If there was ever such a thing as complex simplicity, it shows itself in the photography of Lauren Parker. A visual artist who entrances us with photographic stories reminiscent of fairy tales with an elegant flair, Lauren puts her heart into her art, and in turn, she can effortlessly capture a piece of yours.
The Lauren Parker Interview
Hi, Lauren! Tell us more about you and what has inspired your style.
One of the most influential things in my life has been the fact that I’m a military kid. I owe so much of my upbringing and curiosity for the world to that lifestyle, and all the good and bad aspects of it have really shaped me into who I am. I spent much of my childhood living in Alaska, from which stems my love of nature and adventure and magic.
Another thing that has been hugely influential in my life is the 365 project (where you take one photo every day for an entire year), which I impulsively began on January 1, 2010, after having no previous knowledge of what a photographer was. I didn’t even own a digital camera when I started, and I couldn’t really tell you why that idea popped into my head or why I was so adamant to do the project. But it really changed my life, and if I hadn’t given into that impulse decision, my life would be vastly different today.
Your photographs are so full of wonder and imagination. How do keep yourself so original and strong in your creative vision?
I recently had a studio visit with artist Brandon Waybright, and he said something to me that has really changed everything I do when it comes to my artistic practice. He said to look at all the things that I’m not supposed to do as a photographer, or as a sculpter, or as a painter, etc. and then do those things. Basically, push the art one step further than what is expected of me. Honestly, it’s hard to keep myself original – especially when it seems like everything has been done. But I’m excited to take this piece of advice and see what new things are possible.
“Wonderful vibe captured in her work. Much of it has a mystical feel, that believably captures another reality. Very potent fiction.” — Sean Haggerty. Creative Director, Sasquatch Agency
Is there a specific process you use for conceptual shoots? How do the ideas for these shoots come about?
I actually wrote a blog post for this several years ago here. Please don’t judge my writing too harshly! :). A lot of those things I still do today. Another thing I would add is that sometimes for photos, I really have no idea what I want to do with an image conceptually until I bring it into Photoshop and mess around with it. Or I had an idea while I was shooting, but something new happens when I process it.
You just have to be really open to whatever comes your way. Another thing that I’ve been learning to combat as I grow older is the inner critic. I always put too much pressure on myself thinking that I have to make every idea perfect, when in reality, there’s no obligation for anyone to see whatever I create. Not every idea will be the best idea, but the important thing is to create regardless.
What are the main details you focus on when representing the personality of musicians in images?
Definitely the naturalness, purity, and joy of music. Sometimes the seriousness of it. I just want to photograph artists in their natural element and really show what you could call the spirituality of music.
Do you have any creative solutions when it comes to unexpected weather conditions?
If there’s no option to reschedule, you just have to roll with it. Sometimes I can fake it in photoshop. If it’s an overcast day, I can usually fake it to look sunny. But I also have to be okay with photos taking a different direction and potentially not turning out the way I want them. And that’s okay too!
“For me, photography is a means of empowerment because I can show the beauty in everything.” – Lauren Parker
What are you shooting with? Any preferred lighting equipment?
I shoot with a Canon 5d Mark iii and a Sigma 50 mm 1.4 lens (and sometimes the kit lens for client photos), and natural light! Though I do love playing around with softboxes. The best light is the available light.
I loved your blog post “Everything is Connected.” Do you find this to be most true when you meet and photograph couples and weddings?
Oh definitely! Especially when I see the same guests at multiple weddings. It’s fun to see just how small the world is and how we are all brought together by love. I seriously adore all my couples, especially for trusting me to share in such intimate moments in their lives. When I share a connection and experience like that, it definitely holds a special place in my heart.
What do you consider the essential element of portraiture?
As my photo professor John Bennett would say, “It’s all about the light!” You can have the greatest, most innovative idea in the world, but if you have terrible lighting, the image is going to look terrible.
Do you have a favorite image or photo session at the moment?
Right now, probably my most recent engagement shoot. The couple was just so much fun and they were so willing to do whatever it took to get a great image. I love it when my clients believe in my vision just as much as I do.
“Lauren’s body of work is a cohesive collection that is not only beautifully crafted but also tells an interesting story. Her images are mysterious and leave me wondering what might happen next. This is the type of imagery that really embodies the entire art of photography for me.” — Kimberly Warner. Film Maker, Photographer, Portland