By Devi Laskar
[KJ] Can you talk about why you chose photography?
DEVI S. LASKAR: I chose photography as art form and as therapy. In 2010, through no fault of my own I lost most of my work: poetry and prose. I flailed for more than a year, and then a friend encouraged me use photography to restart my creative life. Taking photographs every day since June 23, 2011 (and captioning these photographs), has allowed me a way to jump-start my poetry. Photography was solace and it helped me reframe my creative intentions for a while until my words returned and I could start writing prose again.
What does this form provide that other media does not?
DSL: There’s an immediacy that I love. Digital photography and social media have helped me share my work, and it has helped me stay accountable with friends, most of whom live across the country, who hold me to my pledge to practice #artaday every day.
What do you look for when framing a shot?
DSL: I’m looking for something that’s a little incongruent, I’m interested in lighting and shadow.
What draws you to the pictures you take?
DSL: Most of the photographs I take remind me of something else. For example, I love taking photos of the maple tree leaves in the fall as they change color. They are leaves, yes, but at second glance their veins and stems look like part of a city map.
Should photographers be cognizant of the narrative they create of a place or time when exhibiting photos?
DSL: I suppose so. I haven’t had the privilege yet of exhibiting my photographs on a large scale – the few times I’ve grouped a few photos for a journal or a small local exhibit, I’ve tried to pair pieces that, to me, are in conversation with each other.
How has the digital age affected photography?
DSL: I think it’s helped create a whole new generation of photographers. Not everyone can afford the expensive equipment or training. Digital photography has allowed more new users, and has opened the field of photography to everyone. It gives everyone with a smart phone a chance to practice making art.
Are there any photographers that have influenced your work?
DSL: I used to be a newspaper reporter. I hold photojournalists in the highest esteem. I’ve also love the works of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Steve McCurry.
Devi S. Laskar’s debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues (Counterpoint Press 2019) has garnered praise in The Washington Post, Chicago Review of Books, Booklist and elsewhere; and has appeared on the most anticipated lists in such publications as TIME, Cosmopolitan (UK), Marie Claire, Vogue & The Millions. The novel also has been published in India and the U.K/Commonwealth. Recently, the novel was a finalist for the 7th annual Crook’s Corner Book Prize in the U.S. (official announcement 1/6/20), and was named to the long-list for the 9th annual DSC Prize in India. Laskar holds an MFA from Columbia University and an MA from The University of Illinois, and BAs in English and Journalism from UNC-CH. A former newspaper reporter, she is now a poet, photographer and novelist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from such journals as poem-a-day (poets.org), Indian Express and Crab Orchard Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She is an alumna of both TheOpEdProject and VONA, among others. In 2017, Finishing Line Press published two poetry chapbooks. A native of Chapel Hill, N.C., she now lives in California with her family.