Director of Photolucida, Laura has juried for Critical Mass, Blue Sky Gallery's Northwest Drawers, United Photo Industries and PhotoPlace Gallery. She has curated exhibits at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland (Photo Alchemy: An Exhibition of Alternative Process Photography, and Resurrection: A New Look at Old Photographic Processes), at the Lishui International Photo Festival in China (Desiree Edkins, Lori Vrba), and the Xiang Sha Wan Photo Festival in Inner Mongolia (Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Nancy Newberry, Jane Alden Stevens). Laura has also written pieces for Finite Foto (Lisa Law, Taj Forer), Griffin Museum's Critic's Pick (Chris McCaw), and Photo-eye 's blog (Lucas Foglia).
Laura Valenti is a photographer, curator, educator, and arts director based in Portland, Oregon. She works as Outreach Director at Photolucida. Previously, she worked as Program Director and co-Curator at Newspace Center for Photography. Laura curates photography exhibitions around the country and internationally. She recently curated a major northwest landscape photography exhibition for the Oregon Historical Society. A documentary portraiture exhibition Laura curated was just shown at the Lishui International Photography Festival (China). Laura frequently serves as a juror for photography competitions. She has juried for Center's Director's Choice Awards, Photo District News, The Oregonian, Critical Mass, Rangefinder Magazine, LightBox Photographic, and more. She has also served as a reviewer at various portfolio review events, such as Houston FotoFest, Review Santa Fe, and Photolucida. Laura loves to help photographers clarify their vision and produce stronger work. She teaches online courses that focus on helping photographers identify sources of inspiration and reach photographic goals. She also lectures about photography and the creative practice and teaches immersive weekend photography retreats. www.valentiphotography.com
My First Polaroid Color Pack Land Camera – Maryland, mid-1970's
When I was about eight, my grandfather gave me one of his cameras – a Polaroid Color Pack Land Camera. My grandfather was a camera buff – always at the ready at family gatherings. He had recorded his intrepid life as an agronomist for the Foreign Service, taking his wife and three daughters though sojourns in Panama and Africa.
This specific photo of my Aunt Polly was taken by my young self in the back of my grandparent's house on the eastern shore of Maryland. Polly was my favorite aunt – calm, gracious, loving, beautiful. She had four children but always had time to spend with me as well, patiently teaching me how to sew. When I took this photo, I remember a hot day, and the sound of the camera clicking through its motions. I remember the smell of the developing gel, pink and toxic, and being careful not to get it on my fingertips. Pulling back the sheet after waiting 60 seconds was like witnessing a magic trick – how could something so neat even be possible?
My Aunt Polly died this year at 59 of pancreatic cancer. She never drank nor smoked, or even wore makeup. She grew her own food, tended a flock of 50 Heritage chickens, and had a life-long faith in the Lord. This photo of her is how I will remember her, that specific moment in time my own magic proof of her true self.-Laura Moya
Seoul, Korea 1982. Unhappy Kids at My Fifth Birthday Party
This is an image I took on my 5th birthday, in July of 1982. We were living in Seoul, Korea at the time. I love how the kids all look terribly bored. I suppose that even at a young age, I was boring my photographic subjects. Everyone probably wanted to get back to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, or pass-the-parcel – and I just wanted them to pose for one more shot.
The political situation in Korea was very much in flux in the early eighties. I remember balloons from North Korea flying over that backyard, dropping hundreds of propaganda fliers about how fantastic life was in the North. I'd run around the yard catching them as they fluttered down.
This image is particularly poignant for me, because my friend Noelle, on the left of the picture, her sister, and their parents were killed a year later when the Russian military shot down Korean Airlines flight 007 for mistakenly crossing into Russian airspace just north of Japan. It was one of the most horrific events in the Cold War, and it's haunted me since. At the time of this picture, we were innocent little kids at a (boring) birthday party, completely unaware of the political drama playing out on the international stage. When I look at it now, I see it as a picture about the last days of innocence.