Laura Antonia Abbott Embraces Her Unique Point Of View To Masterfully Combine Photography And Poetry
“As a child, I was never into Disney or fictitious stories, I always preferred true stories about real situations and people,” poet and photographer Laura Antonia Abbott tells What We Seee. “When I reflect on it, I think it was that absence of indulging in others’ imagination that now inspires me to create my own original images with an otherworldly feel.”
‘Otherworldly’ certainly is the right word to describe it. The first thing that hits you when you view Abbott’s striking work is the feeling of the surreal and fantastical — sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, but always pointing toward the unknown.
Along with imagination, there’s a curiosity and a playfulness that runs through her work. And the more you learn about her inspiration and the sheer joy she takes in photography, the more the picture starts to come together.
“The works of Henri Cartier Bresson and the wonderful discovery of ‘The Decisive Moment’, Guy Bordin’s mesmerising fashion imagery and Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled Film Stills’ opened doors to a new world that I couldn’t wait to discover,” she explains. “I fell in love with the sheer magic of shooting with film; carefully composing frames, going into the unknown, the thrill and anticipation of what had been captured on that roll of film and not knowing what it would be until it was processed in the darkroom. That’s where it all began for me, and from there I began to explore styles, expanding my ideas in new ways and mixing mediums.”
But, perhaps most excitingly, it’s her mixed loves of poetry and photography that allow her to create vivid, emotive images that dare you to be swept away.
Turning Pages Of A Book
While some artists have multiple interests that pull them in conflicting directions, Abbott’s passions developed organically and, as she explored them, she found how they could help shape and expand on one another.
“I’ve always been a visual person, seeing the world primarily through images,” she explains. “However, poetry became this coded language and form of expression which excited me. I used it initially as a form of meditation to channel my thoughts and frustrations onto paper. It allowed me to clear my mind by writing down my emotions and locking them away so I could forget and move on. But over time, I realised the lines of poetry only came out through imagining the situation like a silent film in my mind. A sequence of images would play in my head, like slowly turning pages of a picture book. This helped me to construct more descriptive and imaginative words to the poem. I began to use these visions as creative cues in my photography. I suppose it’s not every day you get to see a visual representation of what a poet was thinking!”
“Breathe on me, sweet lover’s breath
unspoken words of gentleness,
ignite the sparks of wild fires,
simmering the sighs of Jealous foe.”
– Laura Antonia Abbott
With themes of love, motherhood, safety, literature, and slumber running through her work, she manages to touch on so much of the human condition. But through her unusual eye, she takes these universal themes and puts a spin on them that’s all of her own.
Look At The World Differently
With her approach to photography being so singular and unique to her, it’s perhaps not surprising to learn that she has a different way of looking at the world around her — one that she’s learned to embrace.
“A challenge has been people’s lack of understanding of dyslexia, I am dyslexic and people’s reactions to some of the classic ‘mistakes’ I make knocked my confidence for many years but now I realise that it can be an advantage, I look at the world differently which I hope adds to the original flair of my work,” she explains.
In addition to accepting and even celebrating her point of view, she’s also found a way to integrate her creativity and imagination into her life, by giving them a chance to blossom every day.
“I always start the morning with a swim or jog, it’s one of my favourite parts of the day,” she says. “Time to myself where I can reflect on my work and let my imagination run wild. What I do next depends what stage I am in a project or commission, be it researching a theme, making props, scouting locations, shooting or editing. When the kids are back from school, I spend my time with them — and once they’re in bed I often return to my work again.”
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
As a photographer who has had to fight to find time to explore her passions, she knows that experimentation and mistakes are part of the game. In fact, she encourages them in younger photographers.
“You have nothing to lose, only gain. Make sure you get out of your comfort zone as much as possible, get out there and be proactive,” Abbott says. “Explore, experiment and learn from your mistakes. I
also think it’s highly beneficial to get in touch with the photographers you admire, offer to volunteer and assist so you can learn through them. Lastly, create your own identity and a body of work that feels completely personal to you. It is important to stay true to yourself and develop a unique style which defines you, don’t take the easy option, take a chance. You will be thankful when you reach your goals.”
She clearly has an identity all of her own — and it’s one that continues to delight and to flourish.
You can find out more about Laura Antonia Abbott and her work on her Instagram page.