Laurie Freitag is a self-taught digital photographer whose primary interest is to both document and evoke an early childhood state of wonder, especially with regards to the miracles of nature. Her central themes of family, memory and the magic of the garden have resonated from her upbringing in the boroughs of New York City to the trees in her yard in the hills of her Los Angeles home. With a background that includes both broadcast news and extensive experience in professional child care, her intuitive work — often made on iPhones — combines both the overall fascination with her theme and the total openness to the inspiration of spontaneous circumstances.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
LAURIE FREITAG: I never thought of myself as an artist until maybe 2014 when a friend suggested I submit work to the Los Angeles Art Association open membership. Up to that point I kept my work to myself and I dared not share it for fear of rejection. It felt really good to share the work and get some positive response. The more response I got, the more confident I became.
I was always obsessed with shooting everything around me and had been doing that for a long time. When I was a child I would ask for a camera and ten rolls of film for every holiday or birthday. Sadly I never got it until I left home at 18 and bought myself a Nikkormat.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I am basically a self-made person. I like to discover things in my own time and in my own way. My inspiration is organic and I trust my intuition implicitly. There is something inside me that says, ‘Click now!’ and I just follow that directive.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I have been working on two projects. One is called The Lost Years. As a nanny for over ten years I have had intimate access to children and I have been lucky to work with a family that allows me to document their lives. The Lost Years documents the time before the age of seven, the time most of us cannot remember.
The other project was born out of the stay-at-home orders for Covid in 2020. By spending time at home in the garden of the family’s new house in the Los Feliz hills, the 4-year old that would ordinarily be in pre-school part-time was now with me full-time, and we had a lot of time to delve into nature. In the Garden at Chislehurst was born while sitting next to the 4-year old playing in the dirt. I looked up from our spot to find the most gorgeous dracaena trees. This series caught the eye of Susan Spiritus and I have been lucky to have her represent it. Some of The Lost Years work was recently named to YourDailyPhotograph.com Hot 100 of 2021.
Oh, and I also run L.A. Photo Curator and N.Y. Photo Curator. Both are platforms to promote fine art photographers through competitions four times a year with 20% of competition entry fees going to charity. Those are ongoing projects I have run since 2015. It’s been really a joy to meet so many artists from around the world.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
That would have to be Stanley Tretick, whose photograph of John F. Kennedy Jr. (John-John) under JFK’s desk in the White House really called to me. I was seven years old when that iconic photograph was taken, only four years older than John-John. Jackie Kennedy didn’t like her children photographed and was in fact, out of the country, when Tretick photographed the child.