Laura Hudson Mackay - The Photographer's Interview

Laura Hudson Mackay’s website (http://laurahudsonmackay.co.uk/) is more of an experience than simply a portfolio.  The quality of her work is breathtaking. Laura captures scenery - buildings, that have extraordinary shape and character.  The light she has captured on these structures is beautiful, creating a vision of serenity and timelessness. The trees she has photographed in her page ‘Stillness’, have a dark, magical presence, the composition and textures are strikingly artistic. Her work in ‘Beholding’ and ‘In Arabian Nights’ reveals the beauty in capturing aspects of natural items, artwork and structure and using light, form, and texture, to create sublime, abstract photography.

Her work is a memorable journey through time, using light, shape and texture to create her photographic vision.

Laura was born in Sheffield, England and now lives in Dumfries and Galloway. She divides her time between Scotland and Morocco.

You can view her work at laurahudsonmackay.co.uk

She is also on Twitter

Laura is also on Instagram


You clearly have a distinct style and vision, what are you looking for in subject matter to photograph?

Time and threshold inspire me.  I strive to capture ‘Anima Locus’ – the spirit of a place, always looking beyond the obvious for mystery and otherworldliness, sometimes this can be found just beyond the surface of what seems to be another ordinary moment.  Photography provides the opportunity to capture that feeling of a place or an object, which may not be possible to see with the naked eye. For me, the camera is not just a tool but a portal, creating nexus points. 
I also practice the art of beholding, taking some time before I even pick up the camera to hold a landscape, space or a subject in my gaze. Beholding has a still, slow and spacious quality to it, where vision becomes softer. It releases expectations of what you think you will see and instead you can receive what is actually in front of you. 

Please talk about your photographic education, how do you continue to educate yourself? 

I initially studied Illustrative Photography at Glasgow College of Building and Printing, graduating in 2006. My motivation has consistently been on photography as an art form rather than any commercial aspects and therefore I did consider continuing my studies at art school.  However, I did not feel that studying fine art photography would really benefit me, as I wanted to explore art in a wider sense.  I therefore completed a diploma in Art History at London Art College, which gave me a broader appreciation and understanding of art forms and themes.  More recently I have rekindled my passion for film photography after coming into possession of a 1950’s Hasselblad medium format camera, so much so that last year I attended a darkroom course with an Ilford Master Printer. I also spend time with other creative people; this helps me to move forward artistically and photographically. 

 

What equipment do you use? Camera, flash, etc...  Do you have any favourite lenses, and if so, why?

I use both digital and film cameras and actively choose to shoot in black and white as I find the lack of colour elegantly simplifies the image, leaving it raw, stripped back, honest and timeless. 
I predominantly use my beloved Hasselblad 500C and Hasselblad Supreme Wide Angle cameras.  These vintage medium format film cameras are a joy to use, causing me to slow down and critically assess any shot more than I otherwise would, which has a significant influence
upon the end results.  The SWA has a 30-mm lens, Zeiss Biogon f4.5. The body of the camera is very shallow, as there is no reflex focusing system. A very handy spirit level is set into the top of the camera. 
I also have a large fo
rmat 5x4 Sinar camera although I do not take it on location very often as it is so bulky and difficult to transport that it tends to stay put in the studio for still life work. When time is short, I use a Canon 6D, which is full frame digital SLR, chosen for its size and weight, it’s lighter than most DSLR’s. I always carry around a Leica Digilux 2 for shooting textures, which has an excellent Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens of f/2.0-f/2.4 with a zoom function of 28mm-90mm in 35mm format. 

What or who influences and inspires you on your photographic journey?

I love the work of Edward Weston, the way he took such simple objects and photographically transformed them into beautiful things. If I ever need a good dose of inspiration, I make a pot of tea and sit with a book of his work. Weston wrote articles for publication, spoke at local camera clubs and entered his work into many International competitions, I tend to shy away from all of those things, as my work is about stillness and silence, to talk about it takes something away from the spirit of it. 
Sally Mann inspires me to lock myself in the darkroom for days on end. I love how dedicated to her work she is. As she says’ herself…  “There’s something so seductive about the physicality of the silver print, and the sheen of the silver, and the way the darks and lights come up in the darkroom, and how you can manipulate them. There’s nothing like it.” 

Contrary to the above comments, I’m not a loner and I love being with other creative people. I’m a member of Galloway Photographic Collective, being part of a group of photographers who meet regularly, really encourages me to look at and appreciate other styles of photography and each member of the group offers support, from sharing equipment to assisting with shoots. 

Describe your post-processing workflow?  Programs used, adjustments, etc

I love spending time in the darkroom, I find it so relaxing and it helps me to switch off. I’m lucky enough to have a darkroom in one of the outbuildings at my home in Scotland. 
For any digital work I use Photoshop, I enjoy using blending modes to create texture. Wherever I am, I look for interesting textures and light and shadow formations and photograph them for future use. 

What are your plans and goals for the future of your work?

I’m currently working on a project ‘Confluence’ (a collaboration with another photographer and two storytellers) we are looking at the links between Celtic and Arabian Storytelling and storytelling traditions. The plan is to grow this project for some time and see how it might develop. You can follow the journey here… http://www.weareupland.com/projects/confluence

Laura Hudson Mackay

Laura Hudson Mackay