ABOUT YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER, IRIS!
“Our bodies tell our stories,” shares Brooklyn-based photographer Iris Laurencio. “There is a saying in Spanish ‘recordar es vivir’ that translates ‘to remember is to live.’ I love the idea of visual storytelling, capturing meaningful moments and stories in life so that we can always remember. Our memories fade but photos are a forever reminder of our lives.”
Iris’s photography is a form of intimate portraiture that captures the everlasting. Though she specializes in honoring the female form, Iris is also available and adept at working in a broad array of photography contexts. Coursing through her images is an elegantly edgy spirit that she playfully describes as “wine and cigarettes.” Iris’s photography embraces all body types, comfort levels, and personal styles.
“I think for a lot of women it takes courage to be in front of a camera,” Iris says. “I don’t think a good picture itself builds confidence—otherwise a selfie with a filter would do the trick. I think stepping out of your comfort zone to do something that’s vulnerable is how we grow. The pictures are an added bonus beautifully documenting a time a time we were brave.”
She believes that allowing yourself to be photographed is a powerful message you send to your body. "You are saying to your body - you deserve to be documented, you are a work of art, I accept you and I want to see you. It’s an enlightening experience to see yourself beautifully captured in a photo.” Iris deeply resonates with Federico Garcia Lorca as he said, “The poem, the song, the picture, is only water drawn from the well of the people, and it should be given back to them in a cup of beauty so that they may drink…and in drinking understand themselves.”
Her work has often been described as “beyond boudoir” because her photos are free of the gratuitous and clichés of most “male gaze” approaches to intimate portraiture. “There is a fine line between sexuality and sensuality. I prefer, sensuality. Sensuality is more subtle, powerful, and playful—it’s those empowering moments we experience within ourselves.
Iris eases her clients into the intimate photography experience with a thoughtful preparation process. This includes an engaging and comprehensive electronic preparation guide, and an informative video chat. “I am so curious about people—who they are and what’s important to them and why they want to do this—those moments getting to know them are crucial to the photography session,” Iris shares.
She shoots in a warmly-stylized boutique studio in the quaintly hip enclave of Bushwick, Brooklyn and in a beautiful sun drenched brownstone in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (schedule permitting, and for an additional fee, she can accommodate alternate locations). During the session, Iris creates a safe, stylish, and carefree bubble to savor the intimate moments. “I like the feel of hanging out with a friend and getting ready to go out. It’s a youthful spirit, and it feels like home,” Iris says. “I can read people, and I know when it’s time to put down the camera, take a break and just chat.”
Iris discovered and cultivated her love of photography while she was a Peace Corps volunteer working in the Dominican Republic . At this time, Iris was inspired by the stories surrounding her, and a chance charitable photography calendar project kickstarted her career. “The first time I picked up a camera, it felt natural—it felt like I had finally found my calling,” she recalls.
One formative moment of her career trajectory occurred
during her Peace Corps experience in the Dominican Republic when she posed nude for an artist. "I wanted to push my boundaries and step out of my comfort zone.” She continues: “I grew up very Catholic and in the Midwest, so it was something monumental. I was excited and nervous, but it felt special, and it allowed me to embrace myself in a way I never had,” Iris remembers. “I look back on those photos and I can remember my body as it was then and what I was going through in my life at the time. It powerfully documented an important time in my life. I’m grateful for that experience and for the images I still have till this day.”
She began to connect her innate photography talents with the transformative experience through photographing her friends. “I have a lot of supportive friends and they were my first subjects. People began to see those images and hire me. Shooting women, and making them feel comfortable, came easily to me, many clients have described the photo session as therapeutic” Iris says.
One defining moment in honing on her intimate artistic perspective has been her Strangers Series. With this program of images, Iris approaches people on the New York City subway and bravely asks to shoot them. “When I’m riding on the train, I see characters all around me, and I don’t get to know them, but they spark something in me. By shooting them, I get to know them, and there is one less stranger out there.” Iris continues: “The first couple I approached I was sick to my stomach, I finally said ‘I’m sorry to bother you, but I love your style and would love to photograph you.’ During this whole time, I have never had anyone say ‘no’. I admire the photographer Amy Arbus, she once said ‘When I ask to photograph someone, it is because I love the way they look and think I make that clear. I’m paying them a tremendous compliment. What I’m saying is, I want to take you home with me and look at you for the rest of my life.’"
At the end of the day, for Iris it’s all about getting a beautiful photograph and creating a memorable experience. She says: “I love when I share a
client’s pictures with them, and I see their faces light up. I cherish the feeling knowing we captured a powerful piece of their lives.”
Brooklyn, New York