How I Work: Laura Pannack

The award-winning portrait and documentary photographer talks to CR about why shooting in analogue is best, the upside of commercial projects, and offers an insight into her latest project

London-based photographer Laura Pannack has become renowned for her thoughtful portraiture and social documentary photography, where she often works to unravel the relationship between subject and photographer.

Taking on mainly research-led projects, there’s a rawness to Pannack’s images and she uses film to capture her subjects as truthfully as possible. Putting an emphasis on time, trust, and understanding, many of Pannack’s projects develop over several years. “This particular approach allows a genuine connection to exist between sitter and photographer, which in turn elucidate the intimacy of these very human exchanges,” she says in her artist’s statement.

Top: Baruch, Lumix Stories for Change. Above: The Cracker, Island Symmetries. All images © Laura Pannack

Previous projects have seen her explore what Brexit means for love, youth culture in the UK’s Black Country, and young British naturists. Her latest project, commissioned by Lumix and 1854 Media as part of the Stories for Change series, follows a young Hasidic man as he strikes out on a new path, finding a way of being Jewish outside the bounds of his former life. Titled Baruch (the name of Pannack’s subject), the images and accompanying film build on the photographer’s ongoing work with Orthodox Jewish groups and were taken in some of Israel’s most beautiful landscapes. The series is a delicate exploration of Baruch’s search for a sense of self and the emotions and experiences that come with that. “I hope it inspires others to consider a limitless life,” says Pannack.

Commercially, the photographer refines her process and captures powerful portraits for the likes of Barclays, Airbnb, Macmillan Cancer Support and the BBC. On top of this, Pannack has also won numerous awards over the years including the John Kobal Award, the Juliet Margaret Cameron Award and was also a Portrait of Britain finalist. Here the photographer discusses how photography found her, why commercial projects can actually be a good thing, and what she’s been grateful for during the pandemic.