Go Inside 'Pain', The First-Ever Photo Book From Ilona Slama
Today, LA-based photographer Ilona Slama is releasing her first photo book, titled Pain. Hailing from France, and having lived in Geneva, Hong Kong, New York and now Los Angeles, Slama’s work is inspired by her love of the world. The photos featured in Pain, which is a compilation of editorials, personal projects, and tour photos, have all been taken in the last two years since Slama graduated high school. You may recognize artists like Justin Gossman, Gabbriette, Girlyboi, The Toy Guys, and Twin Temple amongst the dark imagery and musical instruments in her work. Slama often collaborates with friends, stating, “All my friends are artists, so there’s a lot more freedom to experiment and it’s comfortable. We’ll hang out and try different things.”
Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Slama, photos from Pain, and exclusive images from her most recent shoot with Dutch Faro and Cameron Rose. Wanna get your hands on a hard copy? Cop the book here.
Tell us about Pain.
Pain is about creating to let go of emotional and physical torment and falling in love with the world around me as I photograph it.
How did you curate this book?
The book is a compilation of editorials, personal work, tour photos.. that I took in the past two years since I’ve graduated high school. The cover is the first photo I’ve ever taken.
Tell us about some of the people included in this project.
Laura Duncan, my stylist and one of my best friends, she has styled about half of the editorials in my book.
You seem to often collaborate with friends and loved ones – how do your creative energies feed off of each other?
I love shooting my friends because the photos mean a lot more to me that way. I think my friends are the most beautiful human beings ever, and it makes more sense to me than to pick a random face from an agency board. All my friends are artists, so there’s a lot more freedom to experiment and it’s comfortable. We’ll hang out and try different things.
How has your background influenced the work you create?
I’ve lived pretty much all over the world from Paris to Lyon, Geneva, Hong Kong, New York and now Los Angeles. These experiences have made me grow obsessed with different architectural styles, and I’m in love with Los Angeles! I am currently working on a series focusing on the city.
Your work is very influenced by religious symbolism, good/evil, dark/light – how do these concepts play a role in your life as well as your work?
My life has always felt like a rollercoaster. The feeling reflects in my work. I have really crazy dreams and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea then try to recreate it. It’s all in my subconscious, sometimes I don’t even know what any of it means myself.
What advice do you have for up and coming photographers?
Success is so subjective, everyone is a photographer these days! What I think is most important is to really be in love with what you do, and believe in yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. Also, be a creep, and always stare a lot at everything everywhere! Haha
What’s your favorite piece of photo equipment?
What aspect of photography do you find most difficult?
Last year I did an editorial for a Los Angeles based magazine. After I sent the magazine my photos, they told me that they were too “dark” and couldn’t be used. This provoked an internal conflict. I felt that I had to choose between photographing what I want to photograph and photographing more commercial work that I knew I would attract a larger audience. I don’t care anymore and just shoot what I feel like.
What artists do you look to for inspiration?
I am most inspired by music. I’m in love with Nick Cave. I don’t lean towards looking at photography for inspiration. However, Hedi Slimane’s photos are what inspired me to start working on my own. I love how he merges two worlds together: fashion and music.
Images courtesy of Ilona Slama
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