Behind The Lens : Lorraine Kinnear

First off, can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in photography?

My name is Lorraine Kinnear, aliased Binie, Momma Monster, Rainey, and sometimes Bean. I’m a 23-year-old self-taught photographer based mainly in Gaborone Botswana. I got into photography seriously from the need for good quality photographs for my then fashion blog  which now is a culture and lifestyle blog exploring African aesthetic through art, fashion, cuisine, architecture among many.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

Realistic, artsy and utterly Africanised. I don’t usually want to explain, however, because words tend to take away from the art, that is, photography. If you must think of it, you cannot create and criticise (in terms of grouping the work into words). You have to know one or the other.

At what point did you realise that photography is what you wanted to do as a career?

When I was about 8, I was always playing around with those film cameras. Especially around Christmas time, I always liked winding back the film. Ever so curious to find out what it is that they did to that transparent film to get glossy proper full-colour photographs. It’s a science I’ve always been curious about. Now that I’m older and I have Google to explain a lot of things to me, I would be displeased to be anywhere else really. I just like preserving memories, if that’s what I ought to call it. I like sharing the beauty I experience with other people. It is not just such a fascination that you can do that, preserve a memory? I guess I’ve always wanted to get into photography but it dawned on me after I started actually doing it, which is about 3-4 years ago.
What are the biggest challenges of working in Gaborone?

Gaborone is a small city in terms of diversity of culture because it’s in not greatly populated. This becomes a great struggle for finding inspiration. I always want to have something fresh when I work with people but in small cities like Gaborone, everyone sort of think alike. Also the fact that our nation is still grandly preservative about a lot of trends I often find myself feeling restricted to express myself truly the way I would like.

Talk about the biggest struggles you had when you first started, and what are the biggest challenges facing you now?

I’m self-taught so first when you approach people they would like to know if you have any formal training, and for the first few months, I had a lot of credibility issues. They wanted to know how I could claim to be what I am if I hadn’t gone to school for this kind of work, which is normal. Background checks are important for any transaction, especially when you want to monetize your craft. I’ve then had to build impressive online portfolios online to always have something to show against that. Currently, I have a problem with having clients who always want to weight down your work by trying to get work out for free or for very little money. Which is something that kills the industry to speak quite frankly because then there isn’t that set standard for how we can work and for much for? If I can get you good enough work to meet your standards you must certainly be willing to meet mine.

Your projects are always a collaborative process, what is it like to always be working with new stylists, models, bloggers and designers.
I genuinely like working with new people, it’s always great to meet people and hear about their great ideas. It reminds me of primary art class, you’ll be working with different people to come up with something mind-blowing. Although there really isn’t a wide variety of people to work with, the few collaborations in the past have been a delight.

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What kind of impact do you hope to make in the fashion world in the next 5 to 10 years?

I aspire to be a moving force in the creative space in general. I want our country to the tops when we speak fashion, constantly doing work to meet international standards so that agencies from abroad can be more than pleased to come scout for designers, models, stylists. I want to become part of this thing that’s bigger than myself, get involved more…get more people involved and make sure others do as well as we do. A group effort towards the country’s pride.

What does fashion mean to you?

It means you get to tell a story, silently…and peacefully. It means self-expression. I mean how one faces the world and explains to the world about their mood, their personality without saying so much.

Of all the images you’ve shot so far which is your favourite and why?

I shot with young aspiring model Casey Purhouse in a red dress somewhere in her home suburb and it was the most amazing little thing. I like not because of the fact that it was a great shot but because of how it gave out a sense of liberty and peace. It just had so much composure and grace. If ever I have a museum for my work it will certainly be taking up the most space.

Where do you find the majority of your inspiration?

In the morning dew and coffee stains…it’s never really anything intelligent. I just like to make my work as casual and as unpremeditated as possible. So I guess it’s from underlying thoughts and my experiences with the world.

What do you do on your down time??

I like to read and get together with like-minded people and take walks around the city, but I especially like to read.

Interview by Kgosi Sethoko, Braam Fashion Contributing Editor and Kgosi on Style