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Interview: Laura Austin

The curator discusses Everyone's a Photographer, a group show of Lomography images

by CH Contributor in Culture on 02 November 2012

by Vivianne Lapointe

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Photographer Laura Austin has many tricks up her sleeve. Based in San Clemente, California, she got her start as the online editor for Snowboarder Magazine, a gig that gave her the chance to travel and refine her craft in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. As the winner of Lomography's "Win Your Dream Space" competition, Austin has been invited to curate an interactive photo show to be displayed at the Lomography Los Angeles Gallery space in West Hollywood for the month of November 2012. She hand-selected an eclectic group of talented artists and friends—Corey Smith, Jared Eberhardt, Jeremy & Claire Weiss, Natas Kaupas, Ian Ruhter, Danny Zapalac, Jason Lee Parry, Chad Muska and herself—to go wild with Lomography cameras and exhibit some new original work. We had a chance to discuss with the show, titled "Everyone's a Photographer," with the young media maven and learn more about her creative process.

What was your vision when you found out you had a chance to curate this space?

When I heard Lomography was offering up their gallery space I wanted to take advantage of the network of creative people I have around me who I am personally inspired by in hopes that they could do the same for others. So my idea was to supply eight different artists (including myself) with a Lomography camera, give them a month to shoot, then have a show based around these photos and the cameras they shot them with. However, the twist is that the show is interactive in the sense that I will have an open section for the public to contribute photos they shot with a Lomo camera throughout the month that I have the space. So people can come in, see the curated show, which cameras the photographers used, decide they want to buy that camera and go shoot too. Then they can submit the photos for a chance to be hung in the show and put in the book I will be creating over the course of the month to be sold at the closing party.

How did you choose this roster of artists?

As I said before, I wanted to pick people in my circles of friends that I have personally been influenced by creatively. My professional background is mostly in action sports but I wanted to pick an eclectic mix of people knowing that the more diverse the group was, the wider audience the project could appeal to. I also didn't want to only pick people who were primarily photographers knowing that artists from different mediums would bring something new to the table. So within the group I have skate legends, directors, commercial advertising photographers, painters, etc. I decided to call the show "Everyone's a Photographer" for the sarcastic reason that with photography being so accessible these days everyone thinks they are a photographer—but also in a more genuine sense that with companies like Lomography, everyone has the chance to be.

Tell me about your creative process once you got the cameras. What did you shoot with? Where did you shoot and why?

Well, first I allowed each artist to pick a Lomography camera and film they wanted to use. And once the camera was in their hands, I gave them complete creative freedom and I told them to shoot whatever they wanted with it. I personally used the Lubitel 166+ because I'm a fan of square medium format images. I mainly explored around the area I live in Orange County because a large amount of my time was devoted to actually planning the opening, but it also created a fun challenge to make places that I see as ordinary, interesting.

Why do you like analog photography?

I love the imperfections you get with shooting film, plain and simple—from the grain to the light leaks, etc. When you get so used to the immaculate images that digital cameras put out, you can really appreciate the inconsistencies of shooting analog. For my images I decided to get a little wild and abstract, mixing and overlapping images just because I had the chance to do that all within the camera as opposed to taking a ton of time to achieve a similar look in Photoshop.

What is your favorite Lomography camera?

Hard to say since I haven't used them all but I was a really big fan of the Lubitel 166+ I used for this project because nothing about that camera was automatic. I have heard really good things about their LC-A camera if you are looking for a higher quality point-and-shoot, and I also want to get my hands on the Belair X 6-12 camera they just came out with—that thing is beautiful.

The opening party will be held on 2 November 2012 from 7-10PM at the Lomography Los Angeles Gallery Store with the show running through the end of November.

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