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Art Maker: Laura Kokoski, photographer

  • GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Photographer Laura Kokoski at her home in North Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Photographer Laura Kokoski at her home in North Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • An estuary near Fairhaven, Mass. Image courtesy of Laura Kokoski

  • Slatestone Brooks Falls, Sunderland Image courtesy of Laura Kokoski

  • “Mr. Fitz.” Image courtesy of Laura Kokoski

  • Untitled. Image courtesy of Laura Kokoski

  • Untitled. Image courtesy of Laura Kokoski

  • “A foggy morning.” Image courtesy of Laura Kokoski

  • —Courtesy Laura Kokoski

  • —Courtesy Laura Kokoski


Friday, June 01, 2018

Call it a combination of serendipity and inspiration. Laura Kokoski of Hadley, who runs a pet service in town — dog walking, pet sitting, dog training — started taking photos of her clients’ animals some years back for her website. “I thought the photos looked pretty good,” she says, “and I continued trying to get better ones. And, as I walked dogs during the day … I noticed interesting flowers, colors, and patterns. I would get my camera and go back and capture them.” Kokoski continues to enjoy running her pet-care business, but she’s expanded her photography to capture landscapes, seashore views, and close-ups of animals and other details of nature. She also sells her images as prints of varying size and on note cards. 

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you’re currently doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Laura Kokoski: I am trying to challenge myself and take photos of different subjects, using several settings, for fun, to see the different effects. I recently took some photos of old buildings and old vehicles. I really liked seeing the different patinas on the old vehicles. During this process, I was surprised to see what I got was some nice samples of Americana. 

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

LK: I’ll often go for a ride and look for things that pique my interest. One time I wanted to photograph horses. While I was taking pictures of horses at a distance, one walked right up to me! I said, “Oh, you want your picture taken?” I snapped a few closeups, and you could see the horse’s personality come through in the photo — the best one of the day. 

HL: How do you know when your work is finished?

LK: Sometimes I have an image in mind of what I want to shoot. If a photo I have taken doesn’t seem quite right, I may go back and try it again. And when the image matches what I originally imagined, then it is finished. 

HL: Have you ever had a “mistake” — a project that seemed to be going south — turn into a wonderful discovery instead?

LK: I once went to the beach,  looking for boats and water. It was foggy all day — I don’t even think I took my camera out. But on the way back home, I got a great photo of a foggy scene. I sent it to NECN and they ran the photo in a loop for several hours that day; they said it looked like a scene out of “Star Wars.” That was a Eureka photo.

HL: If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you'd be?

LK:  Well, my pet business led to the photography business. I am so lucky. What are the odds of that? One business I love leading to my photography, which I also love.

HL: What do you do when you're stuck?

LK:  I was stuck early last year … nothing was coming to me. I went to a photography store, thought about some new equipment, and told the woman of my dilemma. She said everyone gets stuck — writers, songwriters, and photographers. Sometimes looking at different photography helps, or a change of scenery. I think what I needed was a vacation. We eventually went away for a weekend, and the change of scenery helped me to refocus.

— Steve Pfarrer

Laura Kokoski’s photos are on display through June at Atkins Farms Country Market in Amherst, Northampton Cooperative Bank on King Street in Northampton, and the Daylily gallery and gift shop in South Deerfield. Selected images can also be seen at the North Hadley Sugar Shack. More information on her photography and pet care business is available at neighborhoodpetserv.angelfire.com.