Please explain what just happened.

I made homemade fries tossed with truffle salt and truffle oil.Now I need to go work out. Again.

What is your earliest memory?

Drinking a bunch of water from the garden hose and then jumping up and down to hear it slosh around inside.

If you weren’t a photographer, what other profession would you choose?

Maybe a chef, or a designer… I could have a website called “fixmybaddesign.com” and people could send in their files and pay by PayPal and I could….Wait, never-mind.That would be horrible.Okay, a chef then.

Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

Leftovers from whatever I cooked last, lots of veggies, too many salad dressings that I try once and forget about, fizzy water.

What verb best describes you?


What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

I’d tell myself to dream bigger.And oh my god, definitely do not let that woman cut my hair short in middle school.Man was that a mistake.What were you thinking, me?

What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

A little time away from the situation.Perspective.

Define “success.”

Living up to your potential in as many areas as you can.Being able to do what you love and make a living at it.

From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

Anyone who is passionate about what they do and is going at it full force…whatever it is.If you’re the most amazing tugboat captain, or chef, or pilot, or you totally rock at making prosthetics…that’s the kind of inspiration I love the most.

What change do you want to be in the world?

I want to show people that they are more powerful, more beautiful, and more in control of their lives than they feel that they are.

Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.

Pro.I’m all for a good sentence describing my feelings in delicious, flowery detail, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for K.

How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

1.My friend Storm Large was in Rid of Me with Theresa Russell who was in Wild Things with Kevin Bacon.

2.My friend Jake Jacobs was in Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge with John Walter Davis who was in Quicksilver with Kevin Bacon.

3.When I worked at Rogers & Cowan PR in Beverly Hills, I accidentally made Michael Keaton hold for more than 5 minutes (he just said “Michael” and I didn’t want to ask “Michael who?”)…Michael Keaton was in The Good Cop with Benjamin Bratt who was in the The River Wild with Kevin Bacon.

4.I worked as an assistant art director on a Yo-Yo music video in the early 1990s.Ice Cube was on set, wearing a jacket that said “Fuck you Ice Cube” on the back of it.Ice Cube was in Boyz n the Hood with Cuba Gooding Jr. who was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.

Obviously, I could go on.But I won’t.

What makes you feel most guilty?

Hurting others.Not putting energy into the things I love.

Please list three things you never leave home without.

My phone, something to take a photo with (even if it’s just my phone), and a credit card.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“You’re really smart…you should be a lawyer.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

That you should pursue doing that thing that scares you the most.I got this advice before I decided to go to art school (shudder) and I try to pass it along often.

What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

Any kind.Betrayal sucks.

Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

I’ve never felt any desire to be on a game show, but when I was little I’d occasionally watch The Newlywed Game and wonder how I’d do on that show with my future spouse.As I grew up and started dating, occasionally a thought would pop into my head like “Is this the kind of guy who would know which leg I shaved first?”

What do you want to know?

Whenever I get to a place where I need to know something, I look it up, or ask someone, or look inside myself, or whatever needs to happen for me to feel satisfied that I have learned what I need to know for that moment.I feel pretty good about what I know right now.

What would you like your last words to be?

I would like my last words to be “I love you.”

Please explain what will happen.

I will go to the studio and work, and then have dinner tonight with some good friends.

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The magnetic images of photographer LAURA DOMELA have graced the pages of Rolling Stone, Paste, LensCulture, The Walrus, and Holland Herald and have landed her the covers of Brass and Outreach magazines. Her bold, captivating portraits include subjects as diverse as indie folk rock band Blitzen Trapper, Rock Star: Supernova's Storm Large, evangelist Luis Palau, 80's pop band Animotion, and musician Gino Vannelli.

With a number of artists already in the family (Laura's grandfather worked for Paramount Pictures and painted the Paramount logo used until the late '60s), Laura grew up with a strong passion for visual art. Moving from her native Anchorage, Alaska, to Southern California at the age of five, she also became acutely aware of cultural diversity and her surroundings, developing her keen eye and her unwavering desire to honestly capture the beauty of the moment and her subjects. Laura's initial exposure to photography came in high school. Though it remained a fringe interest, Laura obtained work alongside her friends in the film industry shooting 35mm and medium format film of friends, musicians, dancers, and models.

After receiving her BFA from the Oregon College of Art & Craft in painting and drawing, Laura dove headlong into the world of fine art, receiving successful gallery representation and an impressive list of exhibitions. After a few years she left the world of painting and returned to photography. “As much as I loved the smell of turpentine and linseed oil, I missed working with people,” she explains. The advent of digital photography gave Laura an opportunity to meld her painting skills with her ardor for photography. “I love that I can process photographs in my studio now with my computer --- thinking like a painter.”

Technology doesn't control Laura's work, however. “For me, being able to master technical aspects is the easiest part of photography. Knowing how to make my subject comfortable enough with me that I can create the portrait I want…that's what I will never stop studying.”

In addition to extensive magazine and review credits, Laura has a number of photography books in publication --- among them The Neon Boneyard, a series taken at Young Electric Sign Company's Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas, Fietsen, a series of shots of cyclists taken from a third-floor window in Amsterdam, and Storm Large, a work surrounding the eponymous singer and Rock Star: Supernova contestant.

An experimental and emotional project for Laura was the 2008 book Everyone My Brother Knows in Girdwood, Alaska. “This was a personal project that I did as a portrait of my somewhat eccentric brother...he's always known a very broad range of people, and I thought it would be interesting to create a portrait of him by photographing everyone he knows in the small town where he lives.”

Laura continues to create raw, evocative images, be it portraiture, fashion and beauty, aerials, or landscapes. Laura's latest project has her travelling from her current home of Portland, Oregon to New York --- what began as an exhibition for the Portland Museum, Marked: The Art of Tattoo, has expanded into a book concerning the art of ink and its human canvases.

14 responses to “21 Questions with Laura Domela”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    Welcome Laura! So very jealous of the photos, as well you know. A constant complaint of mine is that TNB is constantly adding to my book list – I think I’ve got another four or five to add to it now.

  2. Laura! I love this and I love your beautiful work. I’m so glad to see you on these pages. I Can’t wait to see your new Art of Tattoo book, do you have any idea when it’s coming out?

    Oh, and be careful, there has been talk of kidnapping you and making you the TNB photographer.

    Thanks for hanging out with us, Lady.

  3. Laura Domela says:

    Thanks Simon and Megan! I’m happy to be here!

    Ooooh…kidnapping?? Sounds scary!!

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Really, they look harmless but don’t be fooled! They’ll seduce you with their charms and shanghai you just when you’re getting comfortable! Then they’ll make you their slave, which oddly, you’ll enjoy quite a lot.

      Love to see you here, Laura! Also, love to see all the freakin’ awesome photos, most of which I’ve seen but am always amazed anew.

  4. Slade Ham says:

    Who doesn’t love the sound of lots of sloshing water inside? That seemed so cool to me as a kid as well, and somehow never lost its charm. And we are kidnapping you now. It’s official. I need new headshots.

    Upside? You get a lightsaber. Great interview, Laura.

    • Laura Domela says:

      Yeah, I just did that water thing again the other day….it’s still fun.

      Thanks so much! (And just let me know…I could rock your headshots!)

  5. Judy Prince says:

    Love the beautiful, weird, gorjus photos, Laura. You *do* wonderfully accomplish your aim to get the subject comfortable enough with you so that you can create the photograph you want. Thanks for the upbeat philosophy; I especially liked your advice: “…you should pursue doing that thing that scares you the most.” And that you secretly love the most, I’m thinking, too. All the best in your pursuits!

    • Laura Domela says:

      Thanks very much Judy! Definitely the fear is there because of the love…I always interpreted that advice to be more like “do the thing you’re most terrified of failing at…”

      • Judy Prince says:

        Oh you wise one, Laura: “Do the thing you’re most terrified of failing at…”! YES. Because it’s the thing your very heartblood and sensitive soul wants to succeed; therefore, your terror at having it fail. Here’s a quote from Marilyn Monroe: “Ever notice how ‘What the hell’ is always the right answer?”

  6. Ben Loory says:

    god, your first memory made me laugh so hard! i’d totally forgot about doing that, and i did it all the time! hell, i’d go and do it right now if i had access to a garden hose.

    i mean i guess i could do it with the kitchen faucet and a glass, but that hardly seems the same.

    the people in your pictures all seem so real and at ease. they make me happy. that’s not very common. 🙂

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