Lorikay Stone is professional photographer and events coordinator. I met her through a mutual friend who wanted us to link together and discuss the upcoming Art Walk. Lori’s vivacious and enthusiastic personality was very appealing to me and I knew she would be an interesting subject for an interview. Little did I know how talkative she is – her pictures truly are worth a thousand words.
How long have you been taking photos?
I’ve always taken pictures. I am fifth generation Kodak, my family started when Kodak started. My family wasn’t full of professional photographers, but my grandfather was an amazing photographer and he tested film. He had a beautiful eye for capturing moments.
When I attended high school I took some photography courses, I found as an artist I was messy, but I had a really good eye. Someone eventually asked if I would take some pictures of them and they would pay me, I was 18 or 19. I remember I then moved to Ft. Lauderdale because both of my grandparents fell ill and I enrolled in more photography courses. My grandpa gave me lots of feedback, technical feedback. I did lots of photography projects for him when I was younger.
What drew you to photography?
Mainly my family history and I had a good eye for it. What drew me to people photography is that I’m very social, I like people and I felt it was a way to give back. I recall a friend of mine wanted to collect a scrapbook of different locations nationwide and I figured it would be a good way to travel. Ironically, I actually met my ex-husband of fifteen years on that trip.
Have you always resided in Atlanta or are you from a different area?
I was born in upstate New York after my parents divorced and moved to Florida or what I like to call “South New York” (laughs). When I was 25, I took a trip nationwide and that was my attempt at discovering myself. I moved to Colorado Springs in 92 and worked for a professional photo lab. There I met some of the greatest photographers in the world and these were landscape photographers. I took what I learned from them and applied it to portraits.
When did you start shooting around the Atlanta area?
I moved here in 1999 and didn’t pick up my camera for a year. I wanted to change jobs and do something new; I actually became a travel agent. I vowed to not pick up a camera for a year and believe it or not a year to that day, a friend of mine asked for me to take a portrait.
I remember after 9/11, many photo agencies closed because the Internet started to change everything. These were older photo agencies and they couldn’t keep up with online transactions and processing. The Internet put a lot of these kinds of agencies out of business and I was able to pick up many of their clients. But I realized then that it’s very important to understand and be proficient in different levels of photography, in addition, almost everybody should have the opportunity to capture their family on film. You should pick your photographer like you pick your therapist, you need to be comfortable with that individual and the photographer needs to have the ability to bring that extra spark out of an individual or group of people.
You coordinate a major event called the Art Walk, give me some details about that.
It’s been going on for a couple years. The next one is May 14 at Studioplex and it will have everything to titillate your senses. We have chefs, poets, performance artists, skywalkers, yes even Luke (laughs).
There is a huge range of artists. Angie Wehunt will be there and she’s a folk artist, also Drea James a jewelry artist and Catherine Plate. Nabil Mousa will have some work there and he is from Syria, he concentrates on abstract paintings that support various gay rights movements worldwide.
Do you set up any other events around town?
Whenever I’m called to do it. I’m involved with Women in Focus and we do 3-4 gallery shows, I also have a Paris photography exhibit at the Stewart McLean gallery.
Let’s talk about influences. Who are some of your artistic influences?
I get the spiritual power of my art from a connection with God. I’m very spiritually and philosophy based, so I’m careful about how I throw around the word God. But to me God is a catch all term for something undefinable. I view God as the binding power of all things.
In terms of other influences, Nabil Mousa is one of my mentors and he taught me to be more free flowing and encouraged me to do more artwork in addition to my photography. He made me paint on top of my photographs and he’s always told me to be free and let things flow. That’s a very different form from how I shoot. In my photo studio, it’s about control, whether it be controlling lights, shade, the subject, but sitting with a paintbrush is really scary and hard to do.
Ansel Adams said, “Not everybody trusts paintings, but people believe photographs.”
I’ve often felt that most people categorize photography as more of documentation process and not an art. Would you define photography as a creative art or is it the opposite?
It is an art form. Art is making sense of things, reflecting beauty. I am in awe of photographers who walk down an ordinary street on an ordinary day and they see a shadow or reflection and capture that moment. An artist is someone who can capture from within. Those working with digital photography and film definitely need to have that skill. Bear in mind, Ansel Adams said that before digital photography (laughs). Coincidentally, I went to his exhibit in Cartersville and he had some very beautiful and artistic portraits of people.
Do you feel it’s necessary for people to obtain formal photography training or is it something one can learn on their own?
I struggle with that…but I’ve been shooting for 23 years. I’ve always had mentors and took the craft very seriously. Nowadays with digital photography it’s done two things. One, it has diluted the field, two, it has forced the people who are serious about their craft to take things to the next level.
I feel it’s important for people to consult an expert about photography because if you don’t know what to look for, it’s advantageous to find someone who does. I look at some photographers work and they have shoddy websites and layouts and it comes from a lack of training. People need to make sure the head shots and other things on their website look professional and well thought out. This is your first chance, your first impression, remember that.
To view Lorikay’s gallery and receive more details about the Art Walk, you can contact Lori via her site here