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Miranda Lehman

The Californian photographer and filmmaker captures the darker undertones to her beachy hometown

West-coast dreamer Miranda Lehman loves palm trees and ice cream. But her photographs tell a different story. It’s a much darker world she’s depicting; images which convey intimacy, and a lot of black hair. Also a filmmaker and illustrator, Lehman is set to publish her first book of pornographic drawings and next year will begin filming for a script that she's been writing. Dazed Digital got in touch to hear about her thoughts on sex and why even coffee can be paranormal.

Dazed Digital: Where are these photographs mainly shot? 
Miranda Lehman: Portland, Oregon, where I currently live and my beachy hometown in Southern California.  Both places have a delirious magic to them.  One has the ocean, the other the forest.  They are opposites in climate and yet each possess gorgeous light.  Southern California can be so bright and crisp and blinding and warm; and Portland is so wet, and soft and dewy and dreamy. I'm inspired by both. 

DD: Your work has very gothic overtones - what is this influenced by?
Miranda Lehman: I love dark things.  They make me ache.  I love mystery too.  As a teenager, film noir delighted me for these very reasons.  When you begin to focus on what you can't see and what you don't know, your mind begins to twirl and dance looking for answers.  It gets your imagination going!  But I love bright, airy and whimsical things as well, because sometimes secrets hide there too.

DD:  Your photos make me think of vampires and deamons etc. What paranormal creature would you want to be and why?

Miranda Lehman: I couldn't choose one. Life is so strange. In the right light, a scraggly palm tree can look like a creature from another world.  Even coffee spilling from its cup can take on a life of its own.  The world overflows with such strangeness and beauty already that, even without ghosts and vampires, it feels paranormal.

DD: Explain the role of sex in your work?
Miranda Lehman: As an old woman, my grandmother wrote that her favourite growth experiences had been sexual.  A sentiment like this is quite moving, but just imagine if you could see such a transformation take place in front you!  I've always wondered why there are not more films and photos that depict sex truthfully.  I'd be very happy to see that kind of visual prudishness go away.  I like to believe that with the help of courageous artists, it will.

DD: Tell us about your recent collaboration, who is it with and what is it about?
Miranda Lehman: I’ve started working on my third collaboration with Leslie Puett, who is a wonderful stylist. It involves light bondage and two beautiful women. We arrived at the idea while slurping down hot bowls of curry on a Sunday. I asked her how she'd feel if I tied her up for our next shoot together, and she laughed.  Then she introduced me to Tess, and the three of us took it from there.