An Interview with Fine Art Photographer Laurie Freitag

Laurie Freitag’s photography is distinguished in style. Her creativity in her work, ‘Project: Children - The Lost Years’, is unique; full of striking, atmospheric, black and white compositions of candid shots of children, utilising artistic photography techniques and light and shadow.  ‘Project: Blizzard Jonas’ is bewitching in its originality, with black and white brilliance, where people can be seen silhouetted in the Streets of New York’, joyfully alive in the brightness of the snow. Her Street photography within New York City (‘Project: Inside New York City) captures the ambiance of the Big Apple: people, buildings are all shot in fascinating compositions, where the interplay of shape, colour, light, and shadow work together in capturing decisive moments.

You can check out Laurie’s work on her website:  http://www.lauriefreitag.com/

 She also runs L.A. Photo Curator http://www.laphotocurator.com/

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Please talk a little about where you grew up and what you do now….

I was born in the Bronx, New York. We moved a total of 6x before I was 14 years old and that included attending 7 different schools in that time! No one in my family was in the military or running from the law either! Each time we moved it was to a better neighborhood. Canarsie, Coney Island, Far Rockaway, North Miami Beach, Sunrise/Florida. I think all that moving around made me especially keen on holding onto 'moments'. My uncle worked for GAF, the equivalent of Kodak back in the 60's on the east coast & he was always taking photographs and filming our families. He and his family (wife and 4 kids lived upstairs from our family in Far Rockaway.)

I was one of the first female television broadcast engineers in a local television station in Los Angeles working mostly in news. It wasn't my calling but I put in 20 years and learned a lot about what I didn't want to do with the rest of my life.

I'm the founder and director of L.A. Photo Curator and N.Y. Photo Curator. These are online photography competitions that give opportunities to photographers to have their work seen on an international level, as all entrants work is seen on our site along with the artists, artist statement and parts of their bios, CV's and web page info. Twenty percent of all artist fees go to charity.

What does photography mean to you?

Photography is part of who I am. I have been told that I make some people uncomfortable. I believe the problem is my gaze...which I inherited from my mother who, after waiting for me to be born after 5 years, never took her eyes off of me! Children do learn by imitation and that gaze became part of my behavior. That gaze got me into trouble in grade school as I stared curiously at the tough kids - taking in all their differences. This “staring” problem had repercussions and I remember my mother having to go to school on my behalf on 4 separate occasions. This was years before I started asking for a camera.

 

What elements do you feel create a great candid shot?

I document children a lot and when I'm photographing them, a great candid is when I can take the viewer inside of the subject. Catching a distant stare or catching a child unaware of themselves...that is gold to me.
 


How important to you is giving a message through your work?

I consider myself a documentary photographer and I'm shooting what I think is important. I think people will interpret an image the way they see life. It's all subjective and it's not really important to label the work. It's important for me to follow my instincts in choosing the subject and the moment to shoot.
 

The images in your ‘Project: Blizzard Jonas’ are really distinctive. What kind of post processing do you do for your projects?

'Project: Blizzard Jonas' was a fluke; one of those times I followed my instincts, not really knowing what the outcome would be at all. I was watching the New York blizzard coverage from Los Angeles on CNN. I shot what I saw with my LG cell phone. I later edited on FastStone Image Processing Software cropping the images to zoom past the newscaster back into the 'meat' of the image where people were walking in very solitary scenes in basically a closed down city.



What equipment do you use and what is your favourite lens and why?

I own a Canon Rebel which is a pain. Too many buttons. I shoot with my Samsung cell phone as often as I'm able. I also like to shoot with the Kodak EasyShare Z980 which I just throw in my car. It doesn't even have a lens cover. It's just an aim and shoot which produces some really nice photographs.
 

Who or what are your greatest inspirations?

Not to sound uppity...but I just don't have the time to delve into others work. I just shoot. I would have to say what influenced me the most was growing up looking at Look and Life magazines in the 60's. Those large pages filled with black & white pictures really got the attention of a 10 year old Laurie. I started cutting out images and words from magazines and covered one entire wall from ceiling to floor with what I thought was provoking.



Which of your own images are most important to you and why?

Oh boy...most important. I don't know, maybe the Blizzard images because they represent a different direction that I was called into. Those images take me into another time, perhaps the 50's when I was a baby...It's definitely not like anything I've ever done before.

What plans do you have for the future? For instance, are there any projects that are you currently working on or is there a project that you would like to undertake next?

Well, I have several projects in the fire. I'm waiting to hear back from some publishers on 'The Lost Years' project and I've been working on a book that I will self-publish about the Hollywood Heart, a bougainvillea plant shaped like a heart hanging over the Hollywood Freeway. N.Y. Photo Curator will debut at the end of the summer and I'm finally going to learn Adobe Lightroom this year! I have steered clear of Photoshop but it seems like it's time to take my work to another level.

Here is a link to the Hollywood Heart project: The Hollywood Heart

Laurie Freitag

Laurie Freitag