An Interview with Laura Florence Upton

I continue to chat with other photographers in the area. This week, it was a pleasure to talk to Laura Florence Upton.  Canadian photographer said she has “been working  as a freelance photographer and artist (as well as holding down many other “real” jobs) since I graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts Photography in 1999. ”

What is the story behind this picture you chose to share with us? How and when did you make it?

One of the things I really enjoy when photographing is utilising composition and angles to give an artistic quality to my photographs. This image was taken in Australia and I was actually photographing a pair of sleeping koalas high in the canopy when this butterfly stopped to rest in front of me. It was only still for a few seconds, but after some quick adjustments to my camera, I managed to capture that fleeting moment in time. This is one of my favourite images because of it’s simplicity – I love how the shallow depth of field, dappled light and compositional lines create a visual path towards the subject.

How and when did you start photography?

My interest in photography started 20 years ago during high school when, at a yearbook staff training course, I was shown how to develop film and print in the darkroom. I was absolutely in love with the magic that happened inside the darkroom and immediately went out and bought my first manual SLR 35mm film camera and ended up studying photography at university.

How would you describe your relationship with photograhy at this point in your life?

Photography has meant a lot of different things throughout my life because photography itself has changed so much since I bought my first camera back in 1993. My early love for photography was due to the suspense of developing film and the magic of the darkroom. For years I preferred to use traditional processes and stayed away from automatic cameras and printing labs. When digital cameras were first introduced, I was extremely hesitant about “going digital” because it meant abandoning the techniques needed for film and darkroom – it felt like cheating. It took a few years to come around to the idea of using a camera that had the option of automatic exposure, automatic focus, a build-in light meter, build-in flash, LCD screen, and no film to develop, but once I bought my first professional digital SLR my love affair with the darkroom ended and a new one began. Now I enjoy the freedom of being able to experiment without worrying about “wasting” film or making mistakes. Each film exposure used to be so precious and pain-stakingly calculated to ensure the perfect image and now I can snap away without any cost or stresses about a poor exposure choice. More than anything else, photography has now become a way to document how I see the world. And I suppose in a way my work has turned into a sort of archive of my experiences.

What keeps you going in terms of shooting?

I’m probably like most artists, I have days/weeks/months where I’m frustrated with my creativity and focus on other things, like paying the bills, but here in Costa Rica, all I need is to go for a walk with my camera to get me excited about photography again. I see the world more clearly through the viewfinder. I know that sounds silly, but when I’m holding my camera, I make an effort to really see what I’m looking at. It’s so easy just to walk past an exotic plant and think, “cool, neat plant”, but if I’m looking though the lens I always see so much more – the light, the angles, the textures, the different compositions I can make – it’s so much more fulfilling. I really enjoy taking a fairly average subject and composing the image in such a way that it becomes a piece of art. Quite often I’ll be knee-deep in mud with my camera pointed up at a mass of twigs and leaves photographing an intricate composition that the colours and light have created. Everyone around me always looks confused and doesn’t see what it is that I’m photographing. It’s something that no one else takes the time to see and that’s why it’s special to me.

What is your favorite thing to photograph while here in Nosara?

I really enjoy photographing nature and wildlife. Whether it’s animals, twisty bits of vine, or macro shots of insects, there’s so much life here in Costa Rica and limitless creative options.

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