Christina & Laurie are an up-and-coming couple of talented photographers and videographers based in Bristol who share a passion for the great outdoors and for each other. Bracing the strong winds and the capricious rain, we joined them at Dunraven Bay for a scenic hike along the dramatic Welsh coast and had a chat about their journey into photography, the importance of storytelling and their recent Icelandic adventure that ended up in a beautiful proposal under the Northern Lights. On our way back, we stopped by Boundary Art in Cardiff Bay to enjoy some of their amazing tea and to continue our conversation about their plans for the future.
Who are Christina and Laurie, the creative duo behind The Bohman?
The Bohman is a collaboration within photography focusing on weddings & elopements, lifestyle and travel.
Laurie grew up in the little historic village, Thornbury. Laurie is lover of long hikes, natural landscapes and symmetry. He also loves creating short films and writing stories around science fiction, his photographic work shares a sense of mythical tales, cinematography and narrative.
Christina grew up along the coastline of North Devon. A lover of the ocean, all things organic, Nordic and inspired by the natural world. Christina uses photography as diary when on adventures and a source for storytelling. Her personal work includes exploration within landscape and still life inspired by natural philosophy.
What are your most vivid childhood memories?
Christina: My most vivid childhood memory involves a lot of colour. I remember going on a school trip in primary school where the purpose was to educate you in mundane situations. I remember that there was a set of a street with houses and a shop. We learnt about what to do if there was a situation of a fire at home. I opened the door where there was fake smoke and lots of flashes of yellows, oranges and reds, all around me. I always see those flashes of colour.
Laurie: It’s difficult to recall something without a prompt, I usually experience a memory through something reminding me of it, either a particular smell, picture, noise etc. Most of my memories from a young age are fragmented, so I can only remember things vividly like the decorations on the wall of my Gran's house, or who was in line with me in my year 6 sports day, but I cannot bring forward the whole memory, unfortunately.
How did you two meet?
Christina: We met about 6 years ago at university. We were on a very small course, the total number of students started at about 25. I remember waiting with some of the other students before the induction lesson, and I saw Laurie waiting there, with bright yellow hair, I said hello, but after that he didn't talk to me much. When it came to the Christmas meal a few months later, I was the only one to turn up in a Christmas Jumper and he was the only person to compliment it, we soon became very good friends and spent time with each other every day since.
Laurie: She was the only girl to introduce herself to me when we started the course, her enthusiasm and kindness really stood out against everyone else, I didn't go to university looking for a partner but ended up with something far greater than the degree!
Tell us about your journeys into photography.
Christina: I always enjoyed being creative, I was actually highly interested in Marine Biology before I fell deeper in photographic practice. I was a little lost with direction. It wasn’t until my second year at university that I was assigned a documentary project. I found a little shack in the woods and took some pictures of it. My lecturer suggested I should knock on the door and see who lives there, so I did. I met a guy called Nat, he built the shack and lives entirely off the land. I spent some time documenting him and his progress. Eventually I became interested in photographing people. I spent time creating projects about people I meet and their lives with a very open view.
On my seventh person, I began to realise that putting trust in strangers can lead to dangerous situations. I was feeling very disenchanted, I wanted to do something a little quieter and started to work on still life. My first project with this is called 'The light from the Window'. I started documenting artefacts with the natural world exploring a renaissance technique called chiaroscuro.
Laurie: Mine started with actually not knowing what I wanted to do, my school wasn't very focused on finding what people excel in or enjoy, but more involved with teaching us the curriculum, and that was that... But it wasn't until I discovered Photography in my GCSEs that I found something I was good at, our art department was terribly underfunded, however, the teachers were enthusiastic, so I soon discovered a joy in the creative, especially the surreal.
I found myself researching very surreal and dystopian artists, and was more influenced by paintings than photography, but this was the beginning of a phase of mine where my photography took a rather dark route and ended in me creating rather disturbing pieces of work for a young teenager... Looking back on it, there's an aura of embarrassment about it really, I created art from a place where a lot of artists find inspiration; self loathing and oppositely narcissism. But thankfully University brought me out of this phase and instead of creating photography from my own aesthetic, I learned the true beauty of looking out into the world, finding things I don't understand, and focusing every piece of my art away from myself. Christina helped a lot with this, if anything, she has taught me most of what I know and currently practice.
Tell us a bit about your collaborative relationship. How do you influence each other and what are your strengths as a team of creatives?
We explored very different subjects at university, we started assisting each other on various shoots. Just simple things like studio lighting setups, carrying equipment, holding reflectors etc. Because we knew that each other were quite reliable at the time, it was very easy to fall into the routine of working with each other. When finishing, we relaxed with being so academic within photographic practice for the time being, and began exploring, traveling and creating fine art (hopefully) wedding photography.
A good strength is the bouncing of ideas, although we have different styles and influences, and sometimes they clash, when working within fine art wedding photography gives a nice mix of styles which can provide nice narratives.
What is the most frequent subject of your conversations?
Mostly travel, dreams, the future, and creative possibilities. We have lots of ideas and thoughts, we ought to write them down!
Do you remember the first photograph you took?
Christina: I went to Austria on a snowboarding trip with the school when I was 11. I had no phone (too young, slightly different generation), and wasn't trusted with a digital camera as they were a little old school and expensive at the time. So I was given 2 cheap disposable cameras from Boots. I used them both up taking photos of mountains only. I still have them!
Laurie: Definitely not, and I don't want to! My style and form have changed so much over the years that I've probably removed all trace of what I'm not proud of. I'm more focused on what's next rather than my old self. However it's probably of a friend of mine that's been manipulated through Photoshop to look like something out of a horror movie!
Who or what inspires you?
Christina: Alec Soth! My all-time photographic hero!
Laurie: Every piece of fiction that I enjoy, from mainstream Star Wars, Lord of The Rings, Blade Runner, Mad Max etc, to less known stories from video games and obscure Science Fiction writers. My inspiration never came from other photographers, it was always films, books, games, TV series etc. Photography has always been a way to recreate the other worlds I have experienced.
You both seem to love traveling and exploring the great outdoors. What are your favourite traveling locations? What’s next on your travel list?
Laurie: Bulgaria is next on the list! (After that short trips only, we have a wedding to save up for!) Iceland has been one of our favourites, considering we have been there twice and contemplating a third, however hiking to a frozen lake in Poland through to Slovakia was quite the adventure, and not to mention standing on the cusp of a mountain looking out over snow-capped peaks fading into the distance. As lovers of Fantasy and Science fiction, anywhere which seems as far from our world as possible becomes a favourite to us.
Christina has traveled a little more than I have, she actually pushed me to explore more! But she is so drawn to the ocean that we always seem to end scaling rocks along the coastline somehow!
How important is storytelling in your photography?
Christina: Very important! Storytelling conveys emotion, like music, books, and films. Storytelling in photography can be a collection of images or just one. By using storytelling in photography you can forget who or where we are and submerse yourself in someone else's world. I have always tried to attempt this in my personal work.
With our wedding photography, our clients actually told us that the use of storytelling in our wedding photography actually enables them to re-live their day, which is quite enlightening to hear.
Laurie: Paramount. Each image we take, for me, should convey a sense of happening. We live in a world where people perceive any imagery for a reason, and for me Photography is a way to belong to somewhere else, take your viewer to a distant land, distant world or far away dreamscape! Or bring them home to where you are comfortable. Storytelling isn't just “beginning, middle, and end”, it can be a single word! Or in this case a single photograph. How you compose an image will always dictate a timescale, and we always ask ourselves what happened before or after, or what's happening in that landscape etc. Telling a story is one of the best things you can do, it doesn't have to be long or exciting, but if you can move someone, somewhere for a brief moment, to feel inspired to love, and care for anything, you've achieved something truly great.
You also shoot couple sessions and weddings. How do you go about posing or directing your subjects?
Christina: We like to take them on an adventure, or they can take us, forget the camera exists and use it only as a small, but important tool to document the day.
Laurie: The feedback from our previous weddings have been that we feel like old friends to the bride and groom, and this has certainly been our way of connecting with people and composing them, if they believe in you, you'll have a better relationship with your subject.
What are some of your favourite shooting locations? What is it that draws you to them?
Christina: Minimal and organic. I grew up in North Devon which was one big playground for me. I am always drawn to going back, as each visit is different. Tides are always changing and there is never the same wave along the coastline.
Laurie: Anything grand! Usually a mountain landscape, snowy hills, sprawling desert. I never usually have favourite locations, we're always finding something new, and never somewhere that is easily accessible, so for me it's best not to have favourites; otherwise, I would have to keep going back to foreign countries, which would get expensive!
What is a must-have in your gear bag?
Christina: 35mm and a 50mm lens! Perfect for portraits.
Laurie: Our Pentax K1000. Film has become far more interesting to me because of its limitations, it exists as a physical memory rather than digital language. I still always use digital, but the Pentax is for certain moments.
You recently got engaged. Where and how did this happen? Who proposed to who and how unexpected was it?
Laurie: It happened in Iceland under the northern lights. After three failed attempts at different locations I was running out of options! Luckily the first time seeing the lights was so beautiful, I'm glad it happened then. I proposed to her, and I sense she knew I was being shifty, but as to what I'm not sure!
Christina: Laurie proposed to me! (Yay!) I felt there was a little abnormal tension on some of the days, but after chasing the Northern Lights all night, I was a little tired so I felt a little sheepish in the moment!
As wedding photographers and videographers yourselves, what are your expectations for your own wedding photography?
Christina: I'm looking for the overall presentation of the photography, and natural and organic imagery. As I really treasure imagery, I feel that photography is an important part of the day.
Laurie: Simplicity and minimalism, but still capturing everything that happens! I'd rather have 100 amazing photographs than 600 average ones.
Who do you admire in your industry and who do you follow for inspiration?
Christina: Instagram seems to really amaze me with travel photography! Day after day I see some beautiful work. It is so enlightening to see the way others see! However, I can easily say, (again) Alec Soth is my hero. I also had Jem Southam visit the university, he looked over my work and told me to keep going. He is also a photographer who inspired me.
Laurie: I try not to idolize people in our industry, I'm always overwhelmed by how huge other artists are, and often it can get rather disenchanting when you compare yourself to them. But in saying that I mainly follow cinematographers, and I especially admire those who work incredibly hard to get to where they are.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Christina: Keep exploring and don't give up ‒ Jem Southam.
Laurie: Saturate your professional media with quality content. Keep sharing your work, and keep learning to improve how you affect others. Never stop taking photos!
What does Bristol offer you as photographers and videographers?
Christina: New skills! I actually found that Bristol’s creativity is building and building, I have had a few creative internships from graphic design, to photography and videography, to my current creative 9 to 5 job.
Laurie: Exposure, and the ability to meet new people and clients. Bristol is a hub of creativity that is constantly expanding, however visually we have almost exhausted the city... Hence why we travel.
What does a typical day in your lives look like?
Christina: My week day involves waking up to a cup of tea from Laurie, I head to work for my 9-5 job, where I either work on a graphic design project, put together a digital magazine, filming video interviews or travel. It's never the same day. When I get home, I spend time editing my own personal work, developing projects or working on wedding photography. The weekend usually consists of hiking and surfing or photography leisurely or personal work.
What are some of your favourite places to hang out in Bristol?
Christina: You may find me checking out Arnolfini or Spike Island, there are some amazing art installations that change regularly. Also the Paintworks, sometimes there are some amazing gems that pop up there. Another favourite hang out is Clifton! There are some fantastic hidden shops like Papersmiths, it's a great spot for some inspiration fuel!
Laurie: Honestly, friends’ houses. Living and working around the city can really make you tired of seeing the same thing every day. What's more important is the company you surround yourself with. We often go to nice places like bars and restaurants, even the cinema, but memories and experiences are created with friends! Regardless of where you are!
If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be and why?
Christina: I could probably live in Finland! Surrounded by the great outdoors. I love Nordic culture and style, it really emphasises the importance of space and colour.
Laurie: There is nowhere particularly special to me, it's wherever can accommodate my needs, usually somewhere in the happening, somewhere interesting and new but safe and secure. However most importantly, somewhere close to the people I love, a long drive doesn't put me off, just as long as I can still reach friends and family!
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any upcoming projects?
Christina: I am currently working on a new still life project, focusing on the study of natural objects found in natural environments. I am moving away from digital with this project and using medium format. Hopefully, this process would slow my way of thinking about photography, to analyse and fine tune.
Laurie: To travel as much as we can and see everything that's possible! This is always an inspiration to me for my writing. Writing stories of my own is something that I'm starting to develop, it’s new to me and needs improving, but an upcoming project of mine is to write a full piece of fiction, my first Novel, enhanced with the photographs I take.
And now a Max Frisch question: What do you need in order to be happy?
Christina: Finding something that you're passionate about, it can lead you on many paths.
Laurie: In all honesty, Christina makes me happy.
Can you recommend us:
A book: Christina: That's a hard one! I'm currently reading Cowboys: The first Shooting 1992, by Dieter Blum, it's fantastic! / Laurie: The Fellowship of The Ring.
A song: Christina: Alt J ‒ Something Good / Laurie: Lazerhawk ‒ Distress Signal
A film: Christina: Tracks by John Curran / Laurie: Blade Runner.
A dish: Christina: Sakura Japanese Restaurant; their Chilli Squid is the best! Homemade dishes to recommend: Oven baked sea bass, it's currently our couple’s favourite. / Laurie: Chicken Teriyaki with rice and mixed vegetables! Simple, but full of flavour.