Artist website: https://laurapannack.com/
The website has a shop portal with items that can be purchased. There is also an image of the week blog which Laura endeavours to update each Thursday or best she can.
Laura is an artist whose work is based on portraiture. At first, there appears to be no overlap with the photo project, yet when archive images are included for contextualisation, then there the overlap may become apparent. Laura makes her own portraits of course, where those with a connection to the photo project are from the family archive.
The introduction – a social documentary photographer, producing self-initiated, private projects for Laura.
Two questions – how do we make work? Why do we make work? Laura’s work is Fine Art, Social Documentary.
She was encouraged to try every genre while studying at university. Having a younger sister enabled Laura to explore an interest in teenagers especially given there was access. Noted characteristics of teenagers were awareness and lack of self-awareness.
Laura is engaged in commissioned artworks and short term projects. She always has a desire to learn about her subjects. Consideration is given to “what is it that interests me about the subject?” Working on a commission means working to a deadline, which depending on the individual, can be really useful. It has often led to good research done on time and the commission ensures work is completed.
One commission Digital Self Esteem, Selfies and self-worth, related to the selfie culture and was produced for the Saatchi Gallery. This used two-way mirrors and allowed the teen to settle their gaze on themselves for 20 minutes for each shot. Another commission Separation, What does Brexit mean for love, was for the BJP. The first thing was to realise a limitation over politics of not being well-read enough or intellectual enough. It made sense to go back to what the artist knew and the work rested on relationships and love. Tests were made using a latex screen in a studio. Photographs depicted couples likely to be torn apart by one of them having to return to their country of origin. The chosen approach was not too controversial.
In determining the working method, there are the following: what’s your voice? What is your sense of style?
Sometimes it is a relief to not to think too deeply, but normally Laura does research long and hard.
Searching for a sense of style
We were challenged to think about our sense of style and comment on what our signature style is.
Sometimes you can look at an artist’s work and recognise the style. You then may wonder if they will ever break out and do something dramatically different, do something really wild.
Hockney was able to paint on an iPad and was able to take the risk. HE can do this as he has done everything else so well.
Sometimes it has been a case of learning the hard way. You need to be clear about your reason for approaching people.
Portfolio reviews are an excellent way of gaining feedback and need to be structured: what is your reaction to this and why, then how can improvement?
Long Term Projects
Young British naturists was a long term project and involved an immense amount of relationship building, organising and planning. The personal project gave the opportunity to take control. “We’ll be shooting over here if you can gather”. Then when a shot seemed likely, the lighting was set-up.
Over a two week shoot, 36 rolls of film were used, but due to a camera fault, only one image was salvaged. A great deal of care was taken to adjust the positions because of the nudity.
Purity ran over eight years. The intent was to bring out love, family, traditions and femininity within the Jewish community. Preparation included working in local clubs to get into the community. However, barriers remained – Jewish women did not want to be photographed. The work initially focused on three families but this reduced down (or was reduced to) just one. Photographing meant going back to the same room every time.
Youth Without Age, An exploration of the fragility of life derived from a sense of age slowly advancing. Sketchbooks were kept. The subjects also sketched. Old Romanian films and theatre productions were watched. Cynically, perhaps other artists work was analysed e.g Alec Soth and his use of water.
Just be with people and shoot. A voice in the back of the head kept asking, “Why are you shooting”.
Projects in General
Some projects ran over 8 or 9 years, while with others it was a case of just shoot.
A visual notebook is kept with images stored on Dropbox. Here they are always available for inspiration. This is useful when making new commissions.
One project involved selecting a railway destination at random i.e. selected with eyes closed. A day would be spent shooting at the selected location. The weekly image blog is updated every Thursday with one picture with a reason why.
Laura is a guest on A Small Voice podcast.