While a myriad of artists take a straightforward route to stardom, Geraldine Lamanna took a circuitous one. The German photographer, who first spent time in Italy as the child of Italian immigrants, has a serendipitous backstory of how she became enamored with the camera. It started in 2003, while immersed in studying mathematics at the University of Constance in Germany. As she vividly recounted it, she started modeling for portraits in order to partially finance her education. In that capacity, she had an arresting introduction to photography that would bloom into impassioned fascination that is still ever-evolving.

“I became interested in ‘the other side’ of the camera,” she says in a well-versed email, “and so I grabbed the next best digital camera, a three megapixel Casio. I called a friend and did my first portrait shots of her in sunset light. She was thrilled by the results, and I had found a new way to express myself creatively.”

Yet drawing played predecessor to photography. At the tender age of about five or six-years-old (she’s not certain), Lamanna was enthralled with crafting illustrations. She summed it up as being like “some kind of international language that everyone understood.” She spoke the language for years, only slightly distancing herself to make time for higher education. And throughout it all, she would never abandon an admiration for creative expression. Already, the unassuming visionary has carefully orchestrated quite an illustrious career, anchored on sultry, vogue portraits. And now, she has done a paradigm shift with the acclaimed Powder Dance series, which teems with emotionality.

The spellbinding series, created earlier this year, shows off nimble dancers’ fluid movements while illuminated by powder. She found an impetus in Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” video for the passion project (more on that later). And she imbued it with a metaphysical freedom, which is felt through the dancers’ intrepid leaps and flights, and the explosion of the white substance surrounding them. Such potent powder bursts can force a photographer to miss everything swiftly unfolding in front of him or her, yet Lamanna’s lens does not miss a beat.

She is quite poised in describing this dynamic opus to GALO, along with sharing her thoughts on photo composition, art in the public domain, and what rouses visual sensibilities.

GALO: In the first photo from the Powder Dance series, you capture a young lady in an upward bound while being encircled by white powder. It appears as if her ascending body is being pulled into the orbit of some otherworldly power to which she has seamlessly surrendered to in the shot. She seems to be cloaked in this benign, fervent and celestial aura. Is that a correct inference or did you perceive the photo in a different light? Is there another feeling that this particular shot should evoke to a viewer?

Geraldine Lamanna: That is actually a really beautiful and fitting interpretation of the photo. For me, the photo transports the feeling of zero gravity. In this shoot, it was important for me to show the emotionality of dancing. I was able to create an echo of the motion by using powder, which achieves an almost surreal look in the photos because even though the moment is frozen in time, it doesn’t feel static. If the viewer — as in your case — is able to feel this surreal and magical mood, I reached my goal.

A photo of a dancer from Geraldine Lamanna’s “Powder Dance” series. Photo Courtesy of: Geraldine Lamanna.

GALO: According to the Huffington Post, you drew immense inspiration for this series from Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” music video. What particular aspects about that video wooed you, and made it an impressive muse for this series? What about the clip invigorated your photographer’s spirit?

GL: The combination of the driving, strong music, and the silence and elegance of the dust-dancer in the slow motion scenes left a strong impression on me. I felt this contrast to be fascinating and emotionally moving. Strong emotions and visual stimuli often inspire me to come up with new ideas.

Dancers in motion in artist Geraldine Lamanna’s “Powder Dance” series. Photo Courtesy of: Geraldine Lamanna.

GALO: After viewing Adele’s video, what was the decision process like with settling on the powder concept as something to accentuate and frame the dancer’s movements? Was it an impulsive decision that took you out of your comfort zone because a lot of your work is portrait, fashion, and sensual photos, or was it a calculated one?

GL: I wanted to do a dancing shoot for quite some time because I think that dancing can be visually very emotional, and sometimes even sensual. However, I was looking for a technique to capture the motion of the movement in one moment, and played around with the idea of using long exposure for it. But I had the feeling that the strong posture and the expression of the dance could get lost, and so I let the idea rest for a while. Then I saw Adele’s video and knew instantly what the solution to the idea was. I was able to imagine what the images would look like, with the ability to transport the desired emotions. The idea was born out of an impulse, but the following planning was very rational, of course. I knew that these shots would be very different from my former photos, however, the idea really compelled me; the challenge to create something different felt very motivating.

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