From the age of 13, Lois Cohen has been translating visions from her imagination into artisitc works. As a child, she would do this through drawing, but over time, and with the help of her father’s pocket camera, she started doing it through photography. As a young girl, she played dress-up with her friends, but with a more unusual take. “It was basically me directing everyone and transforming them and myself into the characters I’d made up,” she tells It’s Nice That. It was from this moment that she discovered “how cool it was that photography can realise your fantasies.”
Once she reached high school, the Amsterdam-based photographer started doing small assignments here and there for various magazines, both online and in print. Since then, Lois has continued to journey onwards and upwards, especially thanks to the help of longtime collaborator and stylist, Indiana Roma Voss. The creative duo has been commissioned by the likes of Vogue Italia, Refinery 29, Indie magazine and Nike, for example. Additionally taking on the role of art director, through her work, Lois fundamentally communicates that: “If you feel like an alien in this society, it is probably a strength and you should take pride in it and have fun with it. We’re all a bunch of weirdo-walking-talking paradoxes deep down and I love people who embrace this and roll to the beat of their own drum. I adore and very much relate to these kinds of people, but to me these are the people who are the stars of the world, and that’s how I photograph them."
A love of film has predominantly influenced Lois’ cinematic oeuvre, evident in the rich qualities that are effortlessly evoked through her lens. Besides the “obvious” directors that indite inspiration (Tarantino, Kubrick, Lynch, Jodorowsky, Kitano and so on), she has a particular fascination for 60s cinema. Singling out the decade for its unique costume and set design, it is these kinds of distinct influences, as well as her interest in Japanese cinema, that ensure Lois’ work feels consistently Lois. By making personal projects a priority throughout her career, she has confidently established a style that exudes through any commercial work, and it is for this reason that clients often seek out her services as well.
In a recent work, Lois shoots a fashion editorial for Numero Berlin on the theme of America. “It made me think about the harsh political climate right now in the US,” says Lois, “especially how American Mexicans are being treated awfully.” In an empowering series, the photographer imagines a presidential family of Mexican descent, “claiming their glory and making America worthy again.” Styled head to toe in the AW19 Gucci collection to match the colourful multicultural concept, Lois marks the shoot as “one of the most educational experiences I’ve ever had.” Allowing the models to help direct the shoot to accurately communicate Mexican culture ensured an authenticity to the photographs. “It’s important to not just project your ideas on them but collaborate and hear what they have to say,” adds Lois.
Another project for Vogue Italia came about incidentally while Lois was travelling in Japan for two months. Though she didn’t journey to Japan for the purpose of the shoot, she decided to “bang one out” towards the end, challenging herself to create something special with barely planning at all. At the last minute and with no concept in mind, she booked a hotel room, found some models and asked them to bring along a variety of clothes. “As my shoots are always planned, it was refreshing to just go with the flow and see what happens,” she tells us.
Finally, in the third recent project Lois tells us about titled Living My Best Life, styled by Indiana, Lois confronts the pressures of social media to appear as if users are living a perfect, flashy life. “It’s meant as a little reminder that those people on social media you envy so much, are in a lot of cases, just some depressed fucks hiding behind a fake smile,” she says brazenly. In another project, There Goes The Neighbourhood, she captures floor length mullets, candy-like colours, teen romances and 12-year-olds smoking against the backdrop of working class neighbourhoods (and the wares of 2018 Grad Paolina Russo), Lois and Indiana celebrate the notion of imperfection, and the beauty of juxtaposition.
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