THE CREATORS 01: EVA LEBER
Eva Leber is a young up-and-coming photographer and magazine editor from Slovenia who shot the COOL KIDS editorial, featured in NEW EDGE 09. Currently studying graphic design, Eva’s an ambitious young creator passionate about streetwear culture and fashion, working on the second issue of her independent magazine Odnas.
We talked to Eva about photography, her magazine, her ambitions and her passion and what it takes to make a magazine all by yourself as your final high school project.
Introduce yourself to our readers in a few words.
I’m a nearly-20-year-old who goes to college, lives in a dorm, eats out on student coupons, always pumps gas for 10€ and loves dogs and magazines.
When did you first start taking photos and where did your interest in photography stem from?
It started in my second year of high school. I was following the platform Highsnobiety religiously then as well as their ‘snobshots’ photos that they were reposting from different photographers. So, one day I just said to myself that I wanted to try that out and who would’ve thought, two months later they reposted one of my photos and later three more. Back then I thought that I’d reached the stars but either way it was great first support that encouraged me to keep going.
What is it about photography that you love the most?
I love the whole thing! From observing people, taking photos, the editing process and later posting the finished product. The thing I probably love the most is photography direction – deciding where I’m going to take someone’s shot, what is the story behind it, finding the inspiration and sometimes, my amateur side peeking through when I don’t plan the photoshoot down to the very last detail and everything happens on the spot. I love the rawness of spontaneity; it makes things unique.
What camera do you use? Do you take digital or analog photos – which ones do you prefer?
I’m still using the same camera I’d started on in my second year of high school. It’s a Canon 80D and it has yet to let me down. I also take analog photos but not professionally. I do it for fun and I’m loyal to my Yaschica Zoomate 120 and Pentax ESPIO 120Mi. I also have one old polaroid camera and a VHS camera I’d gotten from my uncle. I’m still waiting for my grandfather’s permission to use his 8mm film camera! I prefer digital photography to analog because I’m better at it, but I do have much greater respect to analog photography than digital.
How would you describe your photography style? Is there a specific genre of photography that you’re focused on and if yes, which one and why?
My current photography style is hard to define because I’m trying out different things. But I can still say that I’m a street fashion photographer. I’ve always been interested in fashion photography, ever since my high school obsession with Elle magazine. I later started following platforms such as Highsnobiety, Complex and Hypebeast which brought me closer to streetwear culture. This year I was really inspired by Berlin. I know all young artists emphasise how great Berlin is – but the thing is, it is that great. I enjoyed every second of it because I was surrounded with the things that I’d only dreamed of before. Fun fact: I visited the 032c magazine’s concept store three times in one day – only because I could!
Throughout high school, I experimented with different genres of photography and I still prefer fashion and portrait photography. I think I love fashion photography so much because I love fashion. It’s a creative area that I’d love to work in later in life.
Are there any creatives that you’d love to work with?
My list of people who I want to work with changes monthly, it keeps getting longer. I am currently working and collaborating with some people that I’d wanted to work with for a long time but the project’s a secret for now!
Who or what inspires you and where do you draw your inspiration for projects from?
I’m mostly inspired by the musicians I’m listening to or their specific songs. I used to make photo series based on albums that I was listening to and the titles of the photos were lyrics from the songs. Right now, these artists are Frank Ocean, Kanye West and Kid Cudi. As far as the technical side of photography and the aesthetics go, I’m inspired by different photographers such as Gunner Stahl, Petra Collins, Vitali Gelwich, Hannah Sider, Chi Modu and others. I base my colour stories on nature and I also prefer taking photos in nature rather than in studios or indoors, so I’m not a big fan of Winter because it’s dark and the weather’s bad – but it does give me a lot of time to delve into other ideas I have.
In your opinion: what makes a good photographer? And what makes a good photo?
I think I’m the wrong person to ask since I don’t have any academic background in photography. Although, I was going through my old photos the other day and I realized they’re some of my best ones. That was back when I didn’t know anything about camera settings and did everything based on feeling.
What makes a good photographer is either a good academic background in photography or just experiences – I don’t think there’s a rule for it. If you want to be a photographer you must have it in you, you’ve got to see things differently than others. I know for myself that I’m bad at art, journalism and landscape photography because I don’t have feeling for it (and I’m hard on myself, but I’m not a perfectionist). As a photographer, you’ve got to experiment a lot if you want to be good. You’ve got to find a genre that you’ll focus on so you can be great at it and that consequently makes you good at what you do.
Sometimes I’m scrolling through Instagram and I see a million photos that all look the same. I just skip them, completely subconsciously. And then one photo pops up and I spend some time looking at it because it stands out. It’s nothing new; I think we can all agree that a photo’s good when it attracts attention, makes you think or simply stop and observe. I do however think that more and more people are taking on photography for the wrong reasons – because it’s cool and because anyone can buy a camera, take photos and make them look good. But not everyone can put their heart and soul into it and that’s the fine line between a good photographer and the rest of them.
You’re also the founder and editor-in-chief of Odnas magazine. How and why did you start it? In a few words, what is Odnas?
Odnas is a magazine about streetwear culture and fashion in Slovenia, inspired by magazines such as Highsnobiety, i-D, DAZED, 032c and Hypebeast.
I was in my third year of High School for Design and Photography in Ljubljana and it was time to decide what our upcoming final projects would be. I already knew that I was going to make a magazine about streetwear culture but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be just an example of a magazine that I could present as a final project, or an actual magazine about Slovenia’s streetwear culture that I’d publish and people would read. I’m the type of person that wants to do everything by herself. I know I can do a lot of things by myself, even though this type of independence isn’t always appreciated here. With Odnas I wanted to prove that I’m capable of organizing, designing, photographing, interviewing, styling, promoting and publishing the entire magazine on my own. One of the reasons why I wanted to start a magazine like Odnas was because I wanted to present the streetwear culture of Slovenia, even if it’s small, to a wider audience. I figured we’re missing a magazine that would highlight how this culture weaves through our fashion, music, photography and art, even if it’s just one issue. I was also motivated by my magazine obsession, since I prefer to read articles from printed issues. I just think it gives them a timelessness that’s often lost in the overflow of information we get from the Internet.
I was quite reserved with the first issue. No one knew that I was making it except for those involved. At first, I thought I’d just make it for myself because I saw it as a huge reference for when I’ll want to work with other magazines. But after the release of the first issue and the immense support from my peers I realized it’s not just me who needed it, which has motivated me to keep working on it.
Were there any challenges you had to face when you started Odnas? What’s your proudest moment with the magazine?
Where to even begin! From coming up with the money to print it, the publishing process and all the formalities to the fact that I was slightly creatively limited because of school since I had to follow certain instructions concerning graphics and magazines themselves. That was probably my biggest problem because I wanted to make something that was a little different than the classic format, but graduating was one of my priorities. It was difficult to do interviews because I’d never done them before and sometimes didn’t know how to ask the right questions to get the answers I wanted, but in the end, they turned out great. The biggest challenge were my monthly breakdowns when I felt like it was all for nothing – shout out to my friends for all the support they’d given me!
It might be a bit egocentric but I’m proud of myself because I did it, I created something even though towards the end I was sure it wouldn’t happen. And I’m also proud of the fact that people welcomed the magazine so warmly and I’m proud of everyone who was involved in the process. Actually – I’m content and happy, I’m not sure I can call it pride yet. I’ll be proud when I’ll be able to make a living from the things that I love doing.
Aside from Odnas and photography is there anything else that you do?
Don’t even get me started haha! I dance and it means a lot to me, it’s been with me my whole life. I study graphic design, I dabble in filming videos and screen printing and making the Odnas clothing line. I also collect books about streetwear culture and fashion so if anyone wants to borrow any, hit me up! I could talk about all these things for hours, but maybe some other time.
The CREATORS is a series of interviews featuring creative individuals we’ve collaborated with on our published editorials. The series focuses on their background, philosophy, inspiration, work ethics and their other projects and shines a light on who they are as artists.