40th Birthday portrait, image by Fritz Liedtke

40th Birthday portrait, image by Fritz Liedtke

I'm Laura Valenti, founder of Light Atlas Creative. Light Atlas exists to help photographers transform their vision and lead nourishing, brave, wholehearted creative lives. 

Photography is so much more than a technical and mechanical exercise. It can be a life-changing practice that leads to powerful insight and personal growth. I'm passionate about what happens when we move beyond the technical groundwork and into the realm of deep art and craft. 

I love helping photographers become visionary artists - and that goes far beyond making pretty pictures. 


My teaching centers on clearing creative blocks and cultivating the insight and confidence necessary to make deeply authentic personal work. Life is richer when it's filled with creative energy. Making art is a way to invite healing and happiness into life, to delight in little moments of beauty, to give voice to hope, fear, love, loss, and all the exquisite tenderness and amazement of being human. 

I teach richly interactive online courses, work with emerging photographers in my creative mentoring program, present lectures to photo groups, curate exhibitions for galleries and festivals, write a blog about my photo and travel adventures, and photograph all the things that make my heart sing. 

Professional Background

I've spent about twenty years in the art world as a curator, arts director, and educator. I curate and jury exhibitions for galleries and photo festivals around the U.S. and abroad. I've also served as a reviewer at various portfolio review events (Houston FotoFest, Review Santa Fe, Photolucida, and many international reviews). I worked for fifteen years in the nonprofit arts world, most recently as Outreach Director at Photolucida, an organization that works to build connections between photographers and the gallery and publishing worlds. Before that, I was Program Director and co-Curator at Newspace Center for Photography, where I also taught black-and-white darkroom.    

Recent curatorial projects include shows at PhotoPlace Gallery, LightBox Photographic, Center for Fine-Art Photography, Photographic Resource Center, RayKo Photo Center, the Oregon Historical Society, and the Lishui International Photography Festival (China). I've also juried exhibitions for many different organizations over the years, including Center (Santa Fe), Photo District News, The Oregonian, Photo Center Northwest, Critical Mass, Rangefinder Magazine, and the KL Photography Awards (Malaysia), among many others.
 

Image by Douglas Beasley

Image by Douglas Beasley


Life, Love & Art

I spent my first fifteen years in Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. At five, I got my hands on my first camera and made all sorts of kooky images of my stuffed animals, family, and backyard. I took my first darkroom class in high school and was officially hooked. I'm attracted to gorgeous light and scenes that feel poetic, magical, or transcendent in some way. To me, photographs are little meditations, little moments of gratitude. I've been studying and practicing Zen for about twenty years, and have a deep interest in the intersection of mindfulness and the creative practice. I live with my sweetheart and a nutty, lovable German Shepherd in beautiful, rainy Oregon. My degree is from Reed College. Learn more about my photography and teaching philosophy on the Huffington Post.
 

My first photo album, age 5. Love the backwards crayon numbers.

My first photo album, age 5. Love the backwards crayon numbers.

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