Interview: Louisa Seton
Luca Curci talks with Louisa Seton during the 7th Edition of ROME INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, at Medina Art Gallery.
“Louisa’s powerful indigenous portraits reflect an intimacy in her subjects that leaves one with a deep sense of nostalgia of the romantic Africa she knew from childhood. A majority of Louisa’s work retains a monochrome Fine Art studio style, reflecting her classical Fine Art training. This is evident in the clean textures and use of light that accentuates her subjects’ features and tribal adornment, translating into powerful visual storytelling. Louisa’s classic style is widely themed throughout her portrait, wildlife photography and her architectural equestrian studies.”
Luca Curci – How did you get into photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Louisa Seton – I was fortunate to be raised in Nairobi, Kenya where I was exposed to a rich tapestry of cultural diversity, that enhanced my creative expression, so I was always visually creative at school.
I went on to study Fine Art and History of Art at University. It was there that I went on to study photography. I can’t remember why I took my first professional photo but I do remember before I went to University I was living in Italy for 8 months and while I was studying the Italian language in Florence I became addicted to photography. I couldn’t put my camera down. I would get lost for hours in awe of the beauty surrounding me which was so different to the surroundings and culture I was familiar with growing up in Africa. Everywhere I looked was a photograph.
LC – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
LS – I prefer a clean shot without too much clutter so one can really “SEE” the subject and form without getting distracted. As a documentary and portrait photographer, I tend to focus entirely on my subject which is often a person. So what turns the subject into a good photo is the emotional connection the image can have with the viewer. I connect to the subject and bring out the personality or story in whatever way I feel can be translated visually, be it through facial expressions, body language, or adornment. There is so much that creates a great photo, technique, subject, and light. It depends. I focus on my subject’s eyes, facial expression, gestures and interesting adornment. Or I focus on the form, textures, and shapes that jump out to me within the image.
LC – Among the several techniques you use, which one do you prefer to practice, and which of them are most compelling for you?
LS – I shoot mainly in monochrome because I feel it’s timeless and I was classically trained to draw with charcoal and pencil. I was taught to really see light and dark, texture, and shapes. So I literally shoot RAW but have my setting in camera mostly on monochrome so I can see all the tones of light and dark within the subject then switch it to colour in my post-editing if the shot is best in colour.
LC – What do you think about art on social media? Are they turning into the new showcases of contemporary art?
LS – It’s wonderful to be seeing so much ART out there. I still love going into a physical gallery but I think social media is a great platform for exposure for so many Artists who have a better chance of getting seen by a larger audience. Are they turning into the new showcases of contemporary art? Yes, I feel it’s definitely the way it’s heading. It also gives the artist more ability and versatility to sell his/her work directly to clients rather than going through a 3rd party gallery or agent.
LC – What issues do you intend to deal with in the future?
LS – Social media is definitely challenging to keep up with. On IG images generally have to be in portrait format for reels to gain attention rather than landscape. For Still Photographers who love landscape orientation shots, it can be frustrating to keep up with ever-changing algorithms and trends for different image formats. I feel one has to sacrifice the totality of the original image size to fit the genre of whatever is trending and it takes away from the essence of the true way a photographer has captured something. I also feel that Art needs time for contemplation. Social media is fast. I love to contemplate ART, images, and the story behind an image and spend time observing the work. Social media has created a fast-paced world where attention to detail is lost when you may have only 3 seconds to view something.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
LS – A majority of my Fine Art work involves photographing indigenous communities. I’m mostly curious about the women, it’s in their strength and vitality that I see their beauty, their essence. That’s what I aim to convey in my portraits. The spirit of female empowerment and women’s use of adornment as self-expression. I feel that women are the backbone of the tribal patriarchal society in which they are born. I want to portray the women in all their nobility, as empowered and courageous women because life in these villages is not easy it revolves around family and survival. In these remote communities, far removed from the modern world there is a certain perseverance that’s needed to survive there. My purpose as a photographer is to increase understanding and awareness.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LS – I think it’s a great platform that helps artists like myself to reach a broader audience, especially in Europe.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us?
LS – Yes if I was to come to Europe I would love to collaborate further on exhibitions in the future.