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ARTIST INTERVIEW SERIES: Laura Noonan and the Changing Perspective of Photography

Laura Noonan finds enjoyment in the simplicity of moments. She lives within them, remembers them and captures them through photography.

It is this simple, minimalistic idea that can be seen in her work. But do not be fooled. The candor of her photos can also be provocative.

“We can’t go back and retake the photo,” Noonan says. “We can’t go back and change a choice, a decision that was made. And that’s what, for me, really interests me in photography.”

Out of any artistic medium, photography has arguably undergone the most significant transformation in recent times.

Since arriving in Canada from Ireland in 2014, Noonan has worked on various art projects, using photography as an artistic medium as well as to document. In 2016, she co-founded Meet Me at the Lamp(p)ost, a photography collective that focuses on street photography in and around the area of East Vancouver.

In addition, to her work in the collective, Noonan also has a significant body of work that comes from her personal interests and exploration.

“I look a lot at the idea of questioning the status quo, you know?” Noonan says. “Questioning what society’s telling us. That’s what I try to do in my work, and it motivates my art. And my general interest in it is to try to ask these questions or to present these questions in an artistic form that gets people thinking and, in turn, gets them asking their own questions.”

The main transformation in photography has been in the very material of the medium itself, a movement away from film and into digital.

“We do run into this kind of contradiction in photography, and particularly discussing photography in 2020, the medium has completely evolved from the lightbox spewing fire in that we can edit things now,” she says. “We can reprint. We can reproduce. Everybody’s a photographer now. And in a way, it’s interesting to see where that will go.”

But with everyone having access to a camera on their phones, Noonan says that professional and artistic photographers have had to adapt in order to stay relevant.

"You almost have to treat the image as if it is a painting. Because if we don’t treat the photograph like it’s this unique, irreplaceable art, no one else will. We have to champion this perspective around a photograph so that members of the public or those not necessarily versed in the art can appreciate it aesthetically.”

This perspective can be difficult to pass on to the art-viewing public, especially when everywhere we go, we are told that everyone can be a photographer.

Noonan says that this has affected photography in that no one really knows how to understand it right now.

“It’s very different taking a photo on your phone versus actually making sure of things like your lighting, your shutter speed and the contrast, having all that set up in a way that you know you’re going to be able to capture this plate of food or take this headshot to its maximum potential.”

And while photographers wrestle with the very nature of their medium, it has propelled Noonan to ask questions of herself that she would normally ask others through her art.

“I had to sit down and ask myself, ‘What is it about photography that really gets me going?’ she says. “And it’s this idea of capturing that moment that cannot be recaptured.”

Her success in photography has given her licence to explore new ways to use the medium, whether through multimedia or mixed media.

“I’m definitely at a stage where I’m trying to explore what’s next, the next phase of photography.”

By Nathan Durec


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