compagnon of inspiration - Part 15: Laura Helena

compagnon der Inspiration – Teil 15:  Laura Helena

Laura Helena is the go-to person when it comes to fantasy people photography and playful romantic Photoshop art. She pushes the boundaries of reality when she works, but is still a genuine, direct personality, which her many students also appreciate. As it takes a lot of effort for her to leave her warm bed on cold days, we are all the more pleased that she is with us today:

"compagnon of inspiration" - Part 15

Brief portrait

At the age of 26, Laura is not only in great demand as a photographer but also as a trainer in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Since her first major lecture at Photokina 2014, she has long been a household name in the creative scene. When she does find time for a cozy movie night, she prefers to watch, who would have thought it, visually stunning fantasy flicks like Lord of the Rings or the Potter series. For Laura, some Brussels sprouts are the ideal accompaniment, as they fit in perfectly between the other arch-enemies Voldemort and Sauron.

compagnon: Good morning Laura, nice to have you with us. It's immediately obvious that you stand out from our previous interview guests. Your fantasy style is something special. That's why we asked ourselves what came first? Your enthusiasm for this look and the clothes, props etc. required for it or your passion for photography?

Laura Helena: Good morning, of course the camera came first. I simply wasn't yet in a position to create costumes like this. At first I was only interested in people and portrait photography, but very quickly that wasn't enough for me. I wanted more, I wasn't satisfied with the pictures, something was missing. And so after just a few months, I started working on the whole thing and using easy-to-make props such as flower wreaths.


compagnon: That reminds you that not only the work behind the camera but also the performance for a certain motif can be decisive. And you taught yourself how to make these elaborate dresses, headdresses etc.?

Laura Helena: Exactly, I started with YouTube tutorials, but of course also a lot of trial and error. But I also like to work with designers, which means I borrow pieces. One hand washes the other, the designers get to use the pictures and I get to use the costumes, which is a great way to get unusual costumes. But of course making your own costumes is great fun and broadens the spectrum of creativity. That's why I want to learn to sew this year, so that the costumes will be even better and of better quality in the future.

compagnon: Impressive. In addition to the dresses, your pictures naturally also benefit from your input as a Photoshop artist. How did that come about? Did you also learn this on your own? After all, you are now a sought-after trainer in this field.

Laura Helena: I've actually been very interested in Photoshop from the very beginning. That may be because I used to draw a lot and then Photoshop offered me a balance in photography. Especially when I started using a drawing board, it really reminded me of what it's like to draw. I taught myself a lot at the beginning, starting with CS3. I also attended a photography college and continued to create my own style and improve my workflow. Today I can't imagine life without Photoshop, it goes hand in hand with my photography. In staged fantasy photography, Photoshop starts where reality ends and fantasy begins.


compagnon: You say you use Photoshop to overcome the boundaries of reality. Does that mean that the basic image from the camera plays less of a role? How many shots do you typically need until you have the right basis? Does it make a difference whether you have a controlled studio environment or are out and about outdoors?

Laura Helena: But that's a big misunderstanding. The raw file is actually immensely important to me. If it comes out of the camera in perfect condition, Photoshop is easy. Then I just have to get creative instead of repairing it first. The raw file must therefore be perfect. That doesn't take me very long either. If the concept is there, it can be finished after the tenth picture. Especially if it's my own idea. For clients, it's usually around 60 images. I limit this somewhat so that the customer can still make a decision at the end. I work outdoors 90% of the time, even for composings in some cases, which is why I'm so happy with compagnon products. In the studio, when it's too cold for a client, I use motif backgrounds to achieve the dreamy style.

compagnon: And we've already cleared up a misconception. Is there another question that you hear particularly often in your everyday life as a trainer and workshop leader and how do you answer it?

Laura Helena: Oh yes, there is actually another one. You hear it in general as a self-employed person and not just as a trainer. People say that you sleep in late and have a very relaxed life. That's absolute nonsense, my day always starts at the same time and quite early. It's a lot of work as a self-employed person to get all the organization under one roof. The job as a trainer and photographer involves a lot of organizational work, which many people underestimate.


compagnon: You mentioned your concept earlier, which you build before the shoot. Where do the ideas and your inspiration come from? Do you secretly lock yourself away in a designer's sewing room and let the clothes work their magic on you?

Laura Helena: No, of course not. Inspiration often comes from within, but also from books, movies and music. These are really good sources of inspiration. But I can also be inspired by craft materials that I see in decoration stores. Then I get started and usually end up with costumes like this.

compagnon: Since films inspire you and the possibilities for maximum visual impact are often almost limitless, we would like to know the following in conclusion: Perfect world for one day. A shoot in your style is coming up, where you can choose everything from your personal box of wishes. Models, props, equipment, location/backdrop, team... Money doesn't matter. What does this shoot ultimately look like?

Laura Helena: That's difficult to answer, because ultimately you always stick to the things you have at your disposal. But if I could do what I wanted for a day, I'd try to charter a jet, get the model Maria Amanda, she's just a beautiful model, I don't have a specific designer in mind right now, but someone who does great vintage fantasy things. A make-up artist is also coming on the plane and then we would try to reach as many countries as possible in one day. Shoot for 1-2 hours at each location. It's not so cool because of the pollution, but it's definitely fun. Start in rugged Ireland, mountainous, rocky with green meadows. Or even better to Norway with its fantastic cliffs and fjords. Then towards Romania with the fantastic forests there. On to the sea and finally to the Azores, where the vegetation is wonderful. You can't do more in one day. The goal would be harmonious images, not so much storytelling. Let the breathtaking elements take effect.


compagnon: Thank you for literally talking to us out of the "sewing box" and giving our readers an insight into your workflow. We hope that many new creative minds will get to know you in the new year, learn from you and discover your work for themselves. We wish you a successful 2017 and look forward to having you in our compagnon family. All the best!


The images in this article were provided to us by Laura Helena. The images are protected by copyright. The sole rights are held by Laura Helena. More from Laura on Instagram and on her website

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