Laura Pannack is gaining exposure all over the place and has a number of interesting projects under her belt already. With a first place for Portraits at World Press Awards and a finalist at Taylor Wessing among others, she is making her presence known. She seems passionate about people. In her work a tenderness and rapport with her subjects shines through, suggesting she has earnt the trust and respect of her subjects. She understands young people in a way that society often doesn’t. She takes them seriously and doesn’t play to the stereotype of a misunderstood generation. Young Love, for example demonstrates how she can take a topic often diminished in stature (even ridiculed) and give it prominence. Her recent series Young British Naturists highlights all these skills and more. The above image from this series caught my attention as the naked young boxer holds the camera’s gaze with a contradictory blend of strength and vulnerability. Plus the colour palette is lush.
If you haven’t seen the Hotshoe interview with Laura on her series Young British Naturists I’d have a look. Such an honest and open depiction of her experience with these fascinating young people and her integrity as a photographer is undeniable (not least because she tried it first hand – getting naked, that is). There are many other places where you can read about Laura’s series and other images, but for the sake of this post I wanted to find out about her general experience as a photographer and you can google the rest.
SB: Working commercially and for yourself, how do you find balancing commissions with personal projects?
LP: I try to see commissions as a partner to my personal projects. They allow me to pursue personal work both financially, helping develop my practice and occasionally opening doors to new ideas. I enjoy both.
Do you find specific briefs help or hinder your inspiration?
It depends on the situation. At times a brief can help give you structure and boundaries to then develop your approach and give the concept ownership but it can also be limiting. It all depends on the subject and context of the work. When time is limited it is helpful to know what your client wants with the freedom to introduce your ideas.
I read recently that you assist and are mentored by Simon Roberts. Could you elaborate a little on how this works and what specifically you have gained from these experiences?
So much! Simon is an incredible photographer and mentor. He has guided me (and still continues to) both as a professional mentor and a supportive friend. Working for him has taught me so much but what has helped me beyond words is having the support of a photographer I respect. I know he will help critique work and guide me on how to deal with professional situations. He’s also a bloody good laugh and it’s a joy when we get to catch up. I am very grateful to him. He resonates the supportive photographic community and continues to inspire me greatly.
It appears that your educational background includes editorial and art based photography. How have these different approaches influenced your practice?
I think courses can be misleading and I just really followed my interests. I have always been interested in the art world and studied painting prior to photography and the editorial teachings mostly came through actual assisting and experience rather than formal education.