Today we’d like to introduce you to Labkhand Olfatmanesh.
Labkhand, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My name is Labkhand. Which means Smile in Farsi.
As a young girl growing up in Tehran during the 1980’s, I was mesmerized by the arts and theater. I would play in front of the mirror channeling all my favorite stars from around the world, and lose myself in the fun that ensued! By 14, I was getting really serious as a painter and sculptor, and of course, I loved theater. Nevertheless, my family urged me towards something more conventional (i.e. boring).
After high school, I picked graphic design and went to Azad University in Tehran. It turned out to be a great choice. I tried different mediums and worked entirely analog since we were still a few years from desktop publishing. My photography teacher was really supportive and recognized my work, but unfortunately, the way I chose to express myself did not have a place in Iran at the time. Nevertheless, I managed to put on over 10 solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally.
In 2003, I moved from Iran to the beautiful island of Cyprus and landed my first photography job at Contact Publishing, a British company that had 2 monthly magazines. As staff photographer and style page editor, I stayed active with my art and worked with different international organizations and artists. Photography had truly become my voice, so I took a course of studio photography in London to really expand my skills.
In 2006, I entered a few online competitions in various parts of the world. I was still living in Cyprus, but the thought of traveling really called me in a way I could not put aside. A few weeks later, I received an invitation from one of the competitions in the United States and I planned my trip as if I may never return. I won a second place prize and received a decent check for my efforts. That night, for the first time I thought wow. I really can be a great artist! Another perk from the contest and my body of work was my green card eligibility. Then I knew I had to stay here and continue the great adventure that started in front of my mirror.
Has it been a smooth road?
I can’t say Smooth!! But definitely, it was interesting. As a young girl growing up that part of the world, every minute is struggles and challenge. Also, my family was not as supportive as I hoped in my journey, that alone creates a lot of loneliness and unwanted monument!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I can’t guess what will happen since it’s moving so fast! For the past couple of years, I have felt more doubt about photography as a career. I contemplated making some big changes, but I couldn’t find enough joy or passion in anything else, so I stuck with it. I have to finish a few projects I started some time ago. One is a mixed media video art installation and another is more of a documentary about Native Americans, so stay tuned. Also, I would like to focus on fashion and keep pushing the creative boundaries of photography in that space.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you over the course of your career?
Well, People trying to get work for free or not pay your rate, also lack of enough clients when you are trying to work as a freelance photographer. For sure, a marketing budget with all the new trends and fast forward technology is expensive. You need to update consistently. Also,it is not easy to stay creative and sell your style. I feel lucky when I come across a job that isn’t boring and gives me the room to run creatively.
What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
Do not stop shooting! Never wallow in disappointment and give up. Travel and be inspired as much as you can. Shoot for yourself and do not be afraid to express yourself and be you, Be original!
- modeling: $150-1000
- commercial/lookbooks: email for day rates
- headshots: $150-450
- Website: www.labbiephotography.format.com
- Phone: 310.948.4760
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/labbiephotography