PHOTOGRAPHY: An Interview with Lam Erin

I’ve known of Lam Erin’s art for about as long as I’ve known photography in Second Life exists. Every once in a while, I check back to his Flickr page to marvel at the landscapes that he captures. They are consistently clear and lifelike. His use of dark, bold colors like citrine, garnet and jade is like looking at semi-precious jewels arranged on a page. Because of Lam’s magical winterscapes, in appreciation for all he has done to inspire over the years, and possibly to introduce him to newer artists, we proudly present his art for December 2019! ~ Angela Thespian-Ireland

Angela: Hi Lam! Thank you again for being our FOCUS featured artist for December!
Our tradition is to start out the interview with a fun first question that helps us get to know you a bit better, so here it goes: If you could have lunch with anyone from history, who would that be?

Lam: Being Greek, I would say Aristotle, my favourite philosopher.

Angela: Ah! I didn’t know you were Greek. You have been a member of SL since 2008 and on Flickr since 2013. Did something happen in those first 5 years that inspired you to get involved in taking photos in SL? If not, what did?

Lam: I was taking photos even before creating my Flickr landscape account. Actually, I had a Flickr account since 2009 where I was posting some snapshots from my SL social and business life to share with friends. But it was nothing special. Curiously, though, being a SL photographer was one of my first jobs in SL. In 2007, I had a brief career as a photographer, making images for SL profiles. But I quickly abandoned it in favour of the other business projects.

What inspired me to get involved in photography again was my return to SL following a year’s absence in 2013. After that return I felt that I did not want to pursue new business ventures and that I would use SL, instead, only for fun. And taking photos in SL seemed at the time to be the fun thing to do. And that’s what I did!

Angela: I agree that SL should be for fun. What interests you about SL photography and particularly in landscapes? What inspires you? And are you an artist in RL?

Lam: I always liked visiting beautiful sims in SL. I was fascinated by the realism of the landscaping materials and tools, but also by the talent of SL landscapers and sim designers who created amazing artistic sims. I also noticed when I compared some SL edited and textured photos with RL equivalent that there were no big differences. With proper editing SL photos could look like real and even better than RL equivalents.

SL had also the advantage that it was allowing the photographer to manipulate the scene by moving landscape parts, derendering some blocking items etc. Such manipulation is not possible in RL landscapes. It can be done on Photoshop, but I was not very keen to use Photoshop manipulation (merge different landscaper images, etc.). I thought SL was perfect for creating great raw images where Photoshop enhancements would then be limited to adjusting colors or adding textures.

I am not an artist in RL, but I always had an eye for things. My friends used to tell me that I paid attention to details and had visions of things and scenes that others did not have. So, photography looked like a good platform to demonstrate these skills and visions.of working together.

Angela: Do you have any techniques or routines that you use when taking a photo?

Lam: I have no standard technique of routine except from the use of Photoshop. I approach any new landscape with open mind and I let the landscape guide my imagination. Over time, I developed some broad ways to shoot and edit, but these are not prescriptive. Sometimes I take dozens of shots of a sim before deciding to edit one of them. Some other times I take a few. Also, the editing process does not follow a specific order, is not simple and not always successful. The aim is to try to capture the details and mood of my imaginative scene and this is not always easy to achieve. I have a big number of incomplete images. I only post an image if I really think that it depicts my vision.

Some prominent features of my work include the yellow/gold as a prominent color in spring/summer landscapes. This is inspired from Mediterranean (where I come from) summer sky and landscape colors where the shining sun often combines with dust and creates a yellow horizon effect. I have created a windlight for this.

The other prominent feature is the cloudy sky. This was the result of me not being satisfied with SL sky options. So, I decided to create my own sky on Photoshop as it is very important for the atmosphere and mood in the landscape images. People also use to tell me that they love my monochrome winter pictures: the cream/sepia tones.

Angela: Yes, I do too and we’ll be showing many of those in this winter issue. How do you find sims to photograph? Do you have any favorites?

Lam: Usually I find them from Flickr or from people sending me LMs of new sims. I have many favourites and they are all exhibited in my Flickr.

Angela: Please tell us a little about your store on Marketplace? How did it come about?

Lam: It was a period between 2017-2018 when my partner and I decided to try again some business project. We like vintage fashion and accessories and decided to give it a go. It worked very well, but RL work requirements for both of us forced us to have to choose between SL and RL work. We chose RL work and decided to scale back our SL business involvement, which was also very demanding. But we hope to come back at some point.

Angela: What’s something that a lot of people are missing out on because they don’t know this about you?

Lam: I do not know. I guess some of the things I do in RL where my life is in some aspects different than in SL. But I do not and cannot copy aspects of RL Lam’s life in SL and vice versa. Conditions are different, although my persona remains the same.

Angela: Lastly, how has TSFTG (Too Sexy for This Group) affected your SL?

Lam: I was invited to join very recently (I think 2-3 months ago), but I can say that I have seen there a lot of activity and membership by some of my favourite Flickr artists so I keep following announcements of events and other news. It is definitely a very vibrant community and I am happy to be part of it!

Angela: Thank you so much! We definitely are a very vibrant community and growing so quickly. And thank you for your time, answering these questions. I hope that our readers are inspired to check out both of your Flickr pages: your Lifestyle page as well as your Landscapes page. It’s artists like you who take the time to share and continue to open our eyes to more possibilities in SL art!