International student Iasmina ‘Jasmin’ Panduru spoke to us about her experiences on the MA Fashion Photography course, her interest in documenting subcultures, the messages behind her work and where she draws inspiration from.
Hi Jasmin! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been doing photography since about 2016 – learning to process and scan for myself. I was always passionate about shooting people that I felt were very unconventional, inspirational and cool at the same time. I wanted to explore their substance in a visual way. I was very excited to get accepted on the MA, and to start doing photography in London as well!
Do you feel that you've grown as a photographer through studying the course? What has been helpful for you?
It’s really helped me progress my analog photography skills. I became more confident, processing and printing in the darkroom. I also learned how to use the studio wisely because before this course I didn't really have many studio shoot opportunities. Working with other people, assisting or having others as assistants, seeing my classmates’ work. Having other people on the same MA level as me and learning from each other. Also learning how to put projects in order, how to articulate myself and to transfer into writing what I'm shooting.
The MA really helped me to develop myself as a person and as an artist because I was not just shooting randomly anymore – I was shooting for a purpose, for a cause.
That's brilliant! Continuing on from that, could you talk about your style as a photographer? What sort of themes are you aiming to explore within your work?
I now focus mainly on subcultures and minorities. I've tried to create projects that would spread awareness, for example, like United Colors of Benetton campaigns with shocking images that provoke the audience to be more aware of what's happening in the world.
I want to use fashion photography in a more wiser way than just letting people think that it's only about pretty people in pretty clothes. I want to go deeper than that and to use it as inspirational trendsetting.
The models I work with are really inspirational to me, and most of the time I let them do their own styling because I already trust in their skills to do that when I choose them.
What’s been one of your favourite projects so far?
My final MA project. The subject was very personal to me because it was about feminism and femininity. I explored what it really means to be a woman, and how others perceive women as being a woman. It was important for me to show that we are so different from each other because it was about diversity, but at the same time, we're kind of the same. I tried to show how we are so strong yet so vulnerable. I asked the models to “just be yourself in your room” and it was precious to see how they all took a different psychological path to show it.
I also had a project outside of uni on powerful female characters in movies, and I tried to replicate movie characters in my own way. But I was still focused around this idea of feminism. I guess it's like a struggle from within and I'm trying to say, women matter, we are equal to men or at least we should be because we are also human. And that's why I document minorities. I’ve always tried to approach subjects about sexism, homophobia and racism, and my projects are mainly about freedom of expression and being yourself as you want.
Who inspires your work?
It’s really important to me that my work transmits a particular feeling to the audience or to anyone who gets in contact with it. I love cinema, and I studied cinematography for my BA back home in Romania, so most of my inspiration is definitely from that. My favourite director ever is Gaspar Noé. I don’t think my work necessarily follows his style because I choose to create my own style, even though his work inspires me.
I feel like if we copy what we love, we'll end up hating it!
I also really love cinematographer Éric Rohmer and photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia. My MA final project style was inspired by Nan Goldin's work.
What are your plans now that you’ve finished the MA Fashion Photography course?
I'm travelling back to Romania to recharge my batteries. I want to actually start a little business. A lot of students and young people are really exploring photography – especially the analog world, which I think is amazing. It's something that we should really promote and encourage, so I decided to start doing a mini darkroom lab in my own garage back home.
I really want to teach others the knowledge that I have gained in this particular field.