Photographer Laura Carrascosa Vela from Spain presents her own ‘‘mini-world’’, and questions if the "role" of women really exists in the photography world. Cultural diversity, migration and feminism, intimate work and a universal message, the magic of the process in analogue photography, fellowship and friendship in the artistic creation and the interest in people. This and even more is what photography means to Laura.
Hi, welcome to the Lomography Magazine, could you please introduce yourself?
I was born with 8 months on August 16th, 1993, in Madrid. My name, Laura, was chosen by one of my sisters because her frog was called like that. I started taking photos in 2009 with a digital camera that someone gave me as a present. We were in full swing of Metroflog, Fotolog, Flickr ... and the Lomography movement in Spain (it was the 25th anniversary of the Lomo LC-A camera). I was so curious that I bought a Diana F+ and a Werlisa club color. The first photo that I liked the most is from that time... I took it on a school trip where we were visiting the ashes of some nuns! And later, in 2013, it was part of the Vorhandenheit project. After finishing school, I decided to study Philosophy and Art Photography, and then I studied a master's degree in Development of Artistic Projects. Now I am very excited because I am going to start one about China. Currently, I develop my personal projects and I work in my own photo company; PETRARCA, a group of women photographers (UHF) and a cultural and educational platform with Xirou Xiao MAN DA RI NA .
What made you realize that you wanted to be a creative artist? Who or what was your source of inspiration?
It was something that developed intuitively. I remember that as a child I had fun in many ways: imitating people, trying to play different instruments, starting and finishing diaries, recording homemade movies, writing ideas for novels... I was always looking to communicate, to get to know myself and to connect with someone. There were also some not so funny moments: I got bored in class, people bored me and I often annoyed my family. For example, I thought about studying Marine Sciences or Sound engineering, but in the end I let myself be carried away by what came naturally to me. And I was so lucky to be able to choose it. I think that, in the end, my constant was my interest in people. What unifies us, what separates us, how to understand ourselves better, how to enjoy more and feel united and linked... I was inspired a lot by my father and my Language and Literature teacher, María Ángeles Gallego. By my father, because he puts a lot of passion in everything he does and he is super creative even with the smallest things. And by my teacher, because she never stays on the surface: she delved into your world and helped you to really see yourself.
What do you like the most about the analogue photography?
The magic of the process, which helps you to work the wait, the surprises that may appear, the beauty of a chemical copy, the color, experiment in the lab...
When we discovered your work, we found the project “Como la casa mía”. It seems to be a personal and professional challenge. Could you please tell us more about it?
Como la casa mía accompanies Xirou Xiao (1992, Hunan, China) in her growth since her arrival in Spain until she reaches maturity, already at age 25. The project was born in 2014 when we were both getting to know the young people of the Chinese community in Madrid. We realized that we had so many things in common and then, suddenly, a very nice friendship flourished. That mutual curiosity, that encounter between different worlds, is the engine of work. It was my first long project. We were producing photos during three years and I am still working on it, although now we are also leading with the edition of a book, an interactive web and other texts. Personally, I had to work a lot on patience and ego. We are used to show everything, to the immediacy, to work individually, not to check our privileges, to believe that the achievements are just our own ones... Creating work with other people allows you to face all this. Xirou transmits a lot to me and I wanted to convey those emotions to the photos, but the image has its limits and so do my capabilities. In addition, her experience in seeking-creating a home goes beyond the individual: it is a shared longing. Professionally, I had to learn to conceptualize better, to look for less easy symbols, to make each image work alone but at the same time to transform them as a whole... and to ensure that an intimate work centered on a person can have a universal message.
What background does it have?
My intention is to achieve that the people who see the project could enter into the world of Xirou and be as fascinated by it as I was. And, from that fascination, see beyond a migrant, a Chinese, a woman, a class... We are made of the same material, but our lives are not the same. I think that the classifications and the contexts are important to vindicate ourselves because, unfortunately, it affects us. We would like all of these words not to be necessary. I do not want to represent a reality, I really want to build a mini-world, a kind of house that we could feel like our own. We want to share our emotions and this house we wish to expand.
Do you have some cultural diversity anecdotes when shooting with young women?
Yes, I do! Once, a girl returned me a photo that I took of her retouched "in her own way" because she did not feel identified with the image I had given her. She retouched it with a Chinese App, Meitu Xiu Xiu, and she told me that now it looked like her.
For a long time people have been talking about the role of women in front of a camera. But what about the other side, as a photographer? Do you think that the feminine look brings a special touch to photography?
Photography, literature, medicine, music, economics, etc., without women it's not photography, nor is it literature, nor is it something similar to it: it is a biased and macho version of it all. The "feminine" look does not "bring" a "special" touch, but it is necessary for the photography.
I think we should not talk about the role of women in front of a camera (did we really have a role?). But we should think about the role that men and heterosexuality have played in the representation of women and, therefore, in what we understand as a woman. I'm not sure if there is a feminine look or not. How is that look? Which look do we choose to be THE Look among the different looks of women? And what makes us women? For example, I do not think I'm representing the woman in my photos... I simply show my world and the one of my friends.
What goal do you want to achieve with your work?
The truth is that I do not usually think that big, I prefer to thing project by project. I wonder more about the reason rather than "what for". With the first project, Vorhandenheit, I just wanted to clarify my ideas and approach my father because I felt lost. The MAN DA RI NA project appeared in a completely natural way. The PETRARCA, with Maider Jiménez, was born on purely economic basis, but at the end it has become a personal project, from which I want to get LGBTQ+ more involved in the commercial photographic world and I still have no money. And UHF (with Ángela Losa, Carol Caicedo, Julie Delabarre and Vera Martín) is just created because we feel the need for a support network among female photographers.