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Dutch Photographer Shoots Sensual Portraits of Her Friends Skinny Dipping

Did someone say #freethenipple? Lana Prins did that before it was trending. The 22-year-old Rotterdam-based photographer has had an obsession with the female body since she was 15 and knows how to capture it in the most beautiful ways. She finds inspiration for her cheeky but romantic images in her friends, her sister, and herself, too. Because, she says, it's okay to be proud of your body and sexuality in a world dominated by the male gaze.

Lana's work has appeared in a host of independent Dutch magazines (see the shibari-inspired series she recently shot for erotic journal Self Control), and she's currently showing pieces at The Hoxton Hotel in Amsterdam. 

"As I started discovering photography, I discovered my own sexuality as well."

You often shoot your friends. What came first: your photography or your beautiful friends?
My lovely friends! I was lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful women when I started taking pictures at 15, and I still am. I've always been thrilled to experiment with [capturing them] and challenge boundaries.

Your work is characterized by women, romance and exotic locations. What story are you trying to tell?
I strive to romanticize the world around me. My work is only a fraction of the exciting stories that go on in my head. I want to enable the viewer to experience these stories by documenting parts of them. The curiosity I developed for the female body as a little girl has turned into an obsession. My work's sensuality is not only an actualization of my imagination, but also of the sensuality every woman possesses. As I started discovering photography, I discovered my own sexuality as well. This shows in my work. I want to portray the feeling of freedom I get when I express myself. I've never really felt like anything holds me back, and I want to encourage other people to feel the same way.

"I'm lucky to know the most beautiful women in the world: my friends and my sister."

What would you say if someone accused you of objectifying the female body?
If anyone thinks I photograph for the sake of sexualizing my subjects and nothing more than that, then it says something about that person, not my work. An image of a naked women doesn't have to be an objectification of the female body. My work is about my passion for the female body, sexuality and sensuality, not about pleasing people. Women have the right to be proud of their bodies, and I hope that my models agree.

Why do you only photograph women, and will you always stick to that?
A woman can be seen as a symbol of innocence, but also as a sex symbol. I like to play with those two ideas in my work. I expose both sides, in various amounts per image, to develop a constant tension. This experimentation is incredibly interesting to me. I don't think that I could ever see or photograph men in the same way.

How do you choose your models?
I'm lucky to know the most beautiful women in the world: my friends and my sister. I prefer to work with people I know, because of the more intimate connection. This also results in more sincere, real photographs, because I know my models are comfortable with me.

You use yourself as a model too. Is there a difference between a self-portrait and a selfie?My self-portraits are an expression of a certain emotion. It may sound a little strange, but turning myself into the subject of a photograph feels like I'm having an intimate moment with myself. I like to take the time for it. A selfie doesn't express much of my personality or emotion.

@lana_prins