Prompted by a weekend spent shooting Palo Alto's May Fete Parade on Saturday and East Palo Alto's Cinco de Mayo Parade, Laura made the decision early on to exhibit the pictures at Visa 2019 as pairs. This influenced how she selected locations, people and moments to capture, editing as she went along.
"I was looking for a mirror match to every photograph," she says. "When I got a photo I liked from one city, I'd print it out and put it on my wall at home so it was in my head to search for in the other city. For example, I had a photograph from church in East Palo Alto that I liked, and when I went to the Palo Alto church I had that photo in my mind. I saw a group standing in the same way, holding their hands in a semi-circle in prayer, even with the similar touches of red in their clothing, so I ran over and took the photo."
The challenge was finding visually interesting situations to photograph. "These are not the most dramatic-looking places, and this is essentially a story about daily life in suburban towns. I tend to pick projects that are not visually obvious, overcoming this by waiting for moments and photographs to come together." This entailed a fair amount of street photography, which was an interesting experience for someone who says she is, by nature, shy. "I'm much more comfortable when I've talked my way into an intimate situation than out on the street. It was necessary for this project, though, and I found myself getting more comfortable with it."
Laura is now working on the next stage of Wild West Tech, looking at cryptocurrency and robotics start-ups, but University Avenue is far from over. "There are quite a few photos I love that I haven't found mirrors for yet, even though I know they're out there," she says. "I like to work on long-term projects in chapters and immerse myself for a few months, complete one chapter and then take a breather. When I come back, I usually see things with fresh eyes."