We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Morsman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I am from a large family, the 2nd oldest of 6 kids, from Kansas City Missouri! I was homeschooled from pre-k to mid-way through high school, never graduated, but somehow found myself at a university which I left in my senior year after studying child psychology and childhood development with a minor in painting/ceramics.
I had a challenging childhood and navigated my way through by immersing myself into creating art, films and watching movies to help me cope and imagine a more beautiful, safe world – my surroundings were not gentle or supportive of creativity or emotion, so diving into other people’s narratives and worlds, such as movies with a strong underdog defeating the odds story , reading books about psychology and other cultures and going to art museums with my headphones on and just escaping into that beautiful vast world of art truly helped me get to the other side of that challenging season of my life.
I experienced a large amount of loss at a very early age, and was familiar with grief very early on, which I know changed me as a person and changed the way I see other people and life in general. I know the combination of coming face to face mortality and also realizing that if I wanted change in my world, it was fully up to me. Growing up very quickly gave me a lot of confidence to take control and ownership of my ambitions, my actions, and to not depend or expect anyone else to encourage or validate them in order for them to be real for me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I never imagined being a full time photographer. After leaving college, I managed Anthropologie stores, was a front desk person at a dentist office, and in high school was a grocery store clerk, working artist and nanny. Those careers truly all were fulfilling to me, and I know it is because it involved working face to face with new person after new person. It was fascinating and felt like such an emotionally diverse experience.
I only started taking photos of people when my youngest brother and sister, Macy and Solomon, were adopted in 2008, and I would come home during college or even after I was out of college to photograph them, spend time with them, go on adventures, and document their lives. I realized how much I loved working with kids, coming from a child-psych background, and loved photographing their spontaneity and joy. Since then, Macy and Solomon have been so much of the heart behind why I do what I do, and why creating a safe and inclusive environment for adults and children is an absolute priority to me.
It wasn’t long after Macy and Sol joined our family, that I was hired to photograph a wedding, and I started doing part time photography while I was working 9-5’s until 2014 when I left Anthropologie and went full time photographer!
With all of those experiences, I know they were vital to the customer connection and communication I have with my clients. Creating a safe, welcoming, inclusive, personal, collaborative, fun experience is my top priority when photographing anyone.
My biggest challenge throughout my career has been creating boundaries between myself and my work. My “why” is the people I get to meet. My career is documenting people living their lives, being with their people, experiencing firsts and lasts, and with that, my emotional bond is so strong when I am walking into strangers and friends lives, and seeing such vulnerable moments. You are a fly on the wall of a life that is coming and going and you get to hand that back to someone to look at, and see how you see them. It is an honor. I watch lives happen, unfold, bloom, wither, end, all of it. For me, that bond, that emotional attachment to my friends, clients, and my work, feels all encompassing sometimes. I am challenged with overloading myself, holding everyone’s stories, and not setting time aside to take care of my additional needs.
If I wanted to share one thing about my brand and my story, it’s that I do what I do to empower, celebrate, and embrace others in exactly where they are, where they’ve been, who they are, who/what they love, and what makes them intricately themselves. I have only lived my own life and walked through my own experiences, and to feel seen, safe, and validated in that, was life changing for me, even if it was one single person that made space for me to feel those things. If I can give that feeling to anyone else in my time on this earth, I will have done what I was hoping to do. To share and hold space with and for someone else, is an honor. To hand back an image of vulnerability and strength that you see in someone in a very specific moment, one that they’ve gotten to only after every single other thing they’ve gotten through in their life.. It makes this whole thing feel like much more than a career.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh I love this..
I am very into being outside, but not truly amongst the nature unless I’m photographing someone in it or if it’s Fall/Winter here, so I would show a friend my favorite places to eat, drink, and swim!
I love sitting outside at ATX Cocina, Whisler’s, Techo, Justine’s, El Alma, Kitty Cohens, Treaty Oak. I love a poolside day at one of the local hotels, and I also love getting in my car and just driving and listening to music!
On a weeknight you may find me hanging out in my own backyard or swimming at the local pool. I also love the bar at South Congress Hotel! I’m here for the dark, moody, calm vibes!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My therapists 🙂
I wouldn’t be here without the support and love from my therapists over the years, and to this day have to pinch myself that I am even here sometimes. When I was 14 I struggled deeply with anorexia, and a former employer of mine offered me a contact to my very first therapist, Kori, who saved my life and embraced my artist’s mind and eye. She heard my story and fully saw me.
Each day I get on this earth, photographing people, their lives, their spirits, their energy, it’s a gift and I am so incredibly grateful for the time I have here.
I also want to thank my clients from day one, through now. I have been carried this far in my career by the people who stand by and support me month and month, year after year and share my work. There are no words for this gratitude. Each one of them are an extension of my family and my heart and I cannot thank them enough!
Laura Morsman Photography