometimes.

B: Are you content that you self-taught yourself photography rather than having majored in it?
LZ: I am happy with the way it all went. Photography grew from a hobby to a passion and semi-profession. I wouldn’t like to have it any other way. I learned it naturally and spontaneously. If was imposed as a major and vocation, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it that much.


What music did you play as you viewed her photographs? Maybe you found that the photographs were best viewed in silence. 

Personally, my favorite aspect of the images are the color filters. She has a knack for using the most suitable one in each image. 

Nevertheless, at such a young age - Zankoul is already a stellar icon in the Lebanese conceptual photography scene. One can only wonder what she'll come up with by the time she's setting up her comprehensive exhibition. 

To see more of Lara Zankoul's photographs, you can visit her website or you can "Like" her Facebook Page.

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Note: All images on Bananapook are copyrighted material and all rights are reserved to the respective artists.


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