The actress heads up a new summer chasing comp from the camera specialists.
As I anticipate the phone ringing, I have no idea what to expect from a woman often described as Hollywood royalty. Zoë Kravitz is the epitome of 21st century cool; just a few days before she picks up the phone, a series of BTS images from this year’s MET Gala had surfaced, taken by none other than Frank Ocean, possibly the most elusive man on the planet right now.
Naturally the Big Little Lies star was looking pretty perfect, as expected, while her undeniable prowess as a face of millennials everywhere was hugely evident. But today we’re not discussing her Oscar De La Renta frock, nice though it was, or whether she was a part of the group snapped smoking in the MET’s toilets. Instead we have Canon on the brain, or more specifically, Canon’s 365 Days of Summer campaign and accompanying competition (for which Kravitz heads up the judging).
Have you always been interested in photography?
I grew up before we had phones and digital took over, so taking photos and printing them out to keep at home was always a big deal. As an artist and storyteller I think photography is such an amazing medium. I have photography in my house, I love to take photographs and I love imager; when I watch a film I look at how it’s shot and how people have made something look almost poetic. I think you can express so much through an image.
So talk us through your involvement with Canon’s new campaign.
I love the idea behind the 365 Days of Summer campaign – I love the intention to inspire people to share a story and in particular their summer story, it’s one of my favourite times of year. When Canon asked me to create a short film to inspire other people to join the competition I was so keen as I love the idea of trying to combine social media with photography with intention. I think with social media becoming such a huge part of our lives, we’re snapping photos from left to right that don’t mean anything or have intention behind them, so when they told me the idea I was actually very inspired – I think it’s a great thing to try and use social media to create art.
In terms of storytelling, would you agree that today more than ever it’s important to promote this idea, especially given the current political climate?
Social media has become such a huge part of our lives and I think we have to figure out a way to make it artistic and creative, so it doesn’t just destroy us. I also think the world is in a very delicate place at the moment – there’s a lot of anger and fear – and I think the only positive thing that can come out of that is art. In history the most amazing times in art and the times that a lot of us young artists romanticise are times that were politically difficult. I’m inspired by artists telling their stories, especially now, and those who have turned that fear and anger into a positive thing.
For sure. So summer memories, talk me through your farvouites.
I just think New York is an amazing place to be during the summer – you can walk around and anything can happen – that’s just the way that the city is built. You go out for a coffee one morning and then one thing leads to another and you can jump on a train and you can talk to a random person or you can just wander into a gallery – the possibilities and inspiration in New York is endless. That was the idea behind the summer story, the video that we made was just a very simple day in New York in the heat – I want people to feel how it was for me as I always romanticise that time in New York. I wanted people to know that when they share their story it doesn’t have to be an extraordinary moment – the simplicity of these moments is what makes them. The moment where you’re outside, it’s so hot, your ice cream drips on you, a guy rides by on a bike and he says something funny, you get me? Those simple moments.
Do you think your own story would be different if you had grown up, say in LA?
Definitely! Where you live affects you, but I think New york is like a person to me now – there’s so much character here and I think for me in a lot of cities where you have to be in a car a lot, it’s very easy to separate yourself from everybody else – you’re not forced to interact with anything that makes you uncomfortable. What I love about New York is being on the subway and something crazy happening that you can’t control; there’s so much personality there whether you like it or not.
Obviously your parents are up there in terms of fame. Has this made it hard when presenting your own story?
Not really, there are obviously some people who focus on them, but I know that I’m my own human being. There was maybe a time when I wanted to shy away from talking about them or being associated with them because I wanted my own identity, but the more confident I became in myself the easier it became to embrace them and be inspired by them. Now it’s all good.
In terms of fashion, how do you use that as a medium to tell stories?
I treat fashion in the same way I treat any kind of art, whether it be photography, music or acting. I think it is all about storytelling and portraying an idea more than just the physicality of it. With the MET Gala dress, we started with this sketch and I brought all these images of Audrey Hepburn and we followed that, then took the concept of flowers and that was the Comme des Garçons inspiration. There was a story and an intention behind that dress. That’s what makes fashion interesting for me – if someone just throws a dress on me that I have zero connection to it doesn’t really do much.
Do you have a favourite story that’s not your own? Perhaps fictional?
That’s an interesting question, I’ve been talking a lot lately about Just Kids by Patti Smith. I read that often in the summer and the way that she just paints a picture of her time in the city makes me really imagine the hot sweaty days of her at the Chelsea Hotel with Robert Mapplethorpe. It makes me feel so lucky to live in a place like this, even though sometimes I get bummed out that the city isn’t what it used to be.
So finally, what are you looking for in terms of the competiton?
I’m trying to be slightly vague because I want to see people’s originality and not to recreate what I want – my advice is for people to really live their story and I want to feel an emotion. I want to see an image that shows that people were really having fun in that moment, I don’t want anything staged. I want a capture of a really honest moment. I want to feel what they felt.
Those interested in spending 365 days chasing the summer should politely make their way over to Instagram, share a memorable summer picture and the story behind it (50 words max), tagging @canonuk and #LiveForTheStory.