Q&A: Sam Laughlin — (Slow Time / A Certain Movement)

09.02.20

Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? To live slowly, be attentive to my surroundings, notice things. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Inaction on mass extinction and climate change. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Fossil fuel subsidies seem like they must be some sort of conspiracy, I mean, they’re so stupid that why we continue with them is beyond me. It must be because some people are making an awful lot of money. What is it that interests you about photography? The transformative element of it – I’m interested in representation because I’m interested in the world, but I embrace the fact that the act of photographing can create something entirely new, abstracted from the initial reality. Also slowness, time, duration – how a picture can be more than a moment captured. What is the worst thing about city life? The lack of wildlife, and people’s general indifference in the face of it. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Those with the most intact ecosystems. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? I suppose reincarnation – by that I mean I believe it exists in the sense that if we are buried, then the matter, nutrients, and energy in our bodies will become part of other organisms. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? I think I’d prefer to align myself with the leaders of today and tomorrow, so Greta. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Behavioral Ecology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? You know I can’t actually remember, I decided a long time ago to carry one with me whenever I’m walking in an area where there is the remotest chance I might encounter something. I can tell you when I was most glad to have one with me; when I came across a juvenile Tawny Owl at the end of a day shooting and luckily had two unexposed sheets of 4×5 left.

Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Some kind of forest warden job that comes with a cabin in the woods. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. Important to me – probably a Sugimoto theatre. It was the first instance where I could see time in a picture, not an instant like Cartier-Bresson, but a duration of time distilled. How often do you take other people’s advice? It depends on who’s giving it. Describe a personal hell. A world without Wild Animals, Birds, Insects or Trees – a future we’re heading towards if we’re not careful. Which living person do you most admire? See previous question about leaders. On what occasion do you lie? To save other people’s feelings. Not always a good thing. What was the last crime you witnessed? A brawl in the street. What is the best way to educate yourself? Curiosity and reading (of course). Documentaries can be great too I must say, and the internet if used correctly. What is the next book you want to read? The Serengeti Rules by Sean B. Carroll. Ultimate camera? 4×5 with loads of lenses. Most used camera? See last question. What object do you want? A heavy-duty carbon fiber tripod. What object do you need? A heavy-duty carbon fiber tripod – walking long distances with the metal beast I have now is pretty demanding.

How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? It’s a vast computer network for communication and the storage and sharing of information. At first we’ll only use it for important things, and then we’ll fill it with cat videos and porn. It will change everything, probably not for the better. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? I can carry that tripod I mentioned, so probably yes. Describe a cheap thrill. Birdwatching – good binoculars are an initial investment, but after that it’s free, you can do it constantly, and it will change your life. Pick a historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. Probably not ‘historic’ in the normal sense, but ‘the great fall of of 1965’ (not fall as in Autumn). A fall is when weather conditions bring a sudden and enormous influx of migrating songbirds to the coasts of the UK, usually forced off their normal oversea routes by storms. During one such event in 1965 it was estimated that on one 24 mile stretch of coastline there were more than 500,000 birds, for example, one observer counted 15,000 Common Redstarts on a two-mile walk. Are impulses more important than consequences? Sometimes, though one needs to strike some kind of balance. Which talent would you most like to have? Probably self-promotion, I’m no good at it. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Walking and birdwatching with a good friend, at a place where dozens of Short Eared Owls congregate to hunt Voles on winter afternoons.

Born 1990 in Cambridge, currently living in Brighton. Sam Laughlin’s practice is concerned with a variety of forms and processes both natural and man-made. Much of his recent work focusses on natural processes and animal behaviour. Laughlin has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, including at the at the Brighton Photo Fringe 2016 where he received the Danny Wilson Memorial Award, and more recently at Jerwood Space and Impressions Gallery. In January 2017 he was awarded the Jerwood/Photoworks award to fund the production of new work. He works mainly on artistic commissions, most recently for John Hansard Gallery and Towner Gallery.

To see more of Sam Laughlin’s work visit — Website / Instagram.