An Interview with Photographer Laura Pannack

laura pannack

Originally posted on November 22nd 2013

Laura is a London based photographer who has been exhibited and published both nationally and internationally. Her work focuses on social documentary and portraiture, with many of her personal projects focusing on youth and adolescence – exploring the connections, interactions and relationships that form during this period of life.

In 2010 Laura received first prize in the Portrait Singles category of the World Press Photo awards. Laura has won and been shortlisted for The Sony World Photography Awards, The Magenta Foundation and Lucies IPA. She recently was awarded the Vic Odden award by The Royal Photographic Society, recognising her notable contribution to the art of photography.

We caught up with Laura to discuss her projects, her practice, her interests and more…

Genesisimaging: Hi Laura – are you ready to talk about your work, influences and more?

LauraPannack: Yup

Genesisimaging: Great!

Genesisimaging: Tell us about the biggest challenges you face in your work and how you overcome them?

LauraPannack: There are many… I was thinking recently how I have the best job in the world but like any, there a negative aspects.

Genesisimaging: What would you say are the most rewarding aspects of what you do?

LauraPannack: I have the ability to meet people and connect with just by having a time stopping device. I can communicate, create and never stop learning.

Genesisimaging: Tell us about your biggest considerations when you embark on a project/series?

LauraPannack: Firstly I have to be interested in what I am photographing and often embark on projects to challenge myself on things I am…

LauraPannack: …struggling with. Ultimately a project needs to be creative and honest.

LauraPannack: I never just want to blag a project or produce something with an intended outcome… it’s all about a learning journey.

Genesisimaging: Great answer! What would you say has been the biggest single change in your practice?

LauraPannack: Maintaining faith and taking criticism constructively. Learning from my mistakes.

EmilyMacinnes: Have you ever doubted your ability to practice photography professionally?

LauraPannack: Yes but it’s too magnetic and a part of me. At the moment it is such a magnetic passion.

LauraPannack: I try to ignore these insecurities and work hard.

EmilyMacinnes: You’ve made a strong impression in the photog. world in last few years. Does it feel like it’s onwards and upwards?

LauraPannack: Not really! It just feel like a journey and I am excited about learning as I continue.

Genesisimaging: That’s a great approach. What is it that interests you about people and society?

LauraPannack: That’s a broad question! Soooo much! Can you be a bit more specific please?

Genesisimaging: Sorry! What is it that interests you about the people you choose to photograph? And about youth/adolescents?

LauraPannack: People seem to think I have a preference towards youth, and maybe I do. For me it’s just about interaction and connecting.

LauraPannack: I am usually drawn to things that are nostalgic or emotional. I try to just follow my nose and see what happens.

LauraPannack: Young people are unpredictable and I like that they are adventurous but equally I’m drawn to all sorts of people and places.

LauraPannack: I guess my main aim is to form an emotional connection and to provoke emotion in my viewers.

Emilymacinnes: How did you initially establish connections with commissioning editors to get work published?

LauraPannack: It depends sometimes they approach me or I put together a portfolio and meet them

Genesisimaging: Lewis asks, do you ever find the relationship between sitter and photographer awkward or uncomfortable?

LauraPannack: Weirdly no… It always feels natural. If there is awkwardness I try and embrace it.

Selina Chen: Do you ever have spells where you’re not inspired? What do you do to overcome that?

LauraPannack: Yes! I either hit the library or escape photography completely by looking for other inspiration

Genesisimaging: Lewis asks, with ‘Selfie’ announced as OED’s word of the year today, what do you think the role of portraiture is atm?

Genesisimaging: OED = Oxford English Dictionary

LauraPannack: That is what I love about photography and art… It constantly evolves and offers new approaches. The role of portraiture for me is never one held by a single definition.

LauraPannack: It’s about time, identity and connections.

Genesisimaging: Another great answer. Which image, that’s not yours, do you wish you had taken and why?

LauraPannack: Soooooo many!!!

LauraPannack: There are many Sally Mann images, Richard Mossee’s infra-red images are incredible…

LauraPannack: I love so many photographs it would be impossible to choose.

RickCarter: What do you think of this year’s Taylor Wessing – esp. the staged/commercial (Spencer Murphy) vs. documentary?

LauraPannack: I think as always the show offers a great insight into contemporary portraiture but for me the reason Spencer won was because his image was engaging and beautifully shot.

Genesisimaging: Jason asks, how do you shoot – from an academic or emotional perspective?

LauraPannack: Both. I think a beautiful image needs more than beauty and a clever one more than just intellect.

Genesisimaging: Let’s talk about your work – tell us what you’re working on at the moment…

LauraPannack: Ahhhhh, the dreaded question! I’m experimenting with Polaroid at the moment and doing a few different projects both in the UK…

LauraPannack: …and in Eastern Europe. Ultimately looking at what I can do to challenge myself.

Genesisimaging: That’s exciting! Where has been your favourite place to shoot?

LauraPannack: A lot of my work is about research and access so one project I’ve been doing for 2 years only has two pictures! But I’m trying!

LauraPannack: I try to shoot in the UK as much as I can… Glasgow was a treat and Eastern Europe is enjoyable at the moment but many more…

LauraPannack: …places on my list for the Pannack pilgrimage.

Genesisimaging: Last Q! If you had to choose one single image of yours to represent your practice, what would it be?

LauraPannack: Am I allowed to say my next shot hopefully?

LauraPannack: In honesty I don’t really have one. Each one teaches me something new.

Genesisimaging: That’s a good answer – we’ll let you have that one!

Genesisimaging: I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got time for! Thank you Laura… It’s been great!

LauraPannack: Must dash for my train thanks so much for the great chin wag.

Genesisimaging: Thank you and have a safe journey – wherever you’re off to… Great answers this afternoon.

Find out more about Laura Pannack and see more of her work at laurapannack.com

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