Laura Partain

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Laura and I have been in and around the same circles of people for a while and even admired one another's work from afar but until meeting for her Project 104 entry she and I hadn't spent any time together. I don't think that it's a stretch to say that we hit it off. Both creatively and and personally we have similar passions and convictions and it was very cool to see how they have manifested in our own individual lives. 

We intentionally started our day early with a coffee meet up and a conversation that spanned several hours before Project 104 was ever discussed. It was a cold and rainy day and that made it all the easier to sip coffee and pretend that the Nashville gray skies were actually those of the the Pacific Northwest. 

We watched the rain and looked for a break to go shoot. We had to eventually just decide to shoot in it and we headed to a favorite secret spot and Laura disclosed in confidence. (I may shoot there again, Laura. ;)  ) Once we arrived we had a look around and scouted for a bit. As the rain picked up again we headed back to my jeep.

I set my phone on the dash to record and we listened to the ping of the water hitting the thin metal top of my Cherokee as we went though the project questions. The cold rain persisted and we just went for it regardless and I shot until I could no longer feel my fingers. 

By the end of it all, I was left no less than inspired. Not only at the creativity and artistry of my friend, and least of all her commitment and persistence to her passion and craft, but I was also left inspired by the human-being that she is. I of course related to what she had to say on a very immediate level, being that she and I are people-focused photographers, but her message is one that we may all learn and be inspired by. 

You can view a part of that message below in what she had to say to the questions, as well as see some of the cold and rainy images. I would also encourage you to go through Laura's work, as it is the substance of a passionate individual in love with their art. 

Love Aimlessly, My Friends


What gets you out of bed every day?

Really just this drive that I've build in over the years of doing photography. To get up and work rain or shine. The drive to go do shoots, make new work, develop film, scan film, edit... Just the continuation of the habit I've formed after almost a decade of photography. I just to get up and do it. It's a good thing because I love what I do. Whether it's good times or bad times I have to get up and work. It's instinctual at this point. 


To date, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Oh my gosh! Heavy question! As cheesy as it sounds it's to never give up!

Even if it seems like it's the easiest thing to do. Even if people aren't being responsive to your work... Even if you're getting told 'no' and if you've lost work. Even if all the shit is hitting the fan and it feels like the easiest thing to do would be to go and get a different job and do something else... That's not the answer. You can't give up! You have to be stubborn and hard-headed every day and know that nothing is promised to be easy if you're doing something that you love. You just have to get up and do your thing and work through all the bullshit. You just have to! 

I've been photographing since I was 17 years old and am almost 27 now. So almost 10 years. Even from the get-go, when I decided I wanted to become a photographer It wasn't easy. My parents didn't support my decision and I had to constantly motivate myself to produce the work that I wanted. I didn't really feel that I had a lot of emotional support. I had to figure it out. I had to tell myself that it was on my shoulders. I was the one that needed to get internships and push for building a community of photographers around me. I have to seek out the work and learn. 

Even since moving to Nashville 5 years ago, I've lost two studios, I've had to move multiple times and have been in an ebb and flow of making money and being broke. Not having enough money to fix cameras, loosing shoots... It can be tough. That stuff will wear on you but you can't quit.

You have to be resilient. You have to be tough and you have to push forward every day. You can't wait for someone to pat you on the back or for a shoot to come though that boosts your ego again. You have to get up every day, be persistent though the highs and lows, make new work and put it in your portfolio. Just work hard every day to make the best work you can. 

The reality is that if you're dong anything creative or dangerous there are risks involved. Physical risks, emotional risks, social risks and you have to be ready for all of that. You have to give yourself grace too when you need it. It's okay to acknowledge that things are difficult and challenging. Personally, things feel difficult for me right now, but it's my responsibility to continue to self-reflect, critique my work, ask myself how I can improve and push forward. I believe that I ultimately have control over me becoming a better artist. I'll always strive to improve but also know that it's okay when things don't go as well as you'd hoped. It's art. It's never going to be perfect. 


What is love?

I mean... do I get free chocolate out of it? haha! Just kidding! That's terrible. 

Love is funny... It's amazing that we can be as complex as we are as human-beings. It's crazy how your brain and your hormones can create theses different sensations of happiness and anger and love in all the ways that love can manifest.

I think I have a way that I can talk about love... When I was a teenager,  I was trying to figure out wether I wanted to pursue music or photography as a living. I just didn't know what to do. Like most teenagers (and I guess I still do this) I had crushes on a few different people and was hanging out with a few different guys and thinking "do I like this person or this person?" "Do I want to marry this person?" "I don't know!" (I still don't know) but my love for photography and music was real. 

Not that anyone should expect your love-life to work out when you're 18 years old, but I guess I just felt that the whole dating scene was frustrating and also wasting my creative energy. I decided that I was going to pick music or photography and spend my life focusing on it. I would put all of my heart, soul and energy into it. 

While I was in college, I was in the dark-room and had this moment; I was trying to figure out which (music or photography) to put all my focus on. I'd been trying to focus on both and I didn't feel like it was working. I didn't need to be excellent at both. I just needed to be excellent at one.

As I was watching this print appear in the red-light of the darkroom I had this jolt of lighting run through me and I knew that this was what I was supposed to do. I knew that I had to stop putting my energy into things that didn't matter. To not be obsessive about things that I couldn't control when I cold put so much energy into something that really mattered to me. Into photography.  

I guess when I think about "What is love" I kind of think about my commitment to photography. I know that they're different, but when I made that commitment I knew that it wasn't a passing thing. It wasn't something that I was going to be bored with in a month or give up for something else. When you commit to something you have to do so knowing that you'll have some shitty times. There are times when I hate photography. Despite my answer for getting out of bed sometime I begrudgingly do so because sometimes I feel burnt out.

Relationships get that way. It's happens. Love is saying "I love this enough, I love this person enough to commit." That's what it is. It's a commitment. Love isn't all of the other frilly bullshit. It's a commitment to deeply caring and feeling passionate about something or someone and giving your all to that love. That's what love is to me. 

That isn't to say that I wouldn't want to cultivate that in a very real way with a person at some point. It is something that I'd like as well. So specifically to answer the question, love is purely a commitment... and I think it's kick-ass! 


About Laura : Laura is a very talented music and portrait photographer. You can view her work here: www.laurapartain.com


Lives: Nashville, TN

From:  Southern Illinois