It’s been a while since our last Shooter Spotlight, and we’ve got a good one for you. Another set of extraordinary photos caught our attention in our Flickr group, reminding us of former interviewee and photo contest winner. Basically, the formula is this: cryptic portraits (often of self) fueled by an incredible imagination, and heavily processed in Photoshop. But Laura takes it to an entirely new level. The end result is naturally very striking. Watch out for her in our monthly photo contests, and check out the rest of her Flickr stream here, and dive in to this interview of this young and talented photographer from New York…
Name: Laura Marie Diliberto
Hometown: Wantagh, NY
Tell us about yourself:
I am a pretty ordinary person. I graduated from college last May, live at home with my family (although that will be changing soon as I’m looking to get an apartment with some friends). I work full time in New York City. I have always been more on the quiet and shy side; I prefer to do a creative or relaxing activity rather than go out to a bar. I try to keep up with my art on a daily or weekly basis, and I am lucky enough to have really wonderful people in my life.
How did you get started in photography?
I have always been really interested in different forms of art. When I was younger I loved to paint, and throughout high school and college I started to become interested in photography through taking a darkroom film classes. While I respect people that use film cameras, it is not my preferred medium and I’m very much okay with that; I think it’s important to focus on your strengths and not dwell on your weaknesses. I like to work in digital instead because it allows me to express myself more accurately and creatively. By my senior year of college I saved up enough for my first digital camera and taught myself the mechanics of a DSLR. After graduation I took graphic design courses at a local college which in turn helped spark my interest in post-production editing techniques. It is really within the last year that I’ve been able to find my voice more through digital photography. It’s been a long journey, one that I endeavor to keep learning about.
Favorite camera and lens? Why?
I currently own a Canon T1i body and a 50mm 1.4 lens. I love the 50mm 1.4 and would recommend it to anyone because of it’s low light capabilities and sharp focus. I am not crazy about my current body, though it is certainly a good DSLR. My dream camera is the 5D mkii.
I am familiar with her work and find it to be quite fascinating! Coincidentally, Maria (Masha) Sardari and I actually met at a photography workshop this Summer in New York. We clicked pretty well in terms of our conversation and interest in certain forms of photography. It wasn’t until I went home and made a Flickr account that I saw her photos and noticed we had some similarities. I admire that at a very young age she has such an extensive body of work; she shows intense dedication and is inspiring me to take up a “365” project! Sometimes I do wish that at her age I had access to all of the technology and software that teenagers now have. I got my first Dell laptop while going away to college and had no idea what Photoshop even was. It is really interesting and beautiful to see all of the talent on the internet and then realize that many of these artists are still in high school.
You’ve got some fascinating (and disturbing!) shots on Flickr. How do you get the ideas for your photos? Such as this one?
Since joining Flickr I am able to see photos from people who are incredibly talented in the field of conceptual photography. Being exposed to this made me realize that digital photography and Photoshop is like a blank canvas where almost anything you imagine can be created. In certain shots my goal is to disturb, because I find disturbing things can be quite beautiful. What I do is sketch out an idea and write down certain elements that I want incorporated into it. With this particular shot, I sketched my body pressed against a wall with my head sticking out. In post-processing it took the direction of my arms coming out as well, which wasn’t orginally planned. So I would say things are developed partially though sketches and partially on a whim.
Have you ever been criticized on some of your photos and the things they portray?
It’s interesting, I’ve had people e-mail me saying that they love the style I’m trying to aim for, while others have said that they would not consider it to be their taste, though they do respect it as art. Something I will always welcome is a dialog, whether it be good or bad, because either way it means that my work has an effect on a person. I know everyone has a different vision of art; someone can be struck with emotions while others are less sensitive or passive. I’ve also heard the argument that this type of thing is more graphic arts and not “real” photography. I’m very much interested in and open to a diverse range of opinions.
What do you use for post processing? And how much work goes into the average shot?
I use Photoshop CS5! It really depends, but I would say that thethought process behind an image can take anywhere from a few minutes to afew weeks, shooting takes anywhere from 10-20 min, and post-processing takes about 2-3 hours. The first time I edited an image in this style it took about one week and 12 hours of editing to finish. It really took a long time, but when it was over I felt like it was worth it.
If you could shoot anything, what would it be?
It might sound a bit silly, but if there was anything I could incorporate into a shoot it would be an elephant. They are one of my favorite animals and I could just picture having a model or two interacting with the elephant and incorporating some type of surreal element within the shot.
What’s your shooting style? Photographic influence?
It’s a bit hard to say at this point. I am trying to aim for the overall style of conceptual and surreal, though I do think that my work is still in its early stages. I know that it could change somewhat over the years as I continue to learn what does and does not work for me, so in a way, I am very much in a stage of discovery. My biggest influences are Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Jamie Bladridge, and Brooke Shaden. They are very dedicated to their style and are able to effectively captivate the viewer, which is what I love. I appreciate the process of creating an image rather than just taking one. These artists take you into another world, a world which they have created and are able to share with all of us.
What is the best thing about photography? Worst?
The best thing about it I believe, is that it has no limits. If you would like to photograph the world outside of you, then you are free to do so. If you prefer to create your own world, then you may do that as well. It allows you to express your innermost feelings and imagination. I wouldn’t say that there is a bad thing about photography in itself, but the modern day equipment for it can make people feel held back because of it’s cost, especially if you are trying to persue it on a professional level. Photographic gear can certainly be expensive, but I definitely don’t think that not having expensive equipment will make you less of a photographer. If someone is looking to express themselves through this medium then they should work with what they have, download GIMP, and save up for equipment in the future. Creativity is something that should be explored to it’s fullest, regardless of what you have!
What’s your most memorable shooting experience?
I had the opportunity to work with Brooke Shaden recently which was pretty amazing. Her dedication has caused me to keep pushing myself and learn as much as I can. Senior year of college I studied abroad for a few weeks in South India and really enjoyed a day that I spent with children at Ghandigram Institutes and Orphanage. I wouldn’t say very artistic photographs evolved from that day, but it was so memorable showing the kids my camera and seeing how excited they were to have their picture taken. It meant so much to see them smiling and enthusiastically posing for a shot.
What does the future hold for you?
It’s hard to say right now. I know that for my near future over the next year I would like to really push myself to produce a large body of work that expresses my current style. I have a ton of ideas in my sketchbook that I am excited to work on. I think that my work is still very much in it’s early stages, so being able to build upon it is something that I look forward to. Hopefully soon I can have some type of website presence besides Flickr where people can see my work and potentially purchase a print. In terms of my distant future, perhaps it could turn into some type of career, or perhaps it could just remain a passionate hobby. Either way though I have a feeling it will be something that will always be a part of my life.
And that’s a wrap. Be sure to check out the rest of her work here on Flickr.