FAMERS a few months ago I wrote about Raandesk Gallery, an online art gallery. One of the artists I have been exposed to through Raandesk was Laura Salierno. She is a photographer that takes the random flashes of life and turns them into framed eternities. March 3:42 p.m. was the photo that drew me in. The complexity of the picture wove so many stories in that one shot that I was compelled to look further into her work. As I explored her work, I realized that all her photos shared that same complex frailty and depth, proving what a magnificent medium photography is. Recently I was able to interview this vibrant young photographer and learn more about how she sees the world.
Was photography a passion you had since you were a child?
I was always very interested in art, loving to draw and paint, but I found photography later. I started to become interested in it at a young age, but it was not until college that I really developed a love for it.
At what age did you begin taking pictures?
I am not really sure. I always took pictures, mainly of our pets and local squirrels.
At what age did you receive your first camera (Polaroid, disposable camera, etc.)?
I was probably around five or six. It was a bright pink point and shoot, and I loved it. I got my first SLR 35mm camera when I was eighteen.
How did the darkroom influence your love of photography?
I really fell in love with the darkroom in college; it was a quiet place for me. The process of standing in the dark and watching your work come to life really enchanted me. I worked in the darkroom during my time in school and printing almost became therapeutic for me, it is such a craft and a labor of love.
As a photographer that works with different forms of photography, what do you believe are the drawbacks of digital photography?
I think that the biggest drawback of digital photography is that less people print out their photos and create albums. I would hate to see photo albums disappear; they are such wonderful tactile experiences of personal memory. I am also scared that people will slowly stop learning how to develop and print film. Digital photography has some really great benefits. You don’t have to (despite how much I love it) expose yourself and the environment to the caustic chemicals in the darkroom, and in a lot of ways digital photography is more accessible to people.
Seeing the world through a camera lens, how do you see the world?
I tend to see the world as a series of small moments, little pockets of beautiful, even if [it’s] sometimes ugly events. Plus I am always looking up; sometime I think I must look like a tourist on the streets.
My favorite photo is March 3:42 p.m., could you tell me more about that photo?
This photo is part of a large body of work that is really about those in between moments in life, the times when you are not really doing much of anything. These pauses really make up a lot of a lifetime. I think of these shots as a kind of removed self-portraits, although they feature different people, they are all me observing the beauty in the still times during life.
Could you tell me more about the SKYLINE/BOOTS series and what prompted you to begin that project?
I thought that it was important to support New Orleans after Katrina, so I went with a few friends for the first Mardi Gras. I thought it would be a gesture of both economic and emotional support, especially since this Mardi Gras was severely under attended. I did not have any real project in mind before I went down there. While visiting it hit me that I was there during such a strange moment, I thought that the juxtaposition of images of the damage from Katrina and the celebration of Mardi Gras was an important thing to share; it spoke loudly of the grace and spirit of New Orleans to me. It also struck me as a fleeting moment something that hopefully will never happen again.
Could you tell me more about the Plaza Series?
The Plaza Series was also a project that sort of found me. The initial concept behind The Plaza series sprang from a conversation with a friend about the ensuing liquidation sale of all merchandise tied to The Plaza Hotel. I immediately wanted to capture that moment especially since The Plaza was such an iconic hotel. I really wanted to make sure that someone captured it in this transitional stage. I joined my friend and went through the hotel trying to capture the eerie nature of such a scene. I am really happy that I seized that moment, I feel as though it is a special time in the history of The Plaza, one that may not come along again.
How does living in New York influence your photography?
I think that New York influences my work in the same way that it influences anyone who lives here; it is a constant stream of information, visual and other. I think that being in NY you are exposed to such a variety of scenes and happenings that you can’t help but allow them to color your existence.
To view more of Laura Salierno’s photos, visit www.raandeskgallery.com/artist.php?artistId=22.
Photos courtesy of Raandesk Gallery
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