PROFILE

Laura Bisgaard Krogh

A young boy plays with his shadow while leaning against a wall stencilled with hot air balloons.

This image of Mohammed, whose family fled the Kurdish city of Kobanî in northern Syria in 2015, is from Canon Ambassador Laura Bisgaard Krogh's series, Completely Silent. The family, now living in Denmark, "have rediscovered the peace they lost many years ago," says Laura. Taken on a Canon EOS 6D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 6D Mark II) with a Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens at 1/400 sec, f/2 and ISO200. © Laura Bisgaard Krogh

"For me, the camera is a key to open up doors into other people's lives," says Danish photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Laura Bisgaard Krogh. "That's what's important to me: to connect with and to relate to people in a personal way."

Working in both photography and video, Laura has produced a series of long-term solo and collaborative projects. Her subjects have included the 'Hidden People' of Icelandic folklore and the residents of an apartment block that's due for demolition. However, the main focus of her work is youth and identity, and recently she has particularly concentrated on at-risk children and teenagers.
Born in 1994, Laura grew up in Aarhus, Denmark, where she is still based. She had her first taste of photography as a seven-year-old child, using a small analogue camera. "I was fascinated by the magical film roll having images hidden inside it," she remembers. Her passion for photography really took off in her mid-teens when she bought her first DSLR: a Canon EOS 600D.

"As a teenager, I had a creative side where I did a lot of painting, drawing and photography, then there was a more academic side where I was interested in science and politics," she says. "When I discovered photojournalism, I realised there was a possibility of combining creativity with research, so I just went for it."

After school, she studied art photography and photojournalism at a Danish folk high school, followed by a BA in Photojournalism at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. This course included 18 months' work experience on the daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, in which she covered stories including the refugee crisis and forest fires.
Canon Ambassador and documentary photographer Laura Bisgaard Krogh.

Location: Aarhus, Denmark
Specialist areas: Documentary
Favourite kit:
Canon EOS 6D
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Two young girls lying down in a grassy field and playing with each other's hair.

Laura has produced several long-term projects, including Where Dreams Live, which documents the residents of a home for at-risk girls. "After a childhood affected by changing placements and neglect, the girls find peace within themselves and in their friendships," explains Laura. Taken on a Canon EOS 620 with a Canon EF 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. © Laura Bisgaard Krogh

A portrait of a young girl, the majority of her face in shadow.

A young girl's face in shadow – a portrait from Where Dreams Live. Taken on a Canon EOS 620 with a Canon EF 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. © Laura Bisgaard Krogh

"My time in news photography has really broadened my skills," says Laura. "Due to the short deadlines and the speed and quantity of assignments, you have to know your technique and be very quick at making your images a certain quality. Working with that many assignments every day really makes you a better photographer."

Although Laura has learned important skills from her news experience, her preferred way of working is to concentrate on long-term documentary stories in which she explores a subject in detail.

She says the project that means the most to her is A Question of Honour, which is about girls who have fled their families because they are at risk, in the worst-case scenario, of honour killing. "It means a lot to me simply because it's such an important story and I think the young women are so incredibly brave to be willing to tell their story," she says.
A family share sandwiches beside their car in the marshlands.

Nariman Ahmad, her husband Bahzat Atsh and their three children – the Kurdish family at the centre of Laura's Completely Silent series – are now enjoying a normal life far from the terror and bloodshed in Syria. Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with a Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/2 and ISO100. © Laura Bisgaard Krogh.

Laura's ultimate aim is for her work to have a positive effect, both on those she photographs and those who view it. "Most of all, I want the people I photograph to feel seen and to recognise themselves and maybe a certain state of mind in the pictures," she says.

"Of course, it would be good if our work brought about some political change. But if other people can see themselves in the images and recognise some sort of emotional state of mind they have within themselves, that's also really positive. That one thing can be both personal and universal at the same time."
Many of your projects are about young people. What draws you to photograph them?
"I feel that when they're growing and in the period of time where they are creating their own identity, both as a child and as a young adult, there's just a lot of energy in that process. And that fascinates me."

Which of your projects has been the most challenging?
"The most recent one, about a home for at-risk girls, has been very challenging in every aspect. The girls have had a very tough childhood and gaining their trust has been the main assignment for me. It's also been difficult due to the bureaucracy of getting consent from the girls, their parents, the home they live in and the municipality – all the many layers that are in place to protect them. But even though it's been very challenging it also makes me very happy."

What's the most important thing you've learned about documentary photography?
"Through my first teacher in photography at the Danish folk high school I learned the concept that you have to use yourself in order to really meet your sources. That idea was very much deepened when I went to art school, where I realised that in order for the people you photograph to open up to you, you have to be open and vulnerable yourself. And I think there's a lot of strength in that. A lot of great photography comes from vulnerability."

What's been the highlight of your career so far?
"I made A Question of Honour in collaboration with two dear friends, Andreas Haubjerg and Mikkel Thuesen, and we were very grateful to win first prize in the Portrait category of the Danish Picture of the Year 2019. That was certainly a highlight, because it created a lot of focus on the story itself and that's really what we wanted."

One thing I know

Laura Bisgaard Krogh

"To do a long-term documentary project, it's important to know why you are telling the story you are telling. You don't always know from the get-go, but I think it brings a great quality in your work when you know why you personally engage with, or work within, a particular theme. You have to really think what you can bring to the story, and protect your sources as you do it, especially if you work with at-risk people."

Instagram: @_laurakrogh

Website: www.laurakrogh.com

Laura Bisgaard Krogh's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Laura Bisgaard Krogh's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.

Camera

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

The successor to the EOS 6D that Laura uses captures detail-packed images packed with dynamic range thanks to its 26.2MP sensor. "I like the Canon EOS 6D because it's a good all-round camera – it can do portraiture and reportage very nicely," says Laura. "I like that it's a smaller camera and it's also good for video."

Canon EOS 620

Laura likes shooting analogue and describes the Canon EOS 620 as her perfect film camera – even though it was made in 1987. "It has the quality of a medium format camera and the speed of focus is very fast," she says. "I've used it to shoot some of my long-term projects."

Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

With its fast maximum aperture and rapid focusing system, this lens can be relied on for superb performance in any field of photography. Laura says: "I learned how to photograph using this lens and it's still very close to my heart – it's the lens I feel most at home with. I use it for both portraiture and reportage."

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

The latest version of the lens Laura uses delivers stunning image quality with advanced image stabilisation. "I use the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM exclusively when I'm shooting video," says Laura. "It's perfect for that work."

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

A 35mm prime lens with a four-stop Image Stabilizer and f/2 maximum aperture – ideal for low-light photography. "This is just a great lens for reportage photography, not too wide, not too narrow," says Laura. "This is my go to for documentary reportage."

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