Laura Barisonzi prefers capturing images of her subjects in natural surroundings instead of depending on the tried and tested ambience of the studios. The NYC photographer also likes showcasing people in action. Since she often works with sportspersons, fitness fanatics and dancers, particularly for her commercial assignments, this aspect of her visual narratives thrives on an added dimension. The photographs, exuding a youthful verve, appeal to the senses of the audience. However, as an artist she does not want any stereotypes. So every now and then, camera in hand, Laura embarks on a trip to gratify her inner creative. Her restless eyes keep searching for ‘stories’ in the obscure shades and corners of New York and beyond, before she finalises on the latest topic for her explorations.
In challenging herself Laura finds great satisfaction, for only by doing so she manages capturing such evocative images that otherwise would have been beyond her. Her dedication towards her craft also forces her to stay super–fit as she needs spending long hours under the sun. An outdoor–oriented person and admirer of many sporting activities, this aspect of her work too does not bother her unduly. Many years ago Paul Cézanne said, ‘Right now a moment is fleeting by! Capture its reality in paint! To do that we must put all else out of our minds. We must become that moment, make ourselves a sensitive recording plate. Give the image of what we actually see, forgetting everything that has been seen before our time.’ This holds true for the making of any visual representation, painting, sculpture or photography, for artists before and after Cézanne, including, such talents as Laura Barisonzi.
Tell us about your childhood experiences. How the influences of your immediate surroundings, at home or outside, permeated into you to make the artist and human being that you are today?
I had two teachers in my parents which meant that every summer we travelled and spent long periods of time in nature camping and I became very interested in landscape.
At what point did you think of taking up photography as your passion and profession? Did your background in fine arts help in the preparation of narratives with camera?
The transition from amateur to professional photographer was a slow one for me and I worked as a photo assistant for many years. My background in fine art gave me a strong background in composition and colour theory that continues to be valuable to me on every project I do.
You have a penchant for learning foreign languages. Does it feel ironical to work with a visual medium that seems to erase the distances and hardly need any interpretation?
Foreign languages are an important tool to communicate with people and especially for portrait photography. Being able to communicate and connect with people is crucial. I have worked with translators and I don’t find the connection with your subject is the same. I hope to be able to do more portrait photography internationally in the future.
You seem to love featuring people buzzing with action in photo frames. What draws you to explore such subjects? To depict rhythm and motion, what are the elements that you need to focus on?
I enjoy the challenge of shooting objects in motion. To me it keeps the dialogue on the essential nature of photography which is capturing the moment, and allowing the eye to see instants that may be happening too fast for our brain to register and enjoy normally.
What are the challenges you generally face while being involved in a commercial project? Also, what are the positive aspects of such projects that you appreciate?
Commercial projects offer a lot of advantages compared to personal projects such as large budgets for production. Also, I really get the chance to broaden my perspective by working with art directors who may have ideas different than what mine. This I enjoy a lot. On the other hand, sometimes navigating through a commercial project can be difficult. There are multiple creative individuals involved who have different priorities and needs for the project. In a way the photography teams end up mediating, scheduling and prioritising diverse ideas and shooting many options rather than just focusing on perfecting a single image or idea the way one might for a personal project.
How has travel helped you gain perspective? From prominent personalities, talented athletes to young probates of correctional facility, you have met people from various social strata. What has been your takeaway from these interactions?
My experience travelling internationally has helped me a lot with photo production, the unexpected challenges and problem solving of shoestring travel is a lot like problem solving during photo production.
The objective to make people of all walks of life trust and collaborate with you as a photographer is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the job for me. The humility and vulnerability we all experience in front of the lens also make you realise how similar as individuals we all are.
While shooting natural scenes how do you adjust your approach? You love being outdoors. Tell us of your tryst with nature.
Many photographers prefer to shoot in the studio because of the control and precision it offers. Though it can be risky and unpredictable I almost always prefer to shoot outside because of the immense scale and beauty it offers. There’s nothing like the subtlety of natural light and no bigger softbox than a field filled with fog.
Your photographs have been featured in many renowned magazines and newspapers. However, according to you what has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
To me the most satisfying thing is the feeling that you get when you know you’ve just created a beautiful image.
How do you see your journey unfolding from here?
I try to keep the mind of a student; attempting to always improve, reinvent, and try new things with my work. Though in my commercial work I’m frequently asked to shoot in the style of work I’ve already created, for my personal work I try to limit the pressure to repeat and instead try new techniques.
Laura’s free time…
Is spent in travelling, biking, swimming or sharpening her linguistic skills. The sometimes rugged and at other times serene natural beauty of Canadian Rockies captivates her. The magical realm of Dreams, directed by Akira Kurosawa and released in 1990, has long enamoured Laura. Her taste in food is uncomplicated. A $5 bowl full of fresh hand pulled Chinese noodles is sufficient to quell her appetite and quieten the agitated taste buds.
Find more of her work at her website.