Meet a Member: Nicolas Laborie

A few weeks ago an email landed in my inbox from our membership and website manager extraordinaire Lauren McMenemy with the subject line: Potential victims for the 26 member spotlight. My interest was piqued. 

Thankfully, Nicolas was indeed a willing victim and happy to share an insight into his creative life as a fine art photographer and more.

Tell us a bit about yourself – where are you from and what do you do?

Originally from Paris, I am Nicolas Laborie (He/Him) based in London for the last 32 years and I am a commercial and fine art photographer, filmmaker, writer and educator. 

I specialised in Wet Plate Collodion process, a 19th-century photographic process, with work exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in London and Scotland, Victoria and Albert Museum, Christie’s Auction House, The London Art Fair, Affordable Art Fairs in the UK and NYC, The Gherkin Building and at Voies Off, part of the Rencontres d`Arles photographic festival. 

Winner of the British Journal of Photography Portrait of Britain 2017 and 2020. Finalist with Honourable mention for seeingWOMEN 2020 awards and Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize.

As a commercial photographer, I have the chance to take the portraits of many talented writers, artists, musicians and other creatives. 

I also work as an educator at a school in London, teaching photography and currently writing my first novel. 

Where did your love of words come from? 

Love is all around us if we take more notice or just lend an ear. I have always been fascinated by onomatopoeia and then poetry followed. The rhythm sound of words, the metre of a poem to the narrative movements of storytelling.

At a very young age, you would have found me at the back of the class daydreaming. I started writing poetry influenced by Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud then came Emily Dickinson, William Blake and W B Yeats. My first long-form written piece came as a result of witnessing an argument between two adults which lent me the top mark – until I presented the results to my parents, who didn’t like that I took my inspiration from them. 

I continued to observe the world around me and smile every time I heard one of my favourite words: Petrichor.

What made you join 26? And how long have you been a member?

I joined 26 last year before my first writer-in-residence for the Bloomsbury Festival. I saw a great opportunity to meet writers and other talents as well as contribute to 26 projects. 

Have you been involved in any 26 projects?

Yes, I have been very fortunate to have been a writer in residence last year for the Bloomsbury Festival and asked to contribute this year again.

I also contributed to the 26 Plants project and I will be doing a talk with Alastair Creamer for 26 Wordstock at the Conway Hall Library, talking about poetry and photography from my previous book “Sentiments Deshabilles” inspired by the Language of Flowers. 

Whats your ideal scenario for writing? (A coffee shop? Quiet retreat? With or without music? What do you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind?)

Music plays an important part of my life and I have several playlists I write to, from Jazz to Classical and Soul. You can find me at the British Library in the Rare Books and Manuscripts reading room or by the water hiding with a notebook. Other times, I will be online with the London Writer Salon members during various writers’ hours.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on a historical dual-timeline gothic novel about a journal found in 2010 by a blind girl, telling the story of a photographer saved by a mermaid in 1855, set in Paris, the Isle of Wight, and Crimea.

I will also be part of a major photographic exhibition in Nottingham alongside contemporary artists including Mat Collishaw, Yinka Shonibare, Mark Dion, Sunil Gupta, and Ingrid Pollard, to name a few. This exhibition will connect with Isobel Elstob’s forthcoming book Reimag(in)ing The Victorians in Contemporary Art: Britain and Beyond (published by Palgrave Macmillan: 2023) and also another group show at the end of the year in support of the UK charity, UK Youth.

Could you tell us about a piece of writing youre particularly proud of?

I am very proud of the novel I am writing at the moment as it is not only becoming an amazing achievement but a real rollercoaster of emotions, a pure labour of love with tears along the way. I am particularly fond of the haikus I published in my last book “Sentiments Deshabilles” for its purest form of mindfulness writing. I also really enjoyed writing gothic drabbles and currently working on a new collection. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 

I am blessed to be surrounded by beautiful souls, art, and music, breathing inspiration every day.

– Interview by Sophie Gordon 

– Photo by Joseph Yates

Nicolas will be leading a session as part of 26’s Wordstock 2023 on Saturday 21st October in Conway Hall Library and tickets are available now

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