The Education of a Photograph with Erica Lauren

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Anyone who’s been to a show before knows the women being featured this month. Maybe not personally or professionally, but they know them. They’re the photographers who stand in front of the barricade with a camera around their neck, a bag of tricks in a safe place and their mind focused on capturing as many shots as they can within the first three songs of the set. From a girl who does it in her spare time to a mother to Erica Lauren, a woman who has been shooting since before she could legally drive.

Erica’s photos have been featured in top publications and while that may become nonchalant to some, she reveals later how she feels each and every time she sees her name alongside a photograph she’s taken in places like Paste Magazine. Now we’ll get to what she had to say about learning the craft, making it her own in Los Angeles and more.

Kendra: What’s something you learned in school about photography that you know in your heart you could not have learned without an education on the matter?

Erica: I’m grateful for the classes I took early on to learn the technical aspects of photography. I was able to work in the darkroom and print my own work. I wouldn’t have had the means to spend hours making mistakes and learning from them in the lab without school. I also had a professor who changed the way I viewed photography, even today I think about some of his lectures and how they apply to my life. He stressed the importance of light and required us to use a compass, to really see light- rather than just blindly pick up a camera and shoot. Though I didn’t need school to teach me how to “see” as a photographer, it made me more aware of what I was shooting.

Kendra: With that, what do you think all these advancements in technology have done for the art of it all?

Erica: I remember being told on my first day of art school that my term would likely be the last to shoot film. I couldn’t afford a digital camera at the time so I dreaded hearing that film would eventually die out. I will always have a soft spot for my Pentax K1000 but realistically you have to adapt to the digital world (in most cases) and I use my dslr 99% of the time now. One of the downsides I see with technology is phones out at shows. I miss the intimacy of going to see a band live and not having dozens of phones in the air attempting to capture images for social media. But to each their own.

Kendra: Have you ever felt any sort of bias when you’re shooting because you’re a woman?

Erica: Definitely. My skin is so much thicker now though, I’ve learned a lot from these experiences.

Kendra: Would you be able to share one photograph that best sums up your life at this current moment, be it one you took or one you appreciate…

Erica: I took this photo of my best friend Sara Scoggins on one of our photo adventures. I’ve been kind of restless, and I think this photo kind of represents my mood lately. I want to keep going new places with people I care about, explore, take pictures. Sky’s the limit.

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Kendra: What do you think of people who just happen to fall on some cash, buy a nice camera and then decide to put “photographer” on their Tinder profile?

Erica: If photography is something they are passionate about, more power to them. If they’re disguising themselves as photographers to prey on aspiring models (which is unfortunately common in LA), that’s awful. Swipe left, unmatch, block, etc.

Kendra: You often find your shots in places like Paste Magazine. Is it still as thrilling as the last every time your work is published in print or online?

Erica: I get so stoked every single time. I never want to lose that feeling either. I’ve been taking pictures since I was 15, and I feel just as excited about it as I first did.

Kendra: What advice do you have for people looking to get that same sort of exposure for their work?

Erica: I feel like I’m still just learning as I go. Working hard and being nice to people is what I try to live by. Take pictures you are stoked on and use the internet to your advantage to contact who you want to work for.

Kendra: If your latest group of film had a soundtrack, what five songs would best represent the shots found on it?

Erica: The last band I shot was AJJ! I would pick…
Growing Up” – AJJ
Freedom1313” – Cayetana
All My Home” – Restorations
Rise Above” – Black Flag
Everybody Does” – Julien Baker, just because I listen to these artists incessantly when it’s time to edit photos.

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