I understand you studied art and painting. Can you tell us a bit about your educational background, when did you first realise photography was your passion?

I studied a foundation in art then I tried photography as part of the course and instantly recognized all of my passion for sketching portraits and painting people was translated with a much quicker affect! My dad is a photographer, so I have always grown up in the darkroom and found it fun. However I didn’t recognize an interest until I first took a picture when I was 20.

You capture your personal projects using analogue film. Do you photograph commissioned work using analogue or digital? 

Only if they pay for it – saying that I have just lost 2K on film processing for a commission I’ve been shooting as it simply wouldn’t work on digital.

Most of your personal projects focus on youth, love and vulnerability. How do you select your subjects when considering those themes? What do you look for? 

Teens usually hold these aspects naturally and I just work on instinct and either meet people in the street or through youth organizations.

Would you say your personal projects have helped you in receiving commissioned work? 

Im not sure, as if anything sometimes I don’t get commissioned because my work doesn’t look commercial enough but then other times some people see something they want to transfer over to the commercial world.

Do you ever accept commissioned work that isn’t relevant to your style of photography? 

Sure, if it’s something that interests me I will. All work helps fund projects!

Regarding both, your personal and commissioned work, do you work alone or have an assistant? 

It totally depends on the project. Some are sensitive and have taken years to access so I can’t bring people with me. Other times having someone with me is so helpful- shooting and lighting at the same time is unnecessarily annoying.

Who and what inspires you to be a photographer? 

There are too many things to mention but the reason I am so motivated and inspired is because I am passionate. I am yet to find something that challenges me and makes me happy as much as taking pictures. It’s a complex relationship but one I can’t imagine being without.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Why?

There isn’t one really I think it’s more the small moments that add up and make you realize how lucky you are. A sentimental moment with a subject or an ego boosting recognition like a print sale makes it so unbelievable. That’s not to say it’s not soul destroying and hard but those small moments really make up for it. I imagine it’s the same with having kids

At what point, did you start gaining exposure? And what advice could you give to young aspiring photographers?  

As I left university I had a lot of support and that was so essential. I was motivated to work hard and for little money very early on and this really helped. I really gained experience from a wide variety of internships and assisting experiences. There are no rules or sure paths and I turned down many opportunities and made a lot of mistakes. I think even learning how to not be too keen was a massive thing. When you’re young you can have an overwhelming drive that can actually really put people off. I would advise always being honest and treating others with respect and kindness. That’s what I work at and Im still learning! I think entering awards, assisting and doing internships helps but most importantly remind yourself of what drives you and ask questions. Don’t be put off by any negativity. I always have people telling me photography is dead and that I’m bound to fail but I maintain that I love what I do and I am learning and that’s important.

Laura Pannack

“Pannack is a London-based, award-winning photographer. Renowned for her portraiture and social documentary artwork, she seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer”

Photographer

laurapannack.com

Interview by Ella Cousins

If you enjoyed this interview by Ella, check out her last one with Photographer and Founder of Another Place Press Iain Sarjeant: https://thesouthwestcollective.co.uk/ian-sarjeant-discusses-publishing-and-photography/

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