Interview with Laura Coughlan

Laura Coughlan’s tender imagery is enfolded in touch of feminine that dabbles in the dreamy and wonderful. Undeniably oozing a sort of beauty that makes us weak at the knees Laura’s imagery explores the beauty of her muses and the environment that surrounds her. “I also like to explore the models personality and try and create that into a subtle character. Ultimately I want to create beautiful images that resonate with the viewer on some level!”

Who is the wonderful Laura? We’d love to know more about you!

Hello Zeum! I am a 23 year old, London based image maker. My visual language largely consists of analogue photography within a fashion context. Last year I graduated from Camberwell College of Arts with a degree in Ba (Hons) Illustration. I now split my time between taking photos, contributing to Ballad Of… Magazine’s ‘Brand New Art We Heart’ online segment and being a pr & marketing assistant for a small clothing brand.
What drew your interest into photography? Was it always primarily photography or was there something else that took your heart first?
I did not really discover my interest in photography until the very end of my second year of university. At the time my visual language consisted of collaging. Collaging had once been a very natural and impulsive way of working for me but being required to make so much work in such a short space of time, I quickly lost my ability to create anything meaningful. I am very much a ‘happy accident’ kind of person; I had always collaged with images that had kind of stumbled my way. Now that I was trying too hard my work quickly lost its spontaneity. Taking my own photos and collaging with those instead seemed the most logical solution. Luckily I had a good model friend who was kind enough to invite me to a test shoot she was involved in. Armed with a cheap film camera and an open mind, I was completely hooked after just one roll. Seeing the images for the first time was a complete lightbulb moment. Something just clicked inside of me, it felt like I had a new lease of life.
You began out shooting digital and later progressed in to analogue – how do you feel this has affected your work?
My style definitely feels more refined now that I shoot on film. Digital just does no suit me at all. As soon as I stopped forcing myself to use it my work progressed so much; it was so much more organic and much more enjoyable to produce. With film, you never know for sure how the images are going to turn out, that element of chance is so exciting. I also find it so much easier to connect with the model through film too. With digital I was constantly interrupting the natural flow of a shoot to look at the back of the camera, to fiddle around with the settings. With film the connection between you and the model isn’t interrupted and I think that really shows in the end product. For me analogue photography captures something that goes beyond the surface.
Would you recommend everyone pick up a film camera?
Definitely! Even just on a selfish level; I find analogue photography so much more aesthetically pleasing, i would LOVE to see it everywhere.

What element or aspect of your work do you feel defines you as a photographer?
I think my style is very delicate, subtle and feminine. There are definitely folky and otherworldly elements creeping in there too. I find it so hard to define my work as I fall in and out of love with it so easily. I also feel really disconnected from the term ‘photographer’. I think it is because I didn’t study it at university and am not particularly interested in the technical aspects. Ultimately I just like to explore beauty within imagery.
We absolutely adore your shoot ‘All That Glitters’! What was the inspiration behind this editorial?
Oh, thank you! I had been lusting over designer Vingi Wong’s beautiful garments for a while and as soon as I read Haunt Magazine’s ‘Destination Unknown’ brief I knew it was a match made it heaven. The shoot itself was not overly planned; every member of the team had free reign really to do what they thought was best and somehow everyones visual languages intertwined perfectly. We went pretty crazy with the models look, it was very otherworldly and definitely a case of fantasy meeting reality. Glitter, sequins and elaborate trims galore, verses the desolate and run down urban environment. I see the images as the characters imagination, how she creates beauty and fun in the mundane world around her.
How important do you believe storytelling and concept is to a photoshoot?
Having studied illustration for 3 years I think an element of story telling will always be ingrained into my work. As time goes on however I am less and less interested in creating really detailed concepts and creating characters before the actual shoot. Rather than telling the model who they must pretend to be, I prefer creating a character around the model on the actual day, when I actually meet them and get to know them. I think it is just so much more believable and resonates with the audience much more. I love exploring models personalities and trying to portray that through the images; going a little bit deeper. I always trust in fate and love seeing how uncontrollable things like the model, the weather, what garments the stylist has pulled etc can change the initial concept of a shoot.
How often do you find yourself doing shoots per week?
The quantity of shoots really varies. Sometimes I could be shooting 3 times a week, sometimes I will not shoot for a couple of weeks at all. Having been graduated for a year now and stupidly doing any and every shoot I was asked to do, I have defiantly learnt how to say no to people if it doesn’t feel right. I am happy enough with my portfolio to only do shoots that genuinely benefit me now. I think my main priority at the moment is to concentrate on developing my own style further and just like most creatives, some weeks I will be super inspired and want to shoot loads, whereas other weeks I will feel like I need a bit of time to reflect.
Tell us three things about you most people wouldn’t know.
I am such a fan girl. Its so embarrassing. My guiltiest pleasures include Niall from One Direction, Mc Busted and Emma Stone.
Flies really creep me out. So do weird textures, like bamboo!
I can be really introverted. I love spending time on my own, nothing beats getting lost in a good movie and being inspired!

What do you wish for the future?
I have no idea what I want to be doing in the future but as long as I am putting my creative skills to good use and around lovely creative people I will be more than happy.