Photos by Mandy-Lyn
Hair/Makeup by Maxine for Reasons to be Beautiful
Model: Erica Lapadat-Janzen

Interview by Juliann McCandless

"They're total Marilyn recreation photos," says Mandy-Lyn Antoniou. "We were just having some fun...because every blonde wants to be Marilyn, right?" Mandy-Lyn, as she's known, is a 24-year-old East Vancouver-based photographer and DJ. Her body of work, primarily focused on women, portrays female sexuality in a provocative and empowering light. Here, she presents IRL with "Marilyn Monroe inspired" photographs and takes the time to chat about her work, thoughts on feminism, and life on the West Coast.

When did you start taking photos?

I got my first camera when I was 13.

What kind of camera do you use?

I use an early '70s Canon AE-1 that my Grandpa gave me. The one before was a late '60s Miranda, also from Gramps, but sadly she is no longer.

What do you think is the importance of film and keeping film alive in a digital age?

I think it’s unbelievably essential. There’s something real and alchemical about analog and film photography. The fast and easy of digital satisfies me only in the greyest ways. Above and beyond the history of the thing, I feel like my spirit thrives on putting the hard work in, on feeling so emotionally in touch with the medium. There’s a lot more to it than point and click. So many surprises.

The Internet is such a large platform for creatives to exhibit their work. How do you feel about the growing culture of the internet? How do you feel about it in relation to your own work?

Well, I don’t know. Times change, and change is good, I guess. I resent the Internet, because a lot of the time, it feels like a big vacuum, and it’s hard to have a healthy perception of reality with the Internet. At the same time though, everything is moderation. It’s an unbelievable tool for communicating. I appreciate the opportunities.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My childhood, the music I listen to, my parents and friends. The usual stuff.

Are there artists or photographers you look up to? Who are they?

Loads of them. So many that I’d need you to narrow down the categories...like, by decade or subject or origin or something.

Do you think you completely know yourself as an artist?

What a terrifying thought, to know yourself completely as an artist. I hope that if I ever know myself completely, that I die shortly thereafter. The adventures are the things I like living for.

What do you think your biggest challenges are?

Being broke, not having enough money for film, rent or food. That’s the only one that ever really bums me out.

You primarily photograph women. How did this develop within your work?

I’m not sure. I grew up in a pretty chill, sex positive environment. My Mom was an exotic dancer, and my Dad was in a band, and they were 20 apiece. At that time in their lives, they and their friends put a lot of focus on hot girls. Haha. Like Van Halen videos, you know? Maybe that’s why. Anyway girls are just more fun to look at that way. Girls know how to be playful and romantic so subtly, it’s a rewarding process.

 Do you think your photographs empower the women you shoot?


 Is it your intention to empower them?

 It makes me feel really good.

Would you say you're a feminist?

For sure. I used to hate that word a lot and avoided it because of some of the negative connotations. I have to say I am not down whatsoever with promoting any system of belief that is motivated by anger or hatred. I think men and women are just great together. We just need to be more understanding and kind to each other. We just need to work some stuff out. That’s it. My feeling on feminism is that I want more women to feel empowered to love themselves as they are naturally. And we’re dealing with some shit here, this day and age, absolutely...we need to really get together though and make a focused, loving effort to assert the way we’d like to be treated, by society as a whole. You feel me? When I say I am a feminist, I’m saying I love love, and I believe in leading by example. Respect is numero uno, teamwork sort of a vibe.

I feel, I feel... Having worked with you, I feel that you have a powerful directing style. How did you develop this skill? Is it something that came naturally to you?

I’ve always been pretty sure of what I like and what I don’t.

Recently you had a photo show, “Best Coast”... Do you think that being on the West Coast inspires you as a photographer?

Totally. I grew up on Vancouver Island, and I’ve been up and down the coast my whole life. I think it’s the most supernatural, beautiful place in the world. The land, the energy, the light and colors, it’s so good. It’s the best! The light in LA though...an additional golden hour at each sunrise and sunset. Incendiary.

Do you ever see yourself living anywhere else?

I’m open-minded

 What do you have on the horizon in the next year?

 So much fun stuff! Can’t wait to show you!


For more of Mandy-Lyn's work: www.mandy-lyn.com.