Meet Laura Kaczmarek, the Photographer Merging Youth Culture, Fashion and Architecture

The emerging German creative and skater illuminates how architecture influences our generation, and vice versa.

All photography provided by Laura Kaczmarek.

Although German photographer Laura Kaczmarek‘s work is too diverse to pin down to one style or vibe, one red thread ties it all together: meticulousness. Whether she’s shooting boys putting out cigarettes on their tongues or skaters disappearing into grandiose city landscapes, each one of her photographs communicates deep consideration and precision for lighting, emotion or style. This precision partially stems from her training as an architectural photographer: according to Laura, she sees photography graphically—always looking for lines, angles and urban juxtapositions to mesh with her subjects. Perhaps this quality led to her quickly ascending reputation as a dynamic fashion and skate photographer: over the past few years, she’s gathered a portfolio of clients like C-Heads, Fucking Young, adidas Originals, Blonde Magazine, Bricks Magazine, Indie Mag and many others.

A skater herself, Laura spends most of her days varying between documenting the street mentality of skate culture and integrating it into her fashion editorials. We decided to catch up with her about her most challenging and embarrassing photography moments, the connection between skate and fashion and how architecture influences her work.

Europe Co. for Place Skateboard Culture.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Laura. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Laura Kaczmarek: My name’s Laura and I’m from Essen, Germany. I’m a photographer working on a mix of fashion, youth culture and skateboarding.

How has your photographic style developed from the moment you started until now?

When starting with photography, everything is so new and you test out many options; you try things that aren’t even possible, photoshop-wise, etc. After completing my photography apprenticeship, I didn’t know what to do with photography, so I decided to study it. During my studies, I first understood what photography meant; what made it what it is and what interests me about it. I was being pushed by training staff who actually saw something in my photography, unlike in my apprenticeship where everything had to be technically correct and you couldn’t overexpose even by a tiny bit. For about a year now I’ve known what I want and what sort of photography appeals to me. I’ve found my style—but who knows how long that will actually last.

Martin for Indie Mag.

What’s your most embarrassing photography moment?

Everything I made between 2013 until the beginning of 2016 (chuckles).

How does being trained as an ‘architectural photographer’ influence your work? 

It really does influence my work. I am always thinking very graphically and work a lot with lines. Most of the time I realize that retrospectively, or people point it out to me—especially when it’s about skateboarding. Also, I focus a lot on the environment around me. When I am photographing fashion series for myself, I start by finding an interesting location in the city and thinking of a concept for it. That is definitely entrenched in my head because of my apprenticeship.

You do both fashion and skate photography. What are the pro’s and con’s of each?

There is a difference between fashion and skateboarding photography. When you shoot skateboarding, you don’t know if you’ll take a good photo because the boys you’re shooting could be moody or give up too soon. I prefer taking portraits of the scene; they’re full of character, strong and true.

I think that shooting fashion is a little bit easier. The models know what they have to do. You always know you’ll take some good shoots and you’re always on the safe side. I prefer taking truly visual imagery and don’t like staging too much. I don’t like exaggerated poses or situations.

Analog or digital, and why?

60/40. For each shoot – whether I’m shooting portraits, skateboarding or just going out – I always have an analog camera with me. For campaigns or other jobs where it really matters, I stick to the safe side and photograph everything digital—except, of course, if analog is asked for. Nevertheless, analog is more precious to me, more detailed; I think a lot more with analog and imagine in my head what the photograph could look like.

Sophia Frisen for Bricks Magazine.

You’re also a skater. What lessons from the skate world do you apply to photography?

I just went ahead and started shooting photos, much like you get on your first skateboard without really having a clue what you’re doing. That’s exactly how it was with my photography, at least initially. I had no idea how anything worked and just did it – just like with skateboarding. But at some point, things progress and you start dealing with questions like, “What’s behind all this?”

Which photographers are you obsessed with these days?

I think this changes over and over again, but right now, I like the work of Harley Weir, Maxime Imbert and Joost Vandebrug.

What was your most challenging shoot to date and how did you overcome the challenge?

I would say that was in March 2016 for C&A (Clockhouse). I was supposed to photograph the summer campaign outside on a racecourse for horses, but suddenly, it started to snow and it wouldn’t melt off the ground. Everyone was shivering; the models were wearing hot pants and short tops at 0 degrees. The client paid for a certain look and of course paid me, so I was stressed. On the surface, however, I stayed very calm and said I’d make it look like California afterwards, no worries. But internally, I was inconceivably nervous and had no clue if I could make it work. In the end, everything worked out and looking at the photos, you’d think it was a fine, summer day.

Where do you want to be in five years?

I try to follow my passion and do the things I love. I simply want to continue taking photos and skating to the end of my life.

What’s the best piece of advice about photography you’ve received?

Shoot more in color.

Thanks, Laura.