’I learn most when I walk with a camera; about myself and the company I share. I engage. I stop mentally. I listen.’
Laura Pannack is a London-based, award-winning photographer. Renowned for her portraiture and social documentary artwork, she seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer and to challenge the viewer’s perception of her subjects. She was educated at the University of Brighton, Central Saint Martins College of Art and LCP.
Pannack’s work has been extensively exhibited throughout the UK and abroad, including at The National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, the Royal Festival Hall and the Houses of Parliament. Notable group shows include the ‘Terry O’Neill Photography Award’ group show, Humble Arts’ ’31 Women in Art Photography’ and ‘The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize’ group show in both 2009 and 2014. Her solo show, ‘A Collection’ was presented at the Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, and her acclaimed solo show was exhibited with Francesca Maffeo Gallery in October 2016.
Driven by research-led, self-initiated projects, Pannack seeks to fully understand the lives of those she captures on film in order to portray them as truthfully as possible. Perceiving “time, trust and understanding” to be the key elements to achieving this, many of her projects develop over several years, helping her achieve a genuine connection between herself and her sitter and allowing her to capture the intimacy, shared ideas and shared experiences of this relationship.
Pannack works with analogue photography and continues to shoot with a film camera on her personal projects. By using traditional methods of working from negatives, as well as shooting with polaroid, she finds beauty in the mistakes that come from working with unpredictable material.
Her work has received much acclaim and won numerous awards, among which are the John Kobal Award in 2014 for Chayla in Shul, the Best in Show award at 2010’s Foto8 with Shay, and first place with Graham (from her Anorexia Series) in the Portrait Singles at the World Photo Press Awards in the same year.
More recently, she was awarded the Getty Prestige Grant for her ongoing project, ‘Youth Without Age, Life Without Death: Chapter 1’, a photographic exploration of the fragility of life. This new body of work is concerned with themes of time, journeys and the cycle of life and death. Set in the Romanian landscape and created over the past four years it takes inspiration from a local folk tale, following the story of a young prince on his quest for eternal life. The work sensitively responds to the strong role that folklore plays within Romanian culture.
“I needed to escape, to begin an adventure in my search for meaningful answers. The country’s hazy purple evening light and untouched land allowed me to gather my thoughts. I began to think about how I could visually explore the idea of life and death, that is when I stumbled across the folk tale ‘Youth Without Age and Life Without Death’”.
Using this tale to guide her, Pannack has created a body of work which is a poetic collision of reality and fantasy. Symbols and cues are playfully introduced and encourage the viewer to embark on their own journey. The series presents a combination of still life, landscapes and portraits shot on expired film.
In addition to her own practice, Pannack lectures, critiques and teaches at universities, workshops and festivals around the world, and in 2015, judged the portrait category in World Photo Press Awards in Amsterdam.
Pannack has also been widely published, both commercially and as a photographic artist, with work appearing in The British Journal of Photography, Hotshoe International, Dazed & Confused, The Guardian Weekend, The Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Independent Review and Creative Review.
© Laura Pannack