Lauren Simonutti on story telling through images
Often photographers and writers do the same thing: they tell stories. True ones or imaginary one, stories that capture all our attention and let our imagination wonder. It can be through words and it can me through images but story telling remain an important part of our life. Lauren Simonutti do just this, she use photography as a mean to tell stories, short life instants captured by the lens that stay impressed on the paper and in our mind.
Can you shortly introduce yourself ?
I live in Baltimore and am a traditional black and white film and darkroom photographer. It is not due to any distaste for digital- I think it is remarkable technology- but film & darkroom have always given me what I want, including the unexpected, and I am loyal to that which treats me well. I also have an affinity for silver and getting my hands wet.
How did you started photography?
My mother gave me the first photograph I ever took, at age 3 1/2. I began shooting regularly with a 110 camera at about 11 or 12 and when I switched high schools in my junior year I was fortunate enough to transfer to a school with an outstanding photo program. I had that tiger by the tail and have followed it ever since.
What is that interest you in photography?
I like that it is based in reality. I do not use trips, have no magic props, I hold things up with string and tape, my tableaus are commonplace but with photography they become something more than that. Nearly always different from that which I see. My life is embroiled in such a system of un-reality the images become a comfort. They are proof of what does exist.
How would you describe your work and how to you choose the subjects you work on?
I cannot describe it. I had long wanted to be a writer, wanted to write the great novel and it took time for me to accept I simply lacked the talent. I did have the talent for story telling in images though; I believe you have it or you don’t. Strength of will is not enough. So I choose to let the work speak for itself.
The subjects I choose almost capriciously, I do not plan ahead. I have a shooting room full of miscellaneous objects and when the glimmer of an idea appears I go up there and choose the appropriate one/ones. My choice of models is limited to myself, I have been ill and basically housebound for the last three years so when an image needs a model I have no choice but to use myself. Fortunately I have a changeable face.
My bookbinding works hand in hand with my series on many occasions and is instrumental in giving structure to my thought process.
What are you trying to capture through photography?
An image caught in your mind is a wonderful thing unless it sits there too long at which point it begins to fester. Unrealized images can act as a slow poison so the point is to capture them in silver and get them out of your mind before that happens.
To the viewer of your work what feeling or impression would you like leave?
Once you put a work out there it is no longer your own so any image or impression is entirely up to the viewer, and in the circumstances, will always be right.
Right now are you working on a specific subject? If yes can you tell us more about?
I have been working on a series of ‘chapters’ for a project called the ‘Politics of Injury’.
What are your main inspirations?
Many things, ordinary things, found objects, light, the reactions of my beloved chemistry and the myriad of results it can achieve, the technical. As for artists I am strongly influenced by DaDa, to an extent the surrealists, collage, Remedios Varo, Hand Bellmer, Duchamp, and especially Goya
I am also very interested in books. I am a bookbinder as well and handmake books of my images and find that the structure of the book can bring a new interpretation to work. It’s interactiion with the binding, the marks of your hands, the encapsulation. And it is very nice to finally know when you are done with a series in the simple act of closing the book.
What do you look for in other photographers work?
I tend to look for what I find.
If you could invite 3 photographers or artist at a dinner who would it be and why?
I never have anyone in my house and at the moment I cannot leave it. Dinner plans will have to wait.
Any young photographers or Flickr member which work you really like and that you would like us to discover?
There are a number of people whose work I find compelling but I find it more interesting to go through group pools and pick and choose what catches my eye. Best to discover for yourself.
Thank you Lauren
Interview by Frankie