Artists and Artisans : : What Photographers Can Learn from Master Crafters
Posted on 28th March 2017 by Austin Gould

We spoke with photographer Laura Barisonzi about an ongoing personal project where she documents artisans at their crafts. She was interested in people who saw a project through from start to finish, applying meticulous attention to detail in their work. In the age of digital photography, these skillful makers have re-inspired her own attention to detail in crafting her images.

Here's our interview with Laura:

When and where was this body of work created? Who was the client (if anybody)?

“Makers” is an ongoing personal project that began in early 2016. Since then, I’ve photographed guitar builders in Greenwich Village, wooden boatmakers in coastal Maine, a woman who makes custom knives for celebrity chefs in Brooklyn, a glass blower in Worcester, Massachusetts and many more.

The way you capture makers at their crafts is very compelling. What inspired this project?

I had an assignment photographing the CEO of Etsy. We shot in the studio of one of his favorite makers’ in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Seeing the excitement and connection of the maker to his work I was instantly drawn to the idea of photographing a series based on craftspeople who work by hand in their studios.

What was your initial approach to this subject matter? Was there anything unique in your preparation?

I found all my subjects through research and networking, and was definitely looking for a diverse group of people who were creating their own work, not outsourcing to other vendors - people who were really producing quality products with meticulous attention to detail.

Can you explain your creative process and the technical aspects behind creating these images?

Before I shot any images, I would have a discussion with the artists about what the most important steps in their process were, scheduling around pieces that were at a crucial step in the build in order to highlight the most labor intensive moments of the maker’s technique. My general goal is to light organically, enhancing the existing light in a space, highlighting the work of the artists in their studios, and capturing the environment, tools, and raw materials in a dynamic but naturalistic way.

What is the conceptual relevance of this work? Is there a certain style that you were going for that relates to the objective of the campaign?

I’m interested in the role of process and creation that artists and artisans must undergo. I admire the dedication of those who have ideas and pursue those ideas to craft objects that weren’t there before.

If you had one piece of advice for emerging or aspiring creative professionals what would it be?

Some of these individual products, like the wooden canoe, take as long as 14 months to create. This is so different from an instantaneous photograph in the iPhone era. The process is compelling and instructional. If we want to create images with lasting value we must also approach our work with purpose, plan thoughtfully and master techniques.

Check out more of Laura Barisonzi's work in her Dripbook Portfolios .

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