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Chris Bernabeo Debuts His Second Issue of LYLAS

When Chris Bernabeo first started organizing the photos that would eventually become the inaugural issue of LYLAS, love (in its many iterations) wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of his mind—or so he thought. Thematically, it came together quite naturally—revealing itself throughout the course of his shooting. Now, with the second issue of LYLAS released today, Bernabeo obviously knew that love would continue to be woven throughout. But, he says, this didn’t change his creative approach. In fact, much the opposite: “It made me want to shoot as much as I possibly could…what happens is that they end up coming together in a way fluidly by themselves and it helps because you’re not restricted.” And, of course, he’s still learning things about love that continue to surprise him in new ways.

For the second issue of LYLAS, we sat down with Bernabeo to hear more about his creative process, the moments in life that he feels compelled to capture, and the importance of creating tangible work in the digital age. Read the full interview below and grab your copy of LYLAS here.

This is the second issue of LYLAS—tell me a little about the first one.

The first issue I released last winter and featured work shot over the summer of 2017. It sought to represent love beyond that capital “R,” romantic kind, but the blurry and profound relationships that evade a neat label, like “friend” or even “sister.” Just as chosen family disrupts how we think about our kin, love is just as malleable. I was shooting all my personal work on film, which gets expensive, and I started to get frustrated that the images were only living on Instagram & my website, so I really wanted to create this tangible thing that you could hold in your hand and look at the work that way. They also serve as a timestamp for that given period of my life.

Has working on the zine made you consider love in a different way or develop an alternate perception?

A lot of the people I photographed in this second issue are couples that I am super close with and constantly third-wheeling with. Through that closeness I get to see these different versions of love and how people relate to one another. When you have these references and these real people who you listen to it kind of creates this idea for yourself what you may want in a romantic relationship. I’ve learned so much from all of them on how to love and communicate and how important that is. It’s these relationships that I base my romantic ideals on and not so much a Hollywood-fictional stereotype.

What’s your most stand-out memory or favorite photograph from the project?

The closing image of the issue is of my friend Patch, he’s water-falling a glass of wine on a raining summer evening. He was in a backyard cooking a bunch us lamb legs out in the woods over the fire in the rain. The fire and rain combination was creating a less than desirable cooking conditions. We took a moment to have him step away from the smokey fire and give him some wine. He leaned his head back and our friend Alexandra poured some in to his mouth from above. It’s just this really joyous moment that I remember knowing when shooting it that it would be something really special for this second issue.

For this second issue, your theme was set prior rather than being random—did that affect the way you were photographing?

Going in to this second issue I knew I just wanted to shoot as much personal work as I could and then once the summer was over would take a look and see where the issue lived. I didn’t want to restrict the images in any way. What I really had found was that if I am documenting and pulling out my camera when times feel important, images come together in a way fluidly by themselves. I personally don’t like limiting personal work to one sort of theme.

I brought in my friend Samantha Adler to edit the images. I had just hoarded hundreds of rolls of film and then wanted to go through and make my initial favorites and have her narrow those down with a more natural eye. It was so amazing to collaborate with her because she has such a great eye and edited an issue that I am so proud of and represents where I wanted it to grow. When we were rifling through print outs I would ask her “what about this one?” and her response sometimes would be “that’s Lylas Issue One…we’re editing Lylas Issue Two” and it just helped me see a growth in the work and that this issue was photographed in such a different mindset. It’s really about this moment in your life when people closest to you are starting to be on different timelines in their lives and you have this questioning inside if you’re supposed to be at a certain point as well. A conflicting desire emerges, to both embrace and put off change, even as it’s happening all around, and inevitably in myself. I hope this issue reveals a more thoughtful turn, of what it means to grow alongside the people that make you feel the most present, even as time pushes and pulls.

With the release party and people viewing your personal work, what do you want to evoke in people? How do you want to engage with people who don’t have the full context?

I think a lot of what I try to do with my work whether it’s personal or fashion/editorial is find a sense of intimacy. Looking at the photographs, I want someone to see themselves in them, a reminder of maybe a similar experience, a similar love, a similar friendship. Although you may not know the subjects in my images you may see someone else in them. Celebrating the one’s in your life that make you continue to love in so many different ways.

Images courtesy of Chris Bernabeo

Stay tuned to Milk for more zines we love.

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