Laura Noble: A Passion Called Photography
Laura Noble is a writer, gallery owner, artist and photography advisor. She writes for many magazines such as Foam, Image, a former Editor-at-Large for Photoicon Magazine and is also a columnist for London Independent Photography Magazine. Laura has contributed to multiple monographs, her most well known being the author of the book “The Art of Collecting Photography”. She also holds portfolio consultations, courses and conferences for photographers and collectors.
In 2009, she opened the gallery Diemar/Noble Photography. By 2010 Diemar/Noble Photography was selected to host the Prix Pictet Commission exhibiting works by Ed Kashi. In the same year, Time Out defined the gallery as “one of the capital’s top spots for photography”. In August 2012, the partnership ended, with Laura going solo to launch her own venture L A Noble Gallery. On September 19, she launched L A Noble Gallery at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam. The gallery exhibits works by both emerging and established artists and it also has an educational department that holds courses on how to prepare and present one’s portfolio, salons, courses on collecting and consults with photographers on how to get their careers on track for success in the art market. Her bespoke courses off site at offices and workplaces are also in demand for budding new collectors. Laura’s vocation for photography does not stop at the mere running of her gallery, but unfolds also through seminars, lessons, consultancies, articles in the UK and abroad. Her blog has a huge following, with honest opinions and thoughts on the art market and reflections on the philosophy of the medium.
B: Laura, you’re a writer, gallery owner, artist, photography advisor; you hold conferences and courses on photography. Is there a role, among those that I’ve mentioned, that you feel closer to or that represents you better than the others? Or each of those roles is part of you?
L: I really enjoy them all. Each role has it’s own reward and mindset. For example my excitement upon discovering new talent is a wonderful feeling, knowing that I will be part of realizing the path that an artist will take moving forward.
However, to answer your question honestly I am at my most joyous when making my own work. Painting on a canvas takes me into a completely different world where time seems to stop and I forget to sleep or even eat when working on a painting. I suppose the spiritual, quiet aspect of painting is one side of my personality that many never see but is profoundly important. As a very social person though, I do need the hectic side of life and the buzz of the art world to balance this out. I wouldn’t live in the countryside for example. The daily chaotic rhythm of the city suits me much more. My home is my castle where it is peaceful and reflective, a welcome retreat to at the end of the day, but I couldn’t give up the excitement of the role I play in the photography world for just that I would be bored in a minute!
B: As a gallery owner, what is your advice to a young photographer who wants to start a professional career?
L: 1. Look at other work. If you do not know your position in the market and what else is out there you can replicate work, miss out on discussions with curators through lack of photo history knowledge and appear arrogant to think that you are too good to consider others who came before you. 2. Good grammar! I know it sounds strange, but a well-written letter or email goes a long way. Do your research and address the person correctly. I have had many emails that begin ‘Dear Sir’. These are deleted without being read as the lack of care reflects a lot. 3. Never assume – It can be easy to miss out on a great opportunity because you do not appreciate what others have to offer. 4. Present yourself professionally. Have a good portfolio and website which showcases your best work. Sometimes it’s better to ‘kill your darlings’ than show too much online. Be concise in all your communications with everyone you deal with, promptly and in a friendly manner.
B: L A Noble Gallery is not only a venue where artists are presented through personal and collective exhibitions; it is also a place that organizes conferences and courses for collectors and photographers, a space where various connected synergies meet. Has this always been your starting idea for the Gallery?
L: Yes it has always been part of my vision. In the long run if we provide useful information to clients, photographers and budding collectors we reap the rewards - as trust is inherent to those relationships. The more informed our clients are the more seamless their experience can be, giving them confidence to venture further into the market. For example, when someone understands how editioning works they can make a decision on a print they wish to purchase more quickly if the editioning makes sense to them and concentrate on the aesthetic and conceptual ideas behind the work, enabling more interesting discussions.
B: You stress the importance of collecting. Your book “The Art of Collecting Photography” is a good example, as well as your courses and conferences on this subject. Can you give us a better idea of why collecting is so important?
L: Collectors are the patrons of the medium. (After all we would not have had art movement such as the Renaissance without generous patronage.) Attending exhibitions is nice, but to progress we must invest and purchase new work or we will be left with a very small selection of high priced photography and great emerging talent will be left behind in the market. In order to see great new work we should be investing in it. New ideas need to be supported and collectors have it in their power to be part of that.
B: With your work, you surely meet a lot of photographers every day and I’m sure you have a very clear idea of what the market is and of the trend that has been taking shape in the last years. Do you want to tell us something about it?
L: There are many trends in the market. Trends suggest something fleeting, so proceed with caution. Always buy the best of something whether it is a theme, technique or artist. The same work does appear time and time again. Buying purely for investment is a reflection of the economy at present after a period of careless over-buying before the recession. I think that there are some great works which are overlooked but will be revealed as gems in the future for those with a keen eye for the medium.
B: What is photography for you, besides being a vocation and a passion?
L: Vocation and passion covers all the bases, both being the drivers of art. I live, breathe and dream about photography….
B: What is the first thing that strikes you when you look at an image?
L: It depends on the work and if I am familiar with the artist. If not, the composition followed by the subject and quality of the work comes next. The immediacy of a work can be something that takes time with prolonged viewing, taking on different meanings and ideas as time passes. The best images resound long after they are first viewed.
B: In the previous issue of Floz, we have introduced three photographers who, through their pictures, conveyed to us their personal interpretation of social photography. Yvonne De Rosa is one of the artists, and also one of the photographers you represent. How did the two of you meet? And what were the parameters that made you decide to represent her with your Gallery?
L: We met at a book launch for another photographer and she took my portrait after I had viewed her portfolio. Her passion for her work and the quality alongside her personal connection with her subject meant we talked for a long time. As a result I wrote an essay for her first book so I really got to know both her and the work - so when I launched the gallery she was at the top of my list of artists to represent.
B: When you choose to follow an artist, do you follow pre-set rules that reflect a certain image typology or do you follow your instinct?
L: Instinct has a large role to play, with a lot of knowledge in the history of the medium to recognize their influences. There are no pre-set rules other than recognizing quality and the sincerity of the work and the photographer who made them.
B: How do you see the future of Photography?
L: It will always change as the technical elements of the medium are always in constant flux. People consume photography on screens more than ever before. We will see more artists experiment with old and new techniques, bringing the medium closer to the traditional arts as more galleries who at one time would not exhibit photography doing so. I hope that with this change the medium will continue to thrive as well it should.
B: Laura, thank you for giving us a further point of view….
L: Thanks very much for asking.
 For further details: L A Noble Gallery www.lauraannnoble.com
B.O. ©Floz Visions 2015