Today I’m thrilled to bring all of you an interview I did with the ever so talented Leslie Williamson. I’ve known Leslie for quite a few years and I’m always in awe of what she does – the way she works, her beautiful photographs, and her lovely personality. When Leslie set out on her journey to start photographing her second book, Handcrafted Modern Europe, I jumped for joy – her first book, Handcrafted Modern is one of my favorite coffee table books.
When I found out that Leslie had started a Kickstarter program to raise money to help fund the end of this second books journey, I immediately started brainstorming ways to help Leslie achieve her $41,000 goal. She’s only $11,000 dollars away and has two weeks left to raise the money. I reached out to Leslie about sharing a sneak peek and interview with all of you to share the news about this book. If you don’t know Leslie, I promise you’ll be in love with her photography and her books by the end of this interview.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a photographer? Did you have an aha moment? I actually did not have an Aha moment at all…it was really an evolution. I was always doing something artistic in school – flute, dance, graphic design…Out of High school I went to art school and majored in Fashion Design which was my plan since I was about 8 years old (a very odd career choice at the time…). But I quickly realized I had no patience for drawing. So I decided I would be a photographer “because it was quicker.” I always laugh about this one, because it is not quicker at all, but something about photography suited me and it stuck. and here I am…
When you walk into a home you’re going to photograph what do you look for first? I usually ask for a little tour of the house. That is the best way to start because people always share interesting things about their own house. There are always objects/areas that speak to me – little sections of a bookcase or a chair, it can be anything really – so I’ll ask about them. And I am always looking at the light, where it is nicest, how the house is oriented so I can figure out how the light will move during the day and I will move through the house to shoot it in the best possible way.
Did you always dream of photographing and writing a book or books? Actually, I never ever thought that I would write a book in a million years. I only wrote for myself before Handcrafted Modern. I always knew that I would publish books of my photographs, but the writing still surprises me. I really love it though.
Your photography has so much meaning behind it – I’m always in awe of the beauty. What kind of camera do you use? Do you have a secret you can share? Thanks so much for that! Those kind of things – meaning and beauty -are really about the way I see things and somehow it translates into the image. So my cameras – I have been using a Mamiya RZ67 for years and continue to – are really just tools. No matter what camera I shoot with, there is always an underlying emotional quality to my work. At least I hope there is, and that is one of those things I am really grateful for, but I don’t know that I can explain it. So I’m not sure I have any particular tips…
Tell us the story behind these images? The images here are a preview from four of the houses in my upcoming book Handcrafted Modern Europe. Alvar Aalto, Finn Juhl, Bruno Mathsson and Gae Aulenti. Alvar Aalto, a Finnish architect and designer, and Finn Juhl, a Danish furniture designer – both of these homes are museums now and wonderfully intact. The Bruno Mathsson house is not open to the public, so being there was special even though he passed away awhile ago. It still has everything in there. Italian architect and designer Gae Aulenti was still living in this apartment when I shot. Sadly she passed away about a month after I was there. So the images of her space are very special.
I’m so proud of what you’ve done thus far. Tell us about the Kickstarter program you started in order to finish your second book! Yes, the Kickstarter…I am in the middle of raising funds to finish Handcrafted Modern Europe. So many don’t realize that projects like this – all original photography, the travel involved, etc. – are really expensive to produce. So I need help to finish it up! The Kickstarter will help fund mainly the travel expenses and the post production costs. Plus documenting these homes in detail is so important! The books are the vehicle for me to show them to as many people as possible, but I see my work as very long term. This is my life’s work. I am building a library of images documenting these homes of designers and architects – to see how they live with their own work – and when I am finished on this earth, I hope the images will be there for other generations to see and learn how these amazing people lived.
If you live in San Francisco, join Leslie for a special in-depth slideshow presentation to showcase even more photos from her upcoming book. You’ll see inside the homes of notable architects and designers in Europe including Alvar, Aalto, Finn Juhl, Bruno Mathsson and more. It is one night only at Heath Ceramics in the Mission.
Thursday, March 7, 2013 7 – 9 pm Slideshow begins at 7:30pm Heath Ceramics 2900 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
A HUGE thank you to Leslie for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope to see some of you Thursday, but if you can’t make it be sure to pop over to purchase an advance signed copy of her book.
Photos by Leslie Williamson