An Interview with Laura Jane Harding

Laura Jane Harding is a Cardiff based model just starting to move to the other side of the camera and explore photography through creating some very distinctive self-portraits. I’m really pleased she agreed to be interviewed as part of my ‘muse as artist’ interview series therefore. You can see some of her work on Flickr here as well as below (all images are copyright Laura Jane Harding and used with permission).

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The Reverie

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The Girl with Bee Stung Lips

The Girl with Bee Stung Lips

Here is what she had to say.

When I first saw some of your self-portraits I was very taken with how different they were; close ups with quite extreme cropping, blurring of certain parts of the image and strong use of colour. How would you describe your style of photography?

Well I have always been artistically minded and I’d say that my photography is an extension of that. I view it as fine art or conceptual art. At the moment though I’m still very much finding my style so I hope this to change and progress over time but to still keep the essence of my photography being viewed as ‘art’. Particularly, I want to record a world that cannot be seen, one that lives in people’s imaginations, thoughts and fantasies. Therefore I’d describe my style as dream-like and hopefully imaginative.

The images you create are clearly several steps above the average ‘selfie’. How do you go about conceiving and creating the images you make of yourself?

Sometimes, I have a very set idea of what I’d like to create but most times I go to a location with a  bag of props and then just play around with them. This is when the ideas start flowing and you come up with images that you never thought of before. The same with post-processing, very rarely do I have a set idea of the end product, I may have a vague idea but I like to ‘go with the flow’ and see the image evolve like that. It’s more exciting.

Have you had any formal artistic training?

I attended an art and design foundation course a few years ago where I specialised in fine art which I enjoyed because it meant bringing many mediums in art together to create the final piece. Here I dabbled in photography but have not really had any formal training. I feel that with photography, partly it’s a case of letting that creativity free to begin with, which can be built on and the technical parts can be learnt and honed over time.

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you come up with the ideas for your images?

My main source of inspiration is other conceptual photographers; I can spend hours on the internet looking at other people’s work with both inspiration and a little bit of envy! Other than that I get inspired by nature, music, books, emotions, people…everything around me.

I sometimes think that the name you give to an image is almost as important as the image itself. Would you agree? Do you think of the name first or have an idea of the visual imagery you want to create?

I’d definitely agree, a lot of the time whilst I’m editing an image a name will suddenly pop into my head that would be perfect for the shot. I also keep a list of lyrics and quotes from books to get inspired by. I feel that the name and sentiment of the photo is important as it’s good to have a personal story behind the image to make it your own. However, I think that with conceptual photography, it also invites the viewer to create their own story about what is happening in the photograph.

I’m always interested in how photographers and models keep their creative juices flowing? What do you do to maintain your creativity?

Like I said, I’m constantly looking at other people’s work that inspires me. I think it’s always important to keep taking photographs too, even if the concept doesn’t work out, it keeps your mind ticking. I always like to have something I can edit in times of needing that creativity boost. On the other hand, taking a step back can be good; going for a walk, reading a book, anything you enjoy and may spark an idea.

I know it’s not really important but feel duty bound to ask this for the camera geeks who might read this. What equipment do you use?

As I’m very much a beginner at this and have only been taking photos for about two months, at the moment I only have a Canon EOS 450D and the kit lens, 18-55mm. I feel that it’s not particularly the kit you have but what you do with it that matters, however I do have some things on my Christmas list already!!

Who are your role models (on both sides of the camera)?

There are so many I could be here forever!! As for photographers (and this is to name only but a few) I’d have to say Brooke Shaden, Amy Spanos, Miss Aneila, Bella Kotak, Alex Currie, Ines Rehberger and Nicholas Javed. These are all people that inspired me to begin conceptual and fine art photography as their art has so much feeling and atmosphere, you feel you could actually step into their photographs and be a part of them. Personally, Louise Thomas, Kitty Kems, Lucy Jane Purrington and A.M Lorek are photographers that have helped me progress and grow. On the other side of the camera, models like Jen Brook (especially her Dream Catcher project), Ophidia who is just beautiful and of course Gingerface who’s work just keeps getting better and better.

What advice would you give to models that might be looking to have more of a creative input to the shoots they do?

I’d say collect as much inspiration as possible, don’t be scared to be picky with what photographer you choose for that idea (or don’t be scared to pick up a camera yourself!) and most of all, and it’s a cliché, have fun. You’ve got to be emotionally invested in the creative process, there’s no point picking a concept that doesn’t mean anything to you.

You currently have portfolios on Purpleport and Facebook. Any plans for creating your own web site or blog or exhibiting your work more widely?

Not at the moment, but it’s always a possibility. I want to really get into my own style first and have work that people look at and think, that’s Laura’s work.

What plans do you have for the future? Do you have any particular projects in the pipeline?

At the moment I don’t have any particular projects planned but I want to start working with more models and get comfortable with giving direction and getting the shots that I can see in my mind. Once I get comfortable with this though, I’d love to focus on bigger projects.

Thank you Laura.

For other interviews in this series see here.

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