Could you introduce yourself? I am Lena Nian, creative artist and photographer. I am also the co-founder and co-producer of Fashion Weekend Gambia, which is the biggest annual fashion event in the country. I live and work in The Gambia. I am of Gambian heritage but I grew up in Sweden, where I studied fine arts and photography before moving to London where I did my Bacchelor of Arts in Design for advertising and where I also refined my photographic skills.
What triggered the desire to do this job? Since I was a child I have been in love with photography. I love the idea of being able to capture a moment in time and create an image that can tell so many different stories.
As an artist, how would you define yourself? Bold, ground breaking and unapologetic. Being a creative is difficult anywhere. But being a creative in The Gambia is even harder. Especially being a woman creative.
I don’t compromise when it comes to my art and I hope that just being who I am and doing what I do inspires other to believe in themselves.
Which artists do you admire? Who inspired you? Seydou Keita, Trevor Sturman, Alun Be, Peter Lindberg, Wangechi Mutu, Anton Corbijn and so many more.
What do your works reflect? My focus is portraits, be it through fashion photography, shoots for artists, different projects. I always strive to capture the essence of the person that I shoot. I want you to feel something when you look at image, to get a flavour of who that person is. Something must capture you and once you are captured the story unfolds.
At the end of the day story telling is the essence of photography and can be used to highlight issues within society be it social structures, patriarchal systems, day to day struggles.
As with any artist I feel that you have a responsibility not only to carry forth memories but to play your part in voicing untold stories.
What motivates your creation? Everyday people and their stories. I do commissioned work. And a lot of the time I have my personal projects that I work on on the side.
What is your particularity? Contrasts and use of one light source.
What are your current projects? I have a few projects that I work on simultaneously. One of them is called Breaking Barriers. Its questioning gender roles mostly within the work place.