Brian Lau (under the pseudonuym Zerkalou) is a 20 year old editorial and fine art photographer based in Seattle, WA. Brian Lau is passionate about cinema and story telling, particularly that of a visual experience and expression. His work captures the banality of life in his most pure sense, being influenced by Lauren Withrow, William Eggleston, and Richard Linklater.
How do you find models to photograph?
I typically shoot my friends who choose to play model for the day, but more recently it’s been friends of friends, or really people who are just recommended to me who just so happen to have the right facial features I look for, and recently I’ve been lucky enough to find people through Instagram, most recently Hannah, who to my surprise, had done her first photoshoot with me. For casting non-model models, I think I just look for people who seem charismatic on camera and are willing to do the dumb stuff like roll around in the mud or steal shovels or hop fences.
You shoot both film and digital. How do you choose what fits each project?
I would honestly say the choice between film and digital per project has been due to two main factors: budget and convenience. My photo story “Mop” for instance was shot on digital due it being conceived and shot during a period of my life last summer when I had no money, and due to me not owning a film camera. But now I’d say the difference between each project, and when I choose to shoot on film/digital, depends on how much control I want out of every finite detail. With film, which I’ve practically switched over to from the end of last year, I’m forced to lend myself to a moment, as opposed to having that moment lend it’s light/color/textures to me, and how I want it to come across.
What about your diaries series? How did you decide to start it?
With my photo stories “Slackers” and “Brighter Days,” I wanted to lend the same honest feeling you’d get from a box of photographs in a shoebox to a sort of documentary, but without constructing a strict narrative through the photos. I think with “Brighter Days” I wanted to document my road trip with my close friend Justin back in the summer of 2015, where everything felt new, and like a few other photo docs/diaries I’m working on, consciously temporary. There’s moments you get to share with people (some funny, like Ben jumping the fence outside a park full of pre-schoolers, or Emily unintentionally flashing us), and then they’re gone into the next moment. I think I want most of my diary-photographs to have an appreciation for the moment at hand.
Where do you get inspiration and ideas from?
My inspiration would mostly come from cinema, particularly Andrei Tarkovsky, but perhaps more obviously and directly, the early works of Richard Linklater (It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, Slacker, Dazed and Confused, working on a story in the same vein as Before Sunrise now too). I really love the contentedness and sincerity of Linklater’s films, and the naturalistic lighting of Lee Daniels’ cinematography, which always seem to capture the complacent nature of suburbs, high schools, college-kid’s apartments with such admiration and pride in a way. I think that with the future of my work, I don’t want my photos to ever lose the feeling that it’s made by some Randy with a bad haircut in Seattle.
How has photography changed your life?
Photography has changed my life in that, I guess, I’m better able to contextualize what’s in the world around me, what’s important, what I remember and what’s relevant, which seems to be teenage girls and colorful suburbs, so I guess that’s telling in one sense. In the other, photography is a means of being able to focus on the artistic aspects of filmmaking; lighting, composition, color grading, and as I’ve started to learn, editing as well. It’s actually really fascinating how photographs work well together in a particular sequence as opposed to with other ones, depending on location, color, composition, even mediums, that I’ve seen.
What would be your dream project?
My dream project would most likely be a film that chronicles a person’s life, in all of it’s banality, humiliation, evolution, what have you, over what to them is decades, in a long flowing, stream of consciousness narrative film, where I’d hope to add another interpretation on the human condition, the feeling of perpetual temporality, self-awareness, self-contextualization, maybe along the lines of a Yi Yi, Boyhood, Synecdoche, New York, or Tarkovsky’s The Mirror. I think that right now, I’m mostly interested in the understanding of existence itself, so I’d hope to continue with that theme through my future work.