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Musings: Laura Pannack on the Art of the Photo Walk

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Southend on Sea, United Kingdom, 2011

Every photographer has a particular way of fueling their own creativity. Laura Pannack, a London-based photographer, has her “walks”—which are photographic scavenger hunts of sorts. Pannack says that “most of my walks are just day trips, so my main aim is to wake early, head to the station with packed essentials and have no expectation of what lies ahead.”

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Canvey Island, United Kingdom, 2012

Pannack is not the first photographer to practice the photo walk—a much revered ritual of fledgling and seasoned photographers alike. What makes her work so remarkable is the way the images hold together as a group—each photo reflects Pannack’s fleeting interaction with the subject, while still conveying a signature style.

The images—which she has compiled into a series called “The Walks”—have a refreshingly clean quality to them, despite the fact that they are mostly just happenstance.

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Herne Bay, United Kingdom, 2013

“It’s often when I’m feeling burnt out, tired, or low that the walk is the most productive,” she says. “But it can be therapeutic, inspiring, and a chance to stop and take note of my surroundings.”

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Clacton-on-Sea, United Kingdom, 2011

Pannack’s images seem to capture some kind of frozen “moment,” whether or not something is actively happening at the time. Even though she sometimes breaks conventional visual rules—for example, framing her subjects in the center of the image, or slightly off center—ultimately her idiosyncratic style makes the “rules” seem frivolous.

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Littlehampton, United Kingdom, 2012

Pannack says that she is careful when she chooses to approach her subjects, keeping in mind what their reaction to her might be. For her, “The ultimate mistake is when I overthink an approach. I select people on instinct. I try to think what I need to say to make sure they are interested, can trust me, and feel comfortable.”

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Showburyness, United Kingdom

In addition to inspiring her work, the walks are a meaningful part of Pannack’s personal experience. She says: “I learn the most when I walk with a camera; about myself and the company I share. I engage. I stop mentally. I listen. True discipline, for me, is learning to decide when to experience and when to capture. The success of a walk must never be measured by the rolls expired.”

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Ukraine, 2013

See more of Laura Pannack’s work on her website, and follow her on Tumblr.

Follow Janna Dotschkal on Twitter and Instagram.

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