I had the honor of speaking with 25-year-old Baltimore photographer, Laura Nicaise, who began her journey of visual storytelling with a toy Barbie film camera, and hasn’t looked back since. She grew up with the inspiration of both her parents being photographers and her childhood environment consisting of cameras galore.
After she developed her knowledge of film and digital in high school, she went on to build a career photographing live music and portraits. With a master’s degree in civil engineering, she shared with me her dream to combine art and sustainability in order to promote fighting against climate change.
Describe your creative process. What excites you to create? What influences your vision? What has photography taught you about yourself?
I think the uncertainty of the process IS what excites me to create. Sometimes that’s daunting and makes me not even want to start new projects, but most of the time, it’s exciting, freeing, and refreshing.
I’m not sure that I have one, angle creative process. It ranges (painting, photography, sewing, collaging, DIY-ing, etc) and changes every time I make something new.
Photography has taught me so much over the years. I remember wanting to do it since forever ago. It’s brought out all of the parts of me that are inherently “me” and has increased my confidence. It’s also taught me that life is supposed to be fun. If anything, life is fun.
Describe your biggest dream(s).
On one hand, I would love to be a photographer/creator full-time. When I daydream about my future, I imagine working for myself, making art, meeting other creatives, and being able to survive off of that. Bonus points if it’s within the music industry.
On the other hand, I would love to focus my future career on the environment. Again, bonus points if it’s within the music industry. I think it would be amazing to work on making festivals and concerts more sustainable.
There’s a lot of things I want to do in my life. A lot of them have nothing to do with each other, but I’m coming to a place in my life where I’m okay with not having one set path in front of me.
What is your relationship to fear? What is your relationship to art?
Oh boy, I can be quick to fall into the fear trap when it comes to my art and putting myself out there. The quote that’s always stuck with me is, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” I didn’t realize how much I let fear dictate my choices until I started going to therapy. I’m slowly learning to recognize fear for what it is: a feeling. It’s been a process, but I can already see changes in myself, and I’m thankful for that.
As a kid, art was my comfort. I naturally gravitated towards anything and everything creative. As an adult, sometimes fear weighs heavy, life gets busy, self-doubt gets loud. It’s like Newton’s Laws of Motion – if I don’t create anything for a while, it’s a lot harder for me to start on anything new, but the second I do, I’m back.
How do you choose to survive your bad days?
I think for me, it’s a matter of finding something to break me out of the stagnant phase of Newton’s Laws – something as little as making a Pinterest board or scrambling down all my thoughts in a note on my phone. If I can spark inspiration to get out of my head and go make art – awesome, beautiful, fabulous. If not, at least I spent a little bit of my bad day doing something that brought me joy.
If a day is especially bad, I let myself give up for the morning, the evening, or the hour. It’s taken me a really, REALLY long time to learn the importance of rest. I’m a firm believer in just forgetting about things for a bit and allowing yourself to enjoy rest. Rest isn’t effective if you spend the whole time stressing about what you “should” be doing.
Other days, I just survive, and that’s enough.
If you wrote a letter to yourself, what three things would you thank yourself for?
I would thank myself for taking the time to learn what I DON’T want out of life, not giving up on my dreams (even when I wasn’t actively pursuing them,) and going out of my comfort zone.
How have women in your life and/or in the industry inspired you?
All the time, every day, in every aspect. I’m very lucky to have such strong, accomplished women in my life. They mean the world to me, and I definitely would not have continued in this industry if it weren’t for their support. Seeing influential women get the recognition they deserve is so inspiring to me, especially in such a male-dominated industry.
I’m involved with a couple of organizations dedicated to empowering women (and non-men) in the music industry, and it’s connected me with some of the greatest people. It makes my heart so happy to help celebrate their wins.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? What advice would you give to someone just getting started?
“Perfection is the enemy of progress. Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Winston Churchill
What projects can we expect from you in the future?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I started taking self-portraits because it was the only way to safely practice and take photos. Somehow, it turned into a series of recreating my favorite portraits of Harry Styles. I love him as an artist (let’s be real, who doesn’t?) I love the way he expresses himself through clothing and photoshoots.
It’s been so fun searching for vintage and thrift pieces to recreate the looks. It’s been a great way for me to play around in photoshop, learn new techniques, and experiment with styling.
I have plans to start a sustainability-related blog soon, so keep an eye out for that too!