Raised in South Wales and now based in Berlin, Katy Lane has carved a niche for herself as a photographer with an eye for drama in otherwise mundane situations. Her candid work documents the lives of her closest friends and family in a journal style of photography that is intimate and warm, inviting you to peek behind the curtain, uncovering sides you don’t often get to see. That Lane’s close friends and family are among the most intriguing, iconic musicians alive – Lane is married to Brian Jonestown Massacre leader Anton Newcombe – makes her series of portraits resonate with that bit more of a frisson.
The autobiographical work of Lane’s journals details her experiences collaborating with and living around the various members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the assorted musicians who gravitate to her husband’s studio in Berlin: among them the Canadian musician Rishi Dhir, of the band Elephant Stone, and Italian singer, actor and director Asia Argento. Vocalist and frequent collaborator with Newcombe, Tess Parks, has become a close friend of Lane’s as a result, leading to a remarkably personal and moving set of images that have found their way into Lane’s burgeoning portfolio.
With her new book of Polaroids, Someplace Else Unknown, set for release in the new year, Lane will be exhibiting a collection of her pictures for the first time in the UK at Bold Street Coffee during December. We caught up with her in advance to try and uncover some of the insight that goes into her art.
Why do you use film?
To put it simply, I just prefer it! I started off using an Olympus film point-and-shoot when I was about 14, before switching to digital when I was a little older. I then used both when I was in art school, figuring out how to use a Canon AE-1 and develop my own photos in the darkroom. I did use my digital Canon on the first BJM tour I went on, but I soon realised my film photos far surpassed anything I’d shot with my digital. It’s made me a better photographer in my opinion – you learn to make every frame count.
What made you decide to use photography as a way of documenting your experiences?
I always wanted to pursue a career in art of some kind, before really getting interested in photography as a young teenager, and coercing my friends into being my subjects for various projects. Then I left art school, fell in love with a musician and went straight into touring and travelling, so I continued to photograph my life and the lives of everyone around me. I’m surrounded by creativity in my day to day life, so I feel it’s important to freeze these moments in time. It has always seemed natural to me, in the same way as keeping a journal.
How does your approach change between working on specific projects and photographing for pleasure?
I would say my approach doesn’t change at all. I don’t like to stage photos, and want them to be as natural as possible, even when the subject knows I’m taking pictures of them, I just adapt to my surroundings.
Do you feel it’s better to have a close relationship with the person you are photographing?
I would say yes because the person feels comfortable with you, and will let their guard down, which is especially important for me because I love candid shots. For instance, my friend Tess is one of my favourite people to take pictures of, and because we know each other so well, we work great together. Again, I take so many photos of my husband because I get to see a side of him everyone else doesn’t get to see. Mostly everything I’ve done up until this point has been documentary, but I am pushing myself to do more with people I don’t know. I don’t want to get too comfortable myself, and it’s so important to have new experiences with new people.
Photography allows you to see the world through another’s eye. What do you want to show viewers about your world and how you experience it?
This is quite a tricky question for me to answer, because when I take photos I don’t specifically set out to show them to anyone in particular. I’m quite a private person so I’m constantly struggling with how much I let people into my world, so to speak – I share very little. I have just finished my first zine though, which, in a way, is like a holiday family album. It has definitely inspired me to make more, and I already have an idea of the next one mapped out.
Someplace Else Unknown opens at Bold Street Coffee on 1st December and runs until January. There will also be a launch party for the exhibition on the evening of 18th December, featuring DJ sets from Bido Lito! and Carl Combover.