Back Issue__ Oh Mandy-Lyn
Mandy-lyn, self portraitBy: Gillian Damborg
When talking to photographer Mandy-Lyn Antoniou, she is usually either picking up or dropping off film. She is always shooting and for good reasons. The world of images is moving fast - it’s a tumbling, blink of an eye pace where people are hungry for more and constantly moving on to the next thing. By the time you hit refresh, there are hundreds of thousands of new images on the web--it’s an all you can eat buffet and Mandy-Lyn is here to feed you.
Mandy-lyn has a keen ability for catching the authentic "in between" moments--B-roll in a good way--and her work centers around women. She showcases female sexual power and though there is a lot of nudity, it’s not cheap. Wherever that inner attraction is, Mandy-Lyn brings it out.
Your last name (Antoniou) is neat, does it mean anything?
It's Cypriot. An old Greek lady once told me it means 'priceless.'
What was your first camera?
I started taking photos with disposable cameras, but my first 'real' camera was a hand-me-down from one of my Dad's girlfriends--a late 90's Nikon SLR.
Women are almost always your subjects, why?
Women were designed by the artist, men by the engineer. Both are beautiful, no doubt, but there's some kind of special poetry about a beautiful woman.
Above pantie pics are selects from Hubba Hubba Magazine Issue 2
Do people think you sleep with all the people you shoot? Terry Richardson style?
This made me laugh out loud. I don't know what people think. What do you think?
I think because you make women feel attractive, or maybe your approach is a bit flirty, I just felt like maybe it would get sexy or something. I remember asking you if you did and you talked about how you respect the women you are shooting and that its a totally different thing. But whatever it is, you feel a connection between the people being shot and you. There is something special there. That being said, I’ve been shot by you, so I feel I understand a little about how you work, but what is it about you that makes us girls want to take our clothes off?
This made me laugh too. I wish there was some reliable combination of words that does it, that I could put it in a book and give it to everyone I know. Women are very complex...but it certainly begins with reverence and respect. When I take a photo of a girl, I get to get lost in her beauty. I want to take her out of her world and put her on a pedestal, into a fantasy, I want to immortalize her magic. I guess that women can feel it, when I do that.
How does being a DJ play into being a photographer? Does it at all?
It doesn't, really. Good music is just a cherry on the sundae, or the caramel sauce.
What has been one of the best photoshoot experiences so far?
When I shot Kristy J. with that flag around her, that was the first time I had seen something that came to life in my mind come to life before my eyes. It was a special moment, but I think you can see that in the photos.
Would you rather shoot portraits in a more set up style, or off-the-cuff in the moment styles? (Yes we’re playing Would You Rather now).
I think it's usually a mix of both. Whatever needs to happen.
When you were 16, what did you think you would be doing now?
I'm sure that every fiber of me hoped for something great.
How did you get the idea for your short video "La Diabla"?
I was sitting on a bus and that song, "Baby Please Don't Leave Me" by Buddy Guy came on my headphones. My mind took that music and went to a natural place, I guess. I saw a girl in a short dress with long hair swaying in the light, and it wouldn't leave me alone. I had to make it just so I could get all the dancing babes out of my head. They were making me crazy.
How was filming different from photographing?
Some of the girls I featured in La Diabla had never been on camera before, had only danced in their underwear alone and in front of the mirror. When I had to work with them, give them direction, I wasn't able to focus on the photography as much. Editing was a big experience for me. That's natural, but the process of it gave me a clearer, louder voice as far as meeting my own aesthetic expectations. I began to see then, that my creative vision was concise - I'm not sure if that made me more or less of a handful to work with.
When is a girl too young to be photographed provocatively?
My opinion is a little too controversial to print, and too long winded to get into. But in short, I think that as long as the subject is being photographed respectfully and responsibly, it's good, and we need it. Sexual arousal is a feeling that we've been taught to associate with guilt and fear. That's fucked up. To my mind, if you look at a beautiful 16-year-old girl and you experience excitement, that's normal. You didn't ask for it, it's human nature. The line is not in the feeling, it is in the doing.
Do you have a personal manifesto or mantra of sorts?
Anais Nin said "Life expands in accordance to ones courage," I remind myself of that often. But there is a great interview with Ira Glass--it's long, but he talks about how all of us who do creative work do it because we have good taste and when we start making work, as artists, well, it's got potential but it's just not that good and our good taste is the reason that we're disappointed. He reminds you that every intelligent, interesting creative goes through this. The most important thing you can do is work, work, work. Hard work, fighting for your good taste and that it closes the gap and you soon see yourself becoming as good as your ambitions. He's right. Don't give up and fight like a mother fucker and you're actually going to be great. I wish I had heard that quote when I was 16, so I like to share it with others when I can.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope alive, happy, making changes, doing great things.
What's your favorite thing about being a woman?
As I said, we're art. I wish all of us [women] could see that.