Interview: Photographer Laure Joliet


Photo by Emily Johnston

Portrait of Laure by Emily Johnston.

Photographer and personal friend Laure Joliet chats with us about travel, intuition and the subtleties that influence her work. Based in Los Angeles and raised between California and France, Laure frequently shoots for outlets like The New York Times, T Magazine, Domino Magazine, and Wall Street Journal. Her images are intimate with a magical, discerning attention to detail. The Goodwin exclusive notecard set is titled All of a Sudden and centers around pink golden light. Read on for our inspiring conversation:

I’ve always been struck by the elegantly simple and understated beauty in your work. You always seem to find a way to elevate scenes or locations that might at first glance seem unremarkable. How do you know when something is worth capturing on film?

The short answer is that I rely on my intuition.

The slightly longer answer is that I traveled a lot when I was young, going back and forth between California and France, and I think it cultivated the quiet observer in me. All that travel and cultural straddling made me sensitive to subtleties and changes in my environment. When you add in that my parents (and family) are very creative and dragged me to tons of museums - I always connected to the artists who seemed to transform the ordinary, so it makes sense that I pay attention to forgotten moments. I loved seeing how everyday life could be made to be so glorious.

You do a lot of traveling for work. Have you found any helpful tricks or rituals that help you to stay centered and focused while consistently living out of a suitcase?

I could write a book on the subject!

Travel can be so fun and exciting, and can also totally wear me out, so I’ve found that being consistent is really helpful. I have a travel uniform (loose pants, cozy sweater, scarf as blanket), pack my gear the same way every time, my toiletries are all duplicates so I don’t need to do the mental exercise of packing those, and I always give myself enough time to get to the airport. There’s so much you can’t control, that giving yourself the gift of not being in a panic or a rush is deeply important.

A big change that happened in the last year is that I used to be very obsessed with the idea of always packing efficiently but it really stressed me out. I would agonize over figuring out the exact outfits I would wear on day 1, 2, 3 etcetera. I now give myself permission to pack imperfectly. It makes packing faster and I feel way more relaxed.

In terms of routines while I’m on the road, I bring all of my face soaps, creams etcetera and I keep that morning/evening regime up while I’m traveling. I also always totally unpack my bags when I get to the hotel. These two things really anchor me. I put my journal and the book I’m reading on the nightstand, toiletries on the sink, clothes in the closet. It makes you feel like you have arrived and aren’t still in transit.

Then you can really be where you are.

You shoot a lot of beautiful interior work, is that something you have always been drawn to? Did you ever envision yourself with a different subject matter? 

I have always delighted in people’s personal spaces and the stories behind them. I don’t need a space to be traditionally beautiful to love it though. I think of homes as worlds we get to entermy grandmother was a weaver and a woman who delighted in her collections and treasures. Her home and atelier were full of objects and decisions that perfectly reflected how she experienced the world, so pretty early on I started photographing the details: little messes, looms with stacks of yarn, shelves full of glass bottles, beads, plants, her life collected around her.

This same feeling, of being in a space and not being able to wait for the person to leave the room so that I can photograph it, is what drives my work. So whether it’s a perfectly designed space or an artist’s studio, I want to continue finding the personal, the slightly off, the story behind how and why a space is the way it is.

What are some particular challenges of shooting static non-human spaces versus shooting a model or portrait?

Because you don’t have the emotion of a living subject to capture your attention and your eye, you have to find the emotion in the room, otherwise it’s too easy for things to feel flat and sterile. So tuning in and finding the feeling, the texture, the details that make you connect with a space, you have to stay really sensitive to where you are. It’s an introvert's delight.

Could you tell us the story or inspiration behind one (or a couple) of the Goodwin exclusive notecards? Do you have a favorite image from the set?

I called this collection All of A Sudden to invoke the feeling I get when a mundane moment suddenly seems to present itself to me as a deeply beautiful moment. Call it the sublime or the magic of the ordinary. I love to travel and notice things, and then take little pieces of the trip home with me. A number of these images were taken in or around my aunt’s house in Provence. It used to be my grandmother’s house so I have been going there my whole life. It’s a stone house with thick walls and lumpy tiled floors and doorways you have to duck under. The house has been sitting there in the middle of a field of olive trees for over a hundred years and it feels deeply comforting, the house can really hold you. There I feel connected to myself, to a deeper level of family and security.

—Shop the All of a Sudden notecard set here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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