by Leena Kim
Judy Glickman Lauder grew up in front of the camera. Her father, Irving Bennett Ellis, was a prominent doctor who also happened to have quite a passion—and talent—for photography. She didn't pick it up herself until 40 years ago, but she has been inseparable to her cameras ever since. A 28-piece selection of her volume of work (from haunting scenes of Holocaust concentration camps to store windows in Paris and the streets of Havana long before it became a destination du jour) is currently on view at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in NYC. We sat down with Lauder, pictured above with her husband Leonard Lauder, to talk about her craft.
What's your artistic process like? How do you find subjects to photograph?
Photography is something that has been a part of me all my life. Wherever I am, I'm always carrying a camera. I travel with a ton of film and two cameras—for color photos, I do digital, but for black and white, I still use film.
You were primarily a black-and-white photographer until you started doing color six years ago. What brought about the transition?
It started with me just experimenting with color and seeing what it can do. I love the whole process. With color, it's almost like an entering, as if I'm stepping into the image. Almost all of the color images have a part of me in them. Some are obvious, some are subtle, but they're all personal—me being surrounded by color and art.
Was it your intention to incorporate yourself into your color images?
No, I never have any intentions. I always go to what I'm drawn to—I try to let myself be free. There was a time when I was photographing and kept thinking, Oh my God, why didn't I bring this kind of film? Why didn't I have this certain lens? Why didn't I come this time of day? I don't do that anymore. I just go with it and see where it leads me.
The works in this show are centered around the theme of reflection... Can you talk about this photo you took in Istanbul?
I really see reflection—I see light and shadow. I was walking around in Istanbul and there was a cafe set to open in a few months and they had put up cardboard figures inside to show what was going to happen. I was outside shooting through the glass, but what reflected on the glass was everything going on behind me. All of my work is straight, natural, not superimposed, no double exposure, and no Photoshop. What you see is what you get and this was one shot, a single image of an inside/outside scene.
Do you only work with natural light?
Yes, I have always worked with natural light. I'm very taken with the spirituality of light. There's a photograph on my wall in my house in Maine, of my mother and me when I was five years old. At 5 a.m. one day, the sun broke through, and there was this brilliant color submerging this portrait. I was in that light—like a re-entering—shooting it. I've never seen the house like that again, because the sun circles, it rises in a different place in different seasons. It was just one moment, and that appeals to me.