BDC Spotlight: Lea Ibragimov
For this month’s BDC Spotlight, we spoke with Lea Ibragimov, photographer and Executive Assistant to the Managing Director, to learn about her experiences, inspirations, and more. Before working at the BDC Lea was a Peer Leader at Lion’s Tooth, a community project serving young people in all of their intersecting identities, and was the first teen ambassador at Photoville. Follow Lea on Instagram @leo_da_ibra.
Q: How would you summarize what you do at the BDC?
I started as a teaching assistant to a middle school class and now I do everything from event planning, order placement, invoice organization, even barbecuing! Haha. I enjoy hands-on projects, so when I can, I also help with exhibition installation and break-down.
Q: Do you remember your first real connection with photography, either an image or a camera or something else?
Yes, I remember I went on a school trip to Jerusalem in elementary school, and I asked to borrow my parent's cool little Canon Powershot. I took a photo of a rose, a picture that I still have. I was so excited by how good it turned out and ever since then, I became the family photographer. My dad is also into photography and every day of my childhood was filmed on a camcorder or photographed on some new upcoming camera at that time.
Q: You were the first teen ambassador of Photoville. How important do you feel having access to public art is in a community?
I think that knowledge is power, and visual learning is so helpful. Especially because images don't need language. And I think to an extent it is a way for artists and "viewers" to connect without having to know each other. I felt grateful for having this experience with Photoville, as it genuinely made me realize how thankful I am to live in a city with so many art institutions and free museums. It is a fantastic resource for all ages and helps inspire communities.
Q: Can you tell us about one of your favorite experiences at the BDC?
One of my favorite experiences is the end-of-year presentations [Bronx Junior Photo League]. There's something about seeing students presenting their semester's worth of hard work and creativity and seeing their teachers and family being encouraging and proud of them. Even for those with less supportive families, it's nice to have BDC staff support every single student. I also love our holiday gatherings which feel so comforting and empowering, especially when we do photo swaps.
Q: What are some of your favorite photographers, photo books, or photo projects?
I highly enjoy decades of fashion and film photography. It's very hard choosing favorites. I enjoy Cindy Sherman work, Annie Leibovitz, and a couple New York photographers who photographed throughout the 20's-70s!
Q: How has working at the BDC impacted you or your own work?
I think working at the BDC and being surrounded by all creative-minded people has helped push me out of my comfort zone in terms of experimenting with cameras. I have developed my first rolls of film this year! I learn more each day as I observe and speak to my colleagues. I think it makes me feel less afraid of making mistakes because, unlike school, I do not get penalized and instead, I can learn to improve and get everyone's feedback on it. I have also tabled at my first market and booked my first few event gigs which was huge for me.
Q: Who/what inspires you?
Firstly my grandpa and my dad. When I was younger I was always curious and looked through every family album. I was mesmerized at the quality of the B&W printed photos, only later to realize my grandfather was the one to film, develop and print them all himself at his home made darkroom. He was a multi-talented man who was also a war veteran, fire fighter, musician, and radio host. Many of my dad's and aunt's photos were taken by my grandpa and my dad has indeed continued his legacy at school and when he was enlisted in the soviet army. It's so impressive the effort they both put in. Another thing that inspires me is social media, it is a free source of inspiration and style and I enjoy scrolling through my feed and seeing other people's work.