By Joe James
Meet Laura Barisonzi, a New York-based photographer specialising in lifestyle, sports, underwater, and people photography on location. An active lifestyle helps her to keep up with the professional athletes during the long hours on the set. Laura’s impressive client list includes names like NFL, Samsung, Adidas, Women’s Health, Canon, Dove, Gap, Rolling Stone, Google, Heineken, Runner’s World, Hilton, Muscle & Fitness, New Balance, Red Bull, Reebok, and Surfer among many others.
Production Paradise: Your style is based on capturing natural action and genuine emotion in your work. Is this difficult to consistently achieve?
Laura Barisonzi: Yes absolutely, a lot comes down to casting and pre-production to create the conditions to have these spontaneous moments occur.
Production Paradise: Having looked at your brilliant portfolio of work and seen many different types of sports amongst your catalogue; which pieces of work were the most challenging and which shoots did you enjoy most?
Laura Barisonzi: Underwater shooting is probably still the hardest because I am usually holding my breath while shooting and wearing a weight belt. Also, the focus is always more challenging in the water than in air. I really enjoy working with gymnasts because of their wide range of skills and mobility they have with their body.
Production Paradise: Is there any specific equipment you currently use which helps you to capture more dynamic shots?
Laura Barisonzi: I have a painters pole with a custom attachment so that we can be very mobile with the lights and put them where we need. I often shoot with generators for on-location sports shoots- no portable batteries for photo can currently beat generators for power. In general, it’s about choosing the right tools for the shoot, that’s one of the fun things about shooting sports, each sport has its own challenges.
Production Paradise: Are there difficulties with lighting when shooting in stadiums given that you cannot use diffused lighting which is the norm in studios?
Laura Barisonzi: I try to sacrifice as little as possible. While there are certain specific modifiers that aren’t practical due to the wind, I use studio style modifiers on location – it’s a matter of being smart about production choices and having an experienced and fit team.
Production Paradise: While shooting sports images, is it easier to work with professional athletes or with models?
Laura Barisonzi: Both have their strengths. If possible I prefer to work with professional athletes because they can bring a level of accuracy to their movements. They inspire me with what they can do with their bodies and have the endurance and ability that models can’t match. Pitfalls and errors can happen when models act out sports or fitness activities because they don’t have the same level of familiarity with as someone who has done it for the last 15 years. This often means a lot of time spent on coaching and direction. That being said often professional athletes have very limited windows of time available which can limit the number of shots you can achieve.
Production Paradise: What’s the most challenging thing in sports photography?
Laura Barisonzi: Mastering the timing and technique of freezing high-speed motion remains at the forefront. We are capturing moments that the naked eye can barely see. Even though technology has taken huge strides – freezing motion perfectly will never stop being a consideration.
Production Paradise: What are you working on now?
Laura Barisonzi: I’m shooting images of some new athletes for Red Bull.