We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurie Freitag and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurie, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in the Bronx, New York. We moved a lot. From the Bronx we moved to Canarsie, Brooklyn where I went to kindergarten. From there we moved to Coney Island. We stayed a year where at 6 years old I had my first brush with crime. As I waited for the school bus to take me home, a boy ‘pulled a knife’ and stared at me while he held it. It was a threatening gesture. I was frightened but that was the first time I became aware of my ‘super power’. The boy and I locked eyes. I had no idea what would come next but he backed down. My eyes became a big part of my persona. They were my camera. I saw all and at 6 years old a good tool to have walking the streets of Coney Island- which for some reason I was known to do! I grew up in a time where children should be seen but not heard. My mother was always talking and I only remember hearing my fathers voice when he was angry. I’m sure in this environment my ‘super power’ of staring was born. Having my own voice as I grew up became a challenge and it’s only now as I approach the age of 65 that I feel the most free to express what I think and feel.
I worked in production for 20 years at KHJ/KCAL in Los Angeles. (See image of me running camera for the Jack LaLanne show). It was a job that paid the bills nicely but my heart was never in it. I always had one foot in photography but it wasn’t until I took a buy-out, left the world of TV and followed a new path that led to what would determine my true calling.
Ten years ago I started to work as a nanny. I was fortunate to work for a couple of families that encouraged me to photograph their children. This freedom on the job in essence became like an artist residency and I was able to hone my art. Taking pictures became an obsession on the job and for convenience I had to put my camera down ultimately and exclusively photograph with whatever phone was popular.
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Thank you! I am most proud of a recent body of work that was inspired by working with a 4 year old boy (as a nanny) in a garden during the beginning of the pandemic called ‘In the Garden at Chislehurst’.
The series explores my challenges of adjusting emotionally to the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic came to my world I thought I could ‘handle’ it but I spent most evenings stockpiling supplies from Amazon preparing for the worst.
My days, as I’ve said, were spent, in a garden in Los Angeles as a nanny to a 4 year-old boy, where he pulled berries from a bush to make berry stew. I sat alongside him in the dirt as he ‘cooked.’ In that pretend world of innocence & nature I found solace and safety.
Most recently this work has been shown at the Portfolio exhibit at the Lightbox Gallery (Astoria, Oregon), the Color exhibit at the SE Center of Photography (Greenville, N. Carolina), the Fine Art exhibit at the Blank Wall Gallery (Athens, Greece) and the Botanicals exhibit at the Las Laguna Gallery (Laguna Beach, CA.)
I would say that you really get out of art what you put into it. It’s a lot of work and I am most inspired by others doing that work- the actual day-to-day getting the work out there work. I’m at heart a street photographer that documents what is around me so the work that comes through me is always going to be what I see in my surroundings.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting the area and I wanted to show them the best time ever? I’m assuming it’s pre-pandemic. I would take them to hear the Golden Bridge Choir led my Maggie Wheeler in Hollywood on Sunday afternoons. I used to be one of 100 people that could raise the roof with song. Visitors are encouraged to participate as there’s a lot of call and response singing making it easy for everyone to join in. Late lunch would be at Carousel restaurant in Hollywood, my favorite Lebanese restaurant where they have the best pickled turnips I’ve ever had! A visit to a hidden house in the hills to hear music from Nichols Canyon Music concerts would definitely be on the list of things to do. Pre-pandemic I was at this house 2x a month listening to talents from all over the world in the best living room in L.A. Another fun thing to do in L.A. is to get a day pass to a pool at a local hotel. The Hollywood Roosevelt is pretty cool ($60) but there are less expensive day passes around town. And staying in that vein of pampering we would have to go to my favorite massage spa, The Pampered Foot Spa. You have your clothes on, you’re in a room with 10 other stations and you are getting the best Shiatsu/Thai massage in the area. And the price can’t be beat- $35 for 70 minutes!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give credit to a new friend fine art photographer Ellen Friedlander and to an old friend fine art photographer Lori Pond. Ellen’s drive and positivity are off the charts and Lori’s quiet steady calm have inspired me to get out of my own way and move forward everyday. Both shoot from the hip in a kind way. I appreciate these qualities of encouragement and love in ways that make my life joyful and full, even during the pandemic where lack is prevalent.