Best known for her band photography as seen in Your LMG (local free music magazine and gig guide), Laura is a young lady that exudes passion and professionalism. She is a hardworking, dedicated fan of both live music and photography. If there is a decent gig in town Laura McCullagh will be there. She really does seem to be everywhere, all the time, camera in hand.
The Laura McCullagh Interview:
DANI: In a few words, sum up the essence of you
LAURA: I’m a creative person who loves all things art and music-related…and stuff like cats and flowers too…
DANI: Where are you from and how did you become involved in Photography?
LAURA: I’m from Cape Town and a creative family – I started hijacking my parents’ digital camera in my early teens and became serious about photography (ie. got my own camera) at around 14.
DANI: If you had to classify your work in one or two sentences it would be:
LAURA: For the most part, I try to focus on aesthetics and mood first and foremost, so I’d like to be able to describe most of my work as pretty and/or emotionally interesting.
Laura’s ability to bring emotion through her images is uncanny. She has this extraordinary ability to capture the theatrical qualities in the mundane things of life.
DANI: Which have been your favourite shoots and why?
LAURA: Synergy 2011 was amazing, mainly because I had media accreditation and was allowed to go all over the place. That kind of freedom was incredible!
DANI: What or whom would you love to photograph if you could choose anything or anyone in the world? Why?
LAURA: Iceland – it’s just ridiculously beautiful, all of it. I would love to wander around that country with a camera. Also, the Northern Lights – though I think my heart might explode if I saw them in real life.
DANI: Where can one find your work?
DANI: What is the greatest lesson life has taught you thus far?
LAURA: Not everyone can follow their passion full-time but that’s okay, as long as you keep doing what you love and what makes you happy as much as you can…at least, that’s what I try to do.
DANI: If you could work with or for another Photographer, who would it be? And why?
LAURA: I dunno if I’d be able to handle working with/for him (the pressure, aaah), but I’d love to meet someone like Anton Corbijn…his photographic work is iconic, as are the artists he’s worked with, but aside from that he also makes music videos and films. It’s my big dream to be doing that combination too someday…
DANI: If someone made a movie of your life; Who would play the lead? What would the theme be? Would you watch it?
DANI: When I die I want the world to remember this:
LAURA: Erm well it has no bearing on my death but in general I think we forget too easily that there is actually beauty all around us, even if it gets obscured by all the bad stuff. I feel a bit like a hypocrite saying that because I’m a total cynic but deep down (and in some cases, deeper than that) I think we’re all optimists and want to be happy. You don’t have to try to always look on the bright side, but it’s good to remember that not everything sucks…making or looking at beautiful things helps with this I think.
There is a lot of negative stigma attached to the concept “Women in music.”
Groupies and girlfriends and other sorts of latchers on are now making money out of the musicians apart from bribing them and selling their secrets, through the likes of their own books and reality t.v. shows. This type of involvement of women in the music industry is destructive for those who actually ARE musicians themselves. It is very difficult for women to be taken seriously as musicians and it seems to me that it is a male dominated industry as far as instrumentation is concerned even today.
This rant was birthed from a friend’s facebook status about the lack of pants worn by Rihanna and Beyonce and Lady Gaga. It made me think about the female role in the music scene. I am very much of the opinion that women have pretty much branded themselves as sex on purpose with sales and marketing in mind. Lets face it, nobody wakes up the morning of their gig and goes
“I think ill just wear this leotard on stage because all my other clothes are in the wash.” Unlikely.
So my first point is that the lack of clothes is always a premeditated course of action. The ladies weren’t tricked into being half naked. They want to wear no clothes. Its an easy cop-out option to attract people without the talent doing the talking.
Number two: If sexy people want to wear no clothes, go for it. Its their thing. There are millions of ways to look horrendous in outfits that do include pants so I guess its just a case of people pulling off the look they’re going for. Sometimes going for “outrageous freak” works for people ala Lady Gaga and David Bowie. It should be noted though that to dress outlandishly obviously increases the chances of getting it horribly wrong ala Rihana. (I have to include that I am well bias when it comes to Rihana because I really detest her music and Nuno Bettencourt is her guitarist. Well jealous. How terrible is it that amazing musicians are making horrible music because there is more money in bad taste than good taste?! But that’s for another time.)
What is far, far worse than talentless ladies making money off of a sexy image is extraordinarily talented ladies doing the same thing.
Voices like Madonna and Cher really did not have to strip down to make it! But they did (And then some). That bleaks me out more than anything. Say what you will about them, those are two of the most phenominal and dynamic performers in the world. They sing, they act and they are legendary icons.
When is it time to stand back and let your talent do the work and not the botox? I believe in these women. I believe in their ability and clearly they don’t have as much faith in their talent as I do. Nobody wants to see Elton John in spandex or a thong. These women are just as accomplished (and just as old).
That is not to say that men don’t also exploit their sexiness to sell their music. Think of Sebastian Bach (Skidrow) and Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Billy Idol, Mick Jagger, Steve Vai… I can’t recall many iconic images of Iggy Pop in a shirt. In the music industry you are selling your image, your lifestyle, your music, your person. You are the brand. I actually enjoy the multifaceted nature of it all.
Sexiness is a whole lot more than no clothes though. It’s the way people speak. It’s in the way people move. It is also a clever tool to make oneself more appealing. Ultimately that’s what you’re aiming for I guess, to use whatever you can to get those people in that room to get into your music.
I have this idea though that all the pimping and promoting can actually undermine the music. Isn’t the real magic of music the fact that it is the music that makes you feel?
Music can make you cry, make you dance, mourn the loss, share the joy, feel the love, relate, remember, forget, call you to arms, inspire, give hope, bring destruction. It’s the music that causes you to really and truly feel. It amazes me, knocks-me-over every single time musicians do that. Every time a song stirrs up a whirlpool inside you, you are feeling what some musician has created. New artists, old forgotten songs, live bands or tapes; THAT is the beauty of music.
I seldom put on a record and lie on my bed thinking “if only Led Zeppelin had released a frangrance” or listen to Marlene Dietrich thinking “I’m sure her outfit was so 1940s.”
The branding, the image, the sexiness and the facades all fade with time. The only thing left is the music; The songs we write, the light or darkness that we speak and sing into the world. I don’t see much appeal in leaving your legacy as “that umbrella chick with no pants.”
Some points to consider:
a) Performers have been rocking that leotard look for CENTURIES! Literally. And theres a reason ballet dancers are all super scarily skinny… Its not a flattering look.
c) Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh is not a real sentence.
Lastly, it is an unforgivable thing to lump the likes of Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Ella, Janis Joplin, Tracy Chapman and hundreds of brilliant female musicians who have revolutionised the world with their amazing gifts in the same basket as Joe from the Real Housewives of Orange County or Jessica Simpson.