We're thrilled to share this very special documentary project from Big Leo photographer Nicole LaMotte. Nicole recently traveled to beautiful Colombia and closely photographed all that she saw. We caught up with Nicole to find out more about her inspiration for the trip and what it meant to her.
What made you decide to take the trip to Colombia?
I had been hankering for a foreign adventure and a dear friend of mine asked me if I wanted to take the trip. When I did a little research about Colombia and the crafts they make, I was in. I am always happy to go to a place I've never been before, and to explore a new culture and landscape. Travel and culture has always made me feel both how incredibly large and extremely small our world is - and helped me to understand each of our places in it, or try to at least.
Is your approach to this type of photography (travel, photo-journalism, documentary, etc.) different than your approach to shooting for a client?
Yes and no. I studied photojournalism as an undergrad so I find this type of work to be in alignment with my natural instincts (responding to what is around me). There is an energy to that which I love. I try to keep that freshness and responsiveness present when shooting for clients but it's important to keep other things in mind when shooting for them - their brand perhaps, or the story they want to tell.
Philanthropy is very important to you! You've been involved in charitable projects, including a fundraiser for Heart to Haiti. How does that philanthropic mindset affect your photographic process, and what does it mean to you to document people and places in need?
Again, having studied photojournalism, my initial connection to photography was images that make a difference, that inform and educate us about the world around us. My photos from Hope to Haiti just gained new life with a campaign they launched called 10 Cards for Hope (www.10cardsofHope.com); that brings me the greatest joy. I have also become realistic about how much help my images can actually do. Due to the nature of this particular trip I was not able to connect with a nonprofit (because we were moving around too much) but I still love to tell the stories of those less fortunate as I think we all have something learn from them - gratefulness of course but also seeing their joy while having so much less.
In this project, you photograph people very intimately. What is your process for creating that kind of work? Did you get to know/talk to your subjects?
Sadly I did not have a dedicated translator for this trip which is always nice (and more sadly, I don’t speak Spanish) - but there are ways to communicate with people without language. Eye contact is very powerful and simple gestures go a long way. In a certain sense there is something more intimate about that since you can’t hide behind small talk. Some people don’t want to be photographed and that you have to respect. But overall there are so many encounters stay with you forever, even if I never saw the photo again.
Take a look at the wonderful project below: