PHOTOS BY erick guzman
STORY BY caroline orr
Elisa's shop is no longer available. Please see samples of her work below.
With her black outfits, eclectic jewelry, chic eyeliner, and smoky voice, you know Elisa Leser must be one of two things: either a jazz singer at a dimly lit underground nightclub or a cool-mannered photographer.
While I am unsure as to her singing ability and/or where these secret clubs might be hiding in Providence (perhaps in an off shoot of the Thayer bus tunnel!) I am confident in saying Elisa embodies the latter. She photographs scenes that range from bustling city street festivals to quiet coffee shops-her work artfully reveals the attitudes of the people she finds and the movement of their lives.
A native Parisian, it is the human element of cities that has always captured Elisa’s attention, and in turn her camera’s lens.
While her work clearly has a vision, Elisa refuses to define it, fearing the exclusion that comes out of such organization. Instead, she considers her work inclusive. From portraits to landscapes, color photography to black and white, film to digital, and back again, her work is borderless, much like her life.
Elisa started her craft at age fifteen when she attended a summer program in the states, at Yale. From there she went back to France and in her words “became that person who takes pictures of everything”.
Shying away from staged, studio type work, Elisa finds her greatest pictures hidden throughout the cities and towns of France and the United States. Her natural aesthetic and critical eye pulls out the extraordinary in the mundane and finds art in the details of her pictures.
When I asked her about her process of shooting and creating work, Elisa prefaced her sentiments by stating “at the risk of sounding totally hipster,” going on to explain that with her work “everything is organic.” And while this may sound a bit cliche, it’s also true. On any given day of shooting, she elaborates that it’s not about producing the correct studio conditions and perfectly selected subject, but simply about getting out there and capturing a moment. It is with this natural process that Elisa produces beautiful spontaneity in each image.