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Featured: Sensitive Photographs by Lar Rattray

Swans - Lar Rattray (13)


Lar Rattray is a photographer who seeks the beauty in the everyday. We were first introduced to her work through a series, Swans, documenting behind the scenes of the Cape Town City Ballet. Preferring to capture things as they naturally unfold, her unforced approach and sensitive eye are unbound by genre – including portraiture, fashion and lifestyle. We spoke to Lar about her background, the experience of taking photographs and what’s in store for her next.


Growing up, was there ever an indication that you’d be doing what you are now?


Not at all… I grew up on a sugar cane farm in Northern Zululand. If you’ve ever spent time out there (especially as a child) you’ll know that’s answer enough.


What is your earliest photography-related memory?


My Mum was always documenting everything… everything! Every holiday, birthday, broken limb, race, pet, hobby and costume was captured on film or video. So I would say my earliest memories are of grinning at her while she was taking pictures or filming us (with a shoulder-mount camcorder straight outta the 80s).


When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career as a photographer, and how have you gone about doing so?


I lived and worked in London for a couple years straight out of school, and discovered my love for photography (and photographs) while living there. I moved to Cape Town to study photography and spent every pound I had making it happen.


How would you describe your style or aesthetic, and how has this developed since you first started out?


It’s always so difficult to describe your own style, especially when you’re not genre specific like I am. But something that seems to come up a lot when other people describe my work is that there is always an underlying femininity and softness in what I do.


What are you influenced and inspired by?


Nature and all things natural… Whether it be in manner, reason or appearance.


What, for you, makes a good photograph?


An image that makes the everyday mundane… seem beautiful.


When photographing people, do you give quite a lot of direction or do you prefer to capture things as they naturally unfold?


Naturally… definitely.


Tell us more about your Swans series. Did you shoot this as a personal project?


There was no real plan surrounding the Swan series… I took these photographs years ago with a borrowed camera while I was bouncing around between assisting jobs. A friend who was dancing for Cape Town City Ballet at the time invited me backstage for an afternoon… one afternoon became two… three… I forget now. Something I do remember was how few photographs I actually took that first afternoon… Some things you don’t always want to see (or remember) through a lens.


What is your dream project?


The dream is Africa – from end to end. This is a shared dream, something I need to do with my own little tribe one day.


How has photography changed the way you look and think about things?


The lesson for me has been how an everyday-something or even the most familiar of faces can be rediscovered and appreciated in a different light, simply by the way in which it/he/she has been documented.


What is more rewarding: the process of taking photographs, or the final outcome?


The experience is everything… Even though there is an undeniable relationship between the two, the memory or memento is nothing without the experience.


How do you overcome barriers to creativity, or what do you do when you’re just feeling a little uninspired?


I think this is something that happens in all walks of life, love and work… Everything needs a little breathing space every now and again.


What are you working on at the moment, and what are your plans going forward?


I’m moving back North to Natal at the end of the year. Even though I’m moving back to where I grew up, Cape Town has been my home and teacher for 11 years now… So going forward it’s all about finding my feet in my old (new) backyard.


Follow Lar’s work on Facebook and Instagram.




Swans - Lar Rattray (1)

Swans - Lar Rattray (5)

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Swans - Lar Rattray (12)

Swans - Lar Rattray (9)

Swans - Lar Rattray (8)

Swans - Lar Rattray (3)

Swans - Lar Rattray (11)

Swans - Lar Rattray (6)

Swans - Lar Rattray (4)

Swans - Lar Rattray (10)

Swans - Lar Rattray (7)


Lookbook for Black Betty:


Lar Rattray (6)

Lar Rattray (9)

Lar Rattray (8)

Lar Rattray (4)

Lar Rattray (7)

Lar Rattray (1)

Lar Rattray (5)


Missibaba campaigns:


Fashion - Lar Rattray (1)

Fashion - Lar Rattray (2)

Fashion - Lar Rattray (4)

Fashion - Lar Rattray (3)


Selected portraits:


Portrait - Lar Rattray (4)

Portrait - Lar Rattray (5)

Portrait - Lar Rattray (3)

Lar Rattray (11)

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