If you enjoy looking at contemporary interiors on the internet, then you’ve looked at a whole lot of Laure Joliet‘s photos.
Laure’s razor-sharp eye for spaces has made her a dearly coveted photographer for publications from The New York Times to Dwell to your favorite blog (probably). Attempting to roughly calculate how many of her images are on Pinterest will scramble your mind.
We were very lucky for the chance to talk with Laure about travel + photography + living in a 450 sq ft bungalow. Read on!
When did you start taking photographs, and how did you start concentrating on the places where people lived?
I got my first camera when I was 9 and loved shooting the spaces around me. Later when I was in art school, all of the work I made was about the spaces people inhabited. I loved the details, the little messes, the evidence of life. The quiet moments that could get forgotten or dismissed.
Uta Barth was one of my heroes. So was Candida Hoffer. I was also at Calarts at the same time as Zoe Crosher, I loved what she was doing at the time, shooting portraits of family in the spaces they lived in. So all of that was on my mind.
I started thinking about spaces in a more practical way and shooting house tours as more documentary veering towards editorial, it sort of opened up a whole world I hadn’t considered.
You’ve surely photographed hundreds of homes over the years. What are a few that stand out in your memory
The thing I really love about my job is that not only do I get to see some amazing houses, but that I get to meet the owners and often hear some great stories. I spend a day or an afternoon in someone’s personal space and get a peek into tons of different kinds of lives. So for me, it’s the whole experience that stands out.
When the New York Times sent me to Berlin, I was pretty excited. I got to shoot a building that functioned as a co-op that the architect couple had designed that way from the get go. I was in Berlin for 24 hours, in the midst of Fall and got to meet these incredible innovators and spend time in their home, hearing about how their dream had become a reality. Then I got to shoot it, knowing I would be helping to spread their story. That was a big moment for loving my job.
I first shot Tracy Wilkinson‘s house for the great independent zine, At Your Leisure, ran by blogger Jonathan Lo in limited edition. Tracy had this amazing bungalow in the Mt Washington neighborhood in LA and just had so much effortless style, she became one of my design heroes. When she moved, Jonathan and I came over for lunch and fell in love with this new and even more amazing house. I now have the pleasure of calling Tracy a friend and I’ve shot in this house so many times but I still discover new angles and moments because it’s just that good.
We hear you live in a 450 sq ft bungalow! What are the two biggest tips have you learned about small space living?
PUT THINGS AWAY! And you really don’t need a lot of stuff. You just need some good pieces. It doesn’t hurt if some of them do double duty!
Also, travel for work often and own a very small cat.
What do you think defines a good photograph?
This goes against everything I studied since it isn’t cerebral or technical at all. But, really, I think it’s about feelings. I think a good photograph is one that is honest. One that expands past the moment it was taken in.
What is the best place you’ve visited in the past six months?
I do get to travel a lot and I’m so grateful. And even though I’ve been to a lot of exotic locales, the Southwest United States always blows me away.
Over New Year’s, I went on a magical adventure with the design team Scout Regalia. We shot a project of theirs in Snowmass, CO (The Ranger Station!) and then we road tripped back to Los Angeles through Colorado, Utah and Arizona.
We went from snowy Aspen to the red rocks of Moab to the spiritual pinnacle of the trip: The View Hotel in Monument Valley. We tried to make it to the four corners but missed it by about 45 minutes and then, resigned, booked the View Hotel with virtually no idea how magical a place it would be once it was light again. The sun rose the next morning and we were in heaven.
Not only was Monument Valley amazing, but the View Hotel itself is an incredible building. We spent the whole day taking in Monument Valley and then made it to the Grand Canyon in time for sunset. That was probably one of my favorite days ever with some of my favorite people ever.