We got to speak to Duran Levinson, a South African photographer who has spent the past year backpacking and shooting through Asia, and we couldn’t think of a better sub-title than to call it ‘The Cloud Dream of Duran Levinson’.
Hey Duran, what do you enjoy taking photos of?
Good morning. I would consider myself a street & portrait based film photographer who mainly shoots while travelling. I love taking photos in Asia, I have been working on multiple projects there for the past year. I enjoy shooting grime and the underbelly that a city has to offer. I also enjoy shooting with non-traditional models and people I find interesting, in their unique environments.
What are you working on at the moment?
Returned from my last photo trip about a month ago, where I spent 2 ½ months backpacking around Asia photographing different look-book and street styled photo projects. I’ve spent the last month working through almost 60 rolls of film, and getting the projects published on various platforms.
I work as a freelance cinematographer and visual effects supervision assistant in the SA film industry and I’m currently working on an feature film directed by Niell Blomkamp. Besides that I’m finishing up my next collaborative film photography book entitled ‘Backchat Boys Volume 2’ which will be out in December. I’m also flipping film cameras and making and selling my own stuff, which is all for up on my website duranlevinson.com.What other visual forms have influenced your style?
The work of my favorite cinematographers and directors has been the most influnetal part of my visual learning path with film photography. I’ve only been shooting film for 2 years but studied cinematography and have been working in the industry for almost 5 years now. I get to freelance on long-form jobs and then spend the rest of the year travelling working on my own projects to keep my life balanced.
I’m influenced by Hong Kong and South Korean cinema. Some of my favorite filmmakers are Wong Kar-Wai along with his cinematographer Christopher Doyle, their movies have had a major influence on my photography. ‘Oldboy’ by director Park Chan-wook is one of my favorite films of all time. I’m also a massive Jackie Chan fan and have watched most of his movies.
What are your plans for the future?
Plan to continue freelancing in the film industry and travelling to new countries in my free time to make more pictures. I’ve got various projects I will be continuing with in Asia, and will be heading back there soon to continue work on that. I am going to be doing some music videos in China, and directing my first “proper” short film, which will be set in Hong Kong.
I’m going to be working with other artists on photo zines and books which will all be self published. I hope to start my own film photography collective / publishing company next year.What kind of music do you draw to when looking for inspiration?
I’m pretty much listening to Hip Hop, Rap, Hardcore, Rock, Grindcore, Metal, Country and Folk music, all of which gets me amped when I’m travelling, shooting or editing. I can pretty much enjoy anything but I’d say the top 5 artists I’m listening to right now are : Kurt Vile, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Danny Brown, Mr Oizo & Culture Abuse.
Tell us about your favorite photographic-led experience.
I’ve honestly been super lucky this past year. I got to travel around Asia twice and spend time working on projects in each country I went to. Every time I go to Hong Kong, it ends up being a debaucherous yet fruitful trip filled with crazy people and photos.
I was super grateful to get to go to South-Korea recently, where I linked up with another South-African photographer Carl Jones. One night in particular that was wild was when we hooked up with the Places+Faces crew from London, those guys shoot with all the biggest rappers in the game. They threw a huge party at a trap club and we partied with these famous Korean stars. After that we went for a 6am dinner, which is common in Korea, and then continued drinking well into the next day. I worked with the guys on their new lookbook which turned out great and then they threw an exhbition party the next night. Needless to say I was hungover for like a week when I left South-Korea.Which photographers have pushed you to do better by your own work?
I’ve been using Instagram for my photography for about 2 ½ years now and I’ve obviously discovered a trove of artists whose work I admire and has inspired me. Artist whose work I’m loving lately include; Davis Ayer, Ren Hang, Yoshikazu Aizawa, Lukasz Wierzbowski, Troy Holden & Elsa Bleda.
If you could live anywhere on the planet, where would you choose to go?
From the countries I’ve visited so far it would be an easy choice, Seoul. I love the way of life there. It has everything you could possibly want from crazy fast internet, to the best Asian food, fashion and Asian hip hop scenes.
Shooting in Seoul is so good, yet I love how every country in Asia is so different and offers different opportunities. Seoul is a super cool forward thinking city with tons of art to inspire and people to collaborate with.