Reading is one of the most wonderful simple pleasures in life; a means to escape into a world unlike our own, a chance to let our imaginations take hold, even if only for a little while.
Danish artist Anne Lysa, takes traditional stories a step further, bringing them to life by actualizing characters born only of imagination. For as long as she can remember, Lysa has been heavily influenced by fantasy and science fiction, with the inspiration for her series of elfin portraits based on the dreamy landscapes of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. This series of portraits, entitled Creatures of Gondolin, explore Tolkien’s hidden elf city of Gondolin and its inhabitants. Each portrait is carefully and meticulously styled to bring out a definitive quality of elfin magic in each of Lysa’s models.
A model herself, Lysa was introduced into the realm of photography where she became acquainted with many photographers, retouch-artists, stylists and makeup artists. Through these connections, Lysa was able to learn more about photography itself, and when she started to create her own images, Lysa already had a strong sense of how to organize a photo shoot, as well as had many contacts in the industry. However, a talented stylist herself, she designs and styles her own images, including the handmade crown in her featured snow queen image.
This autumn, Lysa will commence a new chapter of her life in Edinburgh, Scotland. For many, the grey skies and misty moors are not a dream destination. But for Lysa, the ancient castles, mystic mist, and the rolling moors are perfectly suited to her romantic, otherworldly style of photography. Lysa fell in love with Edinburg some years ago on a trekking excursion in the Scottish highlands with her mother, and now will be spending five months there to study and complete her master’s degree in psychology.
As she continues in her pursuit to understand the human condition on a deeper level, Lysa believes that the skills and understanding that she will gain during that time will only serve to enhance her work as a photographer. Presently, however, photography serves her as a light, enjoyable reprieve from the intense reading and studying involved in obtaining her degree.
As a student on a budget, Lysa creates with limited resources, though you wouldn’t think so from the quality of her images. She works out of a tiny apartment in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city. When models come to her photography studio, they often wait, bemused, while Lysa moves the furniture aside to make room for her backdrop and studio lights. Lysa’s motto is: always make the best out of the least. While she dreams of having a larger apartment where she can expand her photography studio, without having to move the furniture aside every time, her advice is to work with what you can afford.
“Believe in yourself and your abilities and learn to make the most out of the gear you can afford. Expensive photography equipment does not guarantee perfect results, it is how you light and compose an image that counts. In the end, the only aspect that really matters in the final result,” says Lysa.
An equally important aspect is choosing the right model. For Lysa, a certain gamine look is desirable, but also that the model is open to clear communication and cooperation. It is essential for Lysa to be able to transmit her desired results to her models in order to create her signature, fantasy style. However, Lysa reveals that a large part of the magical effect in her images comes from her work in post-production.
Lysa’s post-workflow involves first making minor adjustments in Lightroom, such as white balance, exposure, clarity, lens corrections and noise reduction. Next, she opens the image in Photoshop, where she treats the image with varying adjustments, most importantly, tonal adjustments on a micro and macro level. Lysa might also paint on eyelashes, extra hair, as well as lip and iris shine, and enhance details with high pass effects. When Lysa feels an image is complete, she might add different tones and colouring in adjustment layers or by coloring empty layers with different blending modes.
Having many colleagues in the photography industry has enabled her to have a community around her that can answer any questions she may have and enhance her skills. Lysa will often show a finished image to a photographer colleague and ask them what they think needs improving; what effects she could apply to an image the next time around.
At 27, Anne Lysa has made great headway in her photography career and proves that it is absolutely possible to make gorgeous images with limited resources. Her future dreams are to create her images more organically, by exploring and scouting the fairy-tale landscapes of Scotland, so that she can bring her models into a location long wrought with the history of faerie lore.
Tips from Lysa on how to utilize small studio spaces to your advantage:
● Minimize your possessions.
● Attach wheels to your furniture to make moving easier. (You can buy wheels at Ikea which are easy to screw onto furniture.)
● Use small book shelves to store you gear in boxes.
● Store bigger gear such as tripods, soft-boxes, and light-stands in boxes under your bed.
● Use a curtain rail for your paper back drops—she has two hanging above each other: one white and one grey.
Published in INSPADES Magazine, Issue Quattro, April 2017
Read INSPADES Magazine here: inspadesmag.com
You can see Lysa’s beautiful images on the following social media platforms, as well as her website:
● instagram @photobylysa