IF YOU LEAVE…. Laurence von Thomas applies his talent and wit in photography, filmmaking and in curating the very special ‘if you leave’ series. He feels that being involved in such multifarious work is ‘a bit like riding waves’ and still wonders how he gets away with so intimate photographs. He talks about his work, his picture of Patti Smith and his project travelling around the globe plus finally he is the one to mention television as an inspiration!

Do you feel torn between the roles of photographer, filmmaker and curator?

Absolutely not. It’s actually a good thing for someone like me who gets easily bored. It’s a bit like riding waves… when one project is about to lose its amptitude, another one comes sailing by.

How was the experience of creating the ‘if you leave’ project?

It’s been a very insightful experience from blog to book, both on a personal and professional level. ‘If you leave’ never set out to be what it has become, so you have this great voyage of a project which you see evolve in a very organic way.

What happens if he or she does leave after all?
My world will collapse and I’ll spend the rest of my days being an emotionally unstable person.

There is a very strong sense of London in your imagery. What influences you in the city you live in?

It acts as a backdrop, but at the same time it is the third man (or woman). I often see it as a big blob… a living organism that takes on different forms and has many mood swings.

How do you get people to open up in front of your camera and to have a private moment?
I think I emit a certain calm. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m completely convinced that taking a photo at that moment is justified. A lot comes down to what you project. Fact is… I rarely get told off! In your photographic work there is the momentum, however in many cases you are interested in the before and after moment as well. I’m a very lazy artist (laughing), so I try to be efficient. In terms of the first part of the question. I think the momentum captures the actuality of something, where as the before and after captures the mood.

Who are the people you take pictures of?

Anyone really.

Could you describe to me the photoshoot of Patti Smith? And who do you dream of taking the portrait of?

The Patti Smith shoot was completely improvised. I’d been asked to cover the presentation of her book ‘Just Kids’ at the Gallery De Pury. We ended up talking about one of Mapplethorpe’s photos from the book. At some point, she spotted my camera, which was this odd looking rangefinder and one thing led to another… The photo I selected is the one where she seems to forget about my presence for a second. I believe there lies a vulnerable truth in catching someone off guard.

Interview: Dafni Anesti | laurencevonthomas.com