Laura is a London-based photographer whose intuitive, sensitive eye translates into work that has seen her win first prize in the Portrait Singles category of the World Press Photo awards, as well as the John Kobal New Work Award for last year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. She favours research-lead social documentary and portraiture projects, and some of her most mesmerising work has included her studies of Young British Naturists, as well as her portraits of 'Young Love' a series on young teenage couples. Her commercial clients have included Samsung, Dove, Vodaphone and Nike. She also gives a great manicure and is truly the best person to grab a drink with, as she’s pretty much a wine connoisseur.
Laura Pannack: Madelaine : This image was a catalyst for helping me understand how interested I was in the relationship between photographer and sitter.
Your approach to photography seems to me to always be about a slow, sensitive approach - an exploration of what's happening between you and the sitter. How has this process developed over the years?
I think analogue has taught me this and I notice that when I change camera the learning process ultimately continues that technique. I am fascinated by human behaviour and I like the idea that the unpredictable nature of people is often characterised by the relationship between photographer and sitter.
Laura Pannack : Timmy & Cassey - Young Love: Editing can be difficult but I remember looking at the contact sheet and this one jumping out. The colours were insane as the sun had suddenly emerged after a thunderstorm when I took it.
Who, photographers or otherwise, have inspired you most during your life so far?
Gosh so many... seriously. From old great masters like Diane Arbus to my best mates. I’m constantly inspired, even just clicking on a tweet can totally channel my creative thoughts. If I was to choose four I would say: my mum for being inhumanely strong and supportive, my sister for her compassion, humour and energy, Simon Roberts for his guidance, skill and organisation and Taryn Simon for her intellect and approach.
Laura Pannack : Float: This image will always remind me of the bizarre but special times I spent at Phoenix resort for my Young British Naturists project. This image was taken in the most unusual heated pool. It was encased in a green house and filled with plants.
Can you tell me a little about your current ongoing projects 'Youth without age. Life without death.' and 'Purity', and what we can expect from them.
All of my personal work aims to confront my approach to image making and my thought process. These projects are polar opposites. One is a very lucid and ethereal voyage, the other a curious insight into women’s lives. YWALWD takes inspiration from an old Romanian folk tale and is a story exploring what happens when you find eternal life. It aims to be a journey and one that the viewer is encouraged to untangle… but I am totally still figuring it out as it’s not clear yet. It is a poetic, fun and liberating project and one that has encouraged me to push the boundaries of how I make images.
Laura Pannack : Saving the spirited children of Ghana: This was such an incredible experience and although there was burden of simply stepping in and out of a place so quickly, the memories have inspired me.
You told me recently that you're interested in the role of other mediums used in conjunction with photography, such as the spoken word via interviews with your subjects. Can you tell me a little more about where you might take this?
I don’t know yet and that's what I like about it. Photography for me has to be emotive. I like connecting with images, just like paintings. I think sometimes the power of the image can be an incredible experience and I am very open to exploring how else we can enhance or alter it.
What are your current challenges and goals when it comes to your work?
IDEAS... I struggle with them, untangling them and I often have writers block. Self confidence. I make work because I enjoy it and it challenges me and sometimes looking at it objectively can be difficult.
Laura Pannack : Graham - World Press 1st Place Portraits: Winning WPP changed my life. It gave me a feeling of belonging. I had always aspired to be a war photographer and realising that my images didn't have to be defined into a category really felt reassuring; I just had to be dedicated and interested in whatever I photograph passionately. Meeting my idols and having support from such an iconic organisation has been invaluable.