Laetitia Mangala Instant's Poetic and Powerful Exploration of Femininity With the Lomo' Instant Wide NSFW

1

Nestled between trees and rivers in the South of France, Laetitia Mangala Instant is a 28-year-old French photographer with an affinity for instant shots. Traveling to India, she became passionate about the country and its culture, and when she isn't shooting or creating, she teaches Yoga and studies Ayurveda. After a few tumultuous years as a young woman, Laetitia found refuge in her arts and because of the first lockdown in France, started sharing some of the snaps she created. Beyond some snaps and self-portraits, Laetitia's work is an ode to femininity and owning the inner most self she has cultivated. With the Lomo' Instant Wide, she aims to give back women the ability to control how they display and view themselves, tired of the way mainstream media exploit women's bodies.

©Laetitia Mangala Instant

Can you tell us about your artistic background? Did you ever study photography?

Since I was a little girl I liked to draw, to dance and to write. I like to talk but when it comes to expressing my deepest thoughts I have some difficulties. That’s why art is a good alternative for me to express my deepest self. Taking pictures is a way to materialize thoughts and emotions that I need to let out to avoid them to haunt me: like the feeling of injustice, humiliation, fears, and suffering. I’ve never studied photography, actually, I don’t know anything about it: how to deal with the lights... It's a complete mystery for me. I do it by instinct.

Thanks to these hobbies I feel free and complete. Originally, I was on my way to becoming a dancer, but as a teenager-young woman (from 16 to 24) I found refuge to alcohol a lot, so I quit the dance program to drink, party, and play tambourine in an indie-rock band. With the band, I went on tour and could express myself a lot on stage.
During the first lockdown in France, because of Covid-19, I decided to share the pictures I take. I used to be very shy, I wouldn't show my pictures and write, but it's not the case anymore. It is a way for me to talk about women's rights. Photography lets me lobby for women's rights, including the right to own our bodies.

©Laetitia Mangala Instant

In such a digital age, why do you still shoot instant film?

I like the fact that you can make all pictures precious. Digitally, you can shoot as many pictures as you want, you can try a lot, you can delete... With films it's different, I find it more poetic. Every picture has a real history. And it is a really magic moment when the picture comes out and you have to wait to see the result.

How did you get into Instant Film?

I was on tour with my rock band GANG OF PEAFOWL and I used to write all our experiences down in a notebook. I thought it could be pretty cool to have some pictures in there as memories, so I chose the instant film option to decorate my notebooks. And two years ago, I decided to use my camera for something else. I wanted to do some artistic pictures where I could create bodies with strange and different shapes. It was very instinctive.

©Laetitia Mangala Instant

What do you like to shoot most?

My favorites are human bodies, body shapes, emotions, lines of the body, especially women's, to give their body the place they deserve. And nature. Women in nature is what I like to shoot the most, as well as shooting with flash and filters.

What do you like about the Lomo’ instant wide?

What I love above all about the Lomo' Instant Wide is its ludicrous appearance. You don’t need to know much about photography to have fun and have good results. It's very cool and comforting. It also has a lot of accessories for you to develop your creativity: the splitzer, filters, lens, bulb mode...and the remote control is very practical to gain self-confidence! I would never have been confident enough to ask for models to pose for me if I couldn’t try it on myself in the first place.

©Laetitia Mangala Instant

How do you come up with compositions? Is it a process, or do you just do it as you feel on the spot?

It is a strange process. I mostly take pictures during my menstruation. Like a therapeutical thing for my femininity. Often, I have a lot of ideas a few days before my menstruation that I write down in a notebook (places where to shoot, compositions, a combination of shapes…) and when my menstruation comes I shoot. If I’m lucky I have a model that answers on my Instagram account, otherwise I shoot myself. But during a shooting, I also have many new ideas. It is not rare, that I do something else than what I had planned. I listen to my instinct and imagination. I already tried to shoot outside of my periods and the result is not the same. I have less inspiration, I think too much and
waste a lot of films. That’s why I prefer to do shooting during my period. When I have a model I let them free to do as they want: they can be naked or not, we can just do
a portrait or not. They have also to decide.

There definitely is a common theme of the body and exploration of the female form. Why is that?

I definitely like to create new shapes with double, triple exposure. Taking naked pictures were very natural for me. I felt the need to make peace with the woman inside me, and with my femininity. I also need to claim women's rights and to claim that our bodies are more than sexual objects. I would like to photography men, but nobody, besides my fiancée accepts! First, I didn’t realize the purpose of my pictures. But now, I know it’s a feminist message. I can’t stand the fact that a woman needs to hide because of men’s point of view. Why should a woman hide a breast and not a man? Instagram alI want to show what is invisible to the eyes. To me, the body is the material shield of our most profound inside self, and I feel this inside self most when I get my periods. By those photos of bodily exploration, I want to show the invisible for the eye and I like that anyone can interpret the picture based on their own imagination.

©Laetitia Mangala Instant

How do you create those rich and dynamic double exposures? Do you use a splitzer, the multiple exposure mode…?

Of course, the splitzer and double exposure mode are my best friends for my results. I use the filters when I use the flash: for the first exposure, I would use the yellow flash for example, and for the second one I would use the purple one. The multiple exposure option lets me go up to 4 exposures at once! What I particularly like about the splitzer is turning the camera upside down for a cool effect! I love being surprised by the result of the picture. When I start a shoot, the first 3 pictures are most of the time failed, for me to get used, to understand the light, and it's starting the 10th picture that things start to get interesting. Might as well tell you how much film I waste!

Your models seem to be very comfortable with you. How do you work with them to make them at ease in front of your lens?

I tell my models that we can do whatever THEY want. There is no obligation to be naked for example. But most of them want to take the challenge. The fact that I am a
woman seems to help I think. My relationship with nudity is really cool. I have no problem with naked bodies and I was never ashamed to be naked myself. So when I have a naked or clothed woman in front of my lens I look at them the same way. There is no difference for me. Because it is not the nudity that I am picturing but what is INSIDE. In the beginning, they are a bit shy, but after 5 pictures they often say "I’ve forgotten I’m naked, that is really cool". I’m so grateful when they say  "Oh I’m beautiful naked ". I’m so happy to know that the shooting can give them self confidence.

©Laetitia Mangala Instant

From the pictures you sent us, do you have a favorite one? Can you tell us the story behind it ?

My favorite picture is an autoportrait. The one where I appear holding a light with the violet filter. I put the splitzer diagonally and forgot to click on the double
exposure mode. So, a part of the picture is dark because of the splitzer. I had something else in mind but the mistake made the result even better! It happens a lot to me when I’m doing autoportrait. I have difficulties focusing because it’s not easy to be a model and photograph at the same time, so I may forget to change the filter or to put the splitzer on the other side. And then the magic occurs: with mistakes, poetic results appear!

Any last word of advice or anything you want to share with the fellow Lomo community?

I would say "create with instinct without thinking."


To check out more of Laetitia's work, head over to her Instagram.

written by tamarasaade on 2021-01-20

More Interesting Articles