Cajsa Lilliehook covers the best in virtual world screenshot art and digital painting
Your eyes cannot drift past Imani Nayar’s photos while browsing Flickr. The stark black and white images with their spare simplicity draws your eye — a complete contrast to the multi-colored energy of most SL photos. Even her few color images are desaturated, reducing the distraction of color from her focus on their emotive quality. They are solitary photos that illustrate her reserve and independence that is evident after a minute checking out her profile where she sets her boundaries with firm politesse.
Imani does not say much about herself. She is from Germany and the picture above makes me think of Lotte Lenya, Marlene Dietrich, and today’s Ute Lemper, the great women of Berlin Cabaret whose greatest songs were a melancholy mix of seduction and cynicism, the songs of people who are lonely, even in a crowd. When I interviewed her, she noted solitude inspires her work:
How would you describe your photo style/aesthetic?
I don‘t think there is a name for my style if I have one at all . I wouldn’t say it’s minimalistic, but it is a very reduced style. I don‘t like it when there are too many things in the pic, that’s why I usually derender half of the sim . And I think it‘s a very emotional style. At least I hope that people get the emotions I try to put in my pics.
Often, I think there is a story behind your photos. There is a before and after we don't see. Would you share one of those stories?
Usually there is no specific story behind my pics. There may be some exceptions, like the pic I made when Amona [Amona Savira] died, but my way of photo making is usually unplanned and depends very much on chance. If there is a story behind my pics it‘s the story of my whole life, the sum of all my experiences that make up my personality and maybe, unconsciously, get me to make pics the way I do it
How do you create the feeling of motion in your photos?
Since it is not possible to catch motion in SL photography it must be done in editing process. I edit my pics with GIMP. I use different filters, usually radial and angular blur.
What is your favorite of your own photos? Can you describe how you were inspired to create it and what your process was?
One of my favorites is “Solitude“. Solitude is always an inspiration for me, maybe my main theme. I was in Furillen with my friend Otto and when he sat down I spontaneously took the pic. It didn’t need much editing and I like it because it exactly shows what I wanted to show
Without giving away any secrets...what is your general process in making your photos?
There are no secrets. I rarely ever have a plan or even an idea when I start making pics. I usually roam SL, try out some poses and sit on everything I see. And if I like the scene, if there is some emotion in it, if find a good angle and light, then I take a lot of pics and choose the best one later for editing. Editing is more fun for me than taking the pic. It‘s usually a very spontaneous, experimental and unplanned process. That’s one of the reasons I don‘t like to work with models (with a few exceptions).
Who are your favorite SL photographers/bloggers?
I have my favorites but I don’t want to single out somebody. There are many great photographers here in SL, in fact I am still astonished about the creativity and quality of the work of some of the photographers here. They are a never-ending source of inspiration for me.
What brought you to Second Life? What keeps you in Second Life?
I joined SL more than 10 years ago when there was a great hype about it with a lot of media coverage. And for some time I was really very enthusiastic about it. This changed over time and I took some breaks but always came back after a while. Today it‘s exclusively photography and some people I got to know through it that keeps me here.
How has SL changed your first life?
Not so much I think. I started photography in RL and I think I have a different view of things but generally SL is just an extension or a part of my RL. It has enriched it like playing golf or doing yoga.
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There is a timeless quality in Imani’s photos. Nightwalk reminds me of some noir thriller, a scene perhaps from The Spy Who Came in From the Cold or The 39 Steps. Of course, it is only a man walking down a narrow, dark cobbled street. Yet there is this sense of menace, of danger. Her ability to suggest so much, to flip an emotional switch in those of us who see her photos, is the magic that will bring me back to her art again and again.
Cajsa Lilliehook joined Second Life in 2007 and has been enjoying the art of SL ever since. Disliking the common practice of critiquing poor photos, she decided to highlight good ones and explain why they work in hopes of inspiring with praise instead of criticism. Follow Cajsa on Flickr, on Twitter or on her blog.