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The Camera Phone and the Pro Photographer, with Lauren Lemon

From: iPhone Photography, from Shooting to Storytelling

Video: The Camera Phone and the Pro Photographer, with Lauren Lemon

Lauren Randolph> I'm going to talk a little bit about my photography and then how I use mobile photography a bit differently. So I've always had a passion for portraiture. I shoot a lot of self-portraits. I like kind of creating these alternate realities, kind of putting people in scenarios that are part of this big made-up world. Like I like to look at all of my photos, as maybe a small fragment of like a big of made-up world I have in my imagination. So some of you may know this man, his name is Ryan Freitas. He is the co-gounder of about.me.

The Camera Phone and the Pro Photographer, with Lauren Lemon

Lauren Randolph> I'm going to talk a little bit about my photography and then how I use mobile photography a bit differently. So I've always had a passion for portraiture. I shoot a lot of self-portraits. I like kind of creating these alternate realities, kind of putting people in scenarios that are part of this big made-up world. Like I like to look at all of my photos, as maybe a small fragment of like a big of made-up world I have in my imagination. So some of you may know this man, his name is Ryan Freitas. He is the co-gounder of about.me.

And this was a picture that I took for him. So I'm very inspired by people. I knew I was going to do a shoot with him. So I kind of pulled upon his professionalism, things around his house. With the little bit I knew about him before I met him, and we were able to come up with this picture pretty much on the fly. So, yeah, I'm very inspired by characters, personalities. I like to pull like one little aspect of someone and kind of build upon that. I used to play a lot of dress up and make believe as a child that I feel that much of my work is maybe still influenced by that, using fantasy and fairytales or even sometimes weird quirky scenarios that I just know would make a very good visual.

So much of my photography that I shoot for myself and for work takes time, takes preparation, a lot of planning and thought goes into each photo, whether it's planning with a model, whether it's coordinating location, setting up lights. I don't really have the professional-- I only have the on-the-go lifestyle kind of portraitures shooting though, but that's where the iPhone comes in a lot for me. I do use mobile photography a bit differently, but a lot of times I'm using it at the same time.

Maybe I'm shooting with my digital camera, my film camera, but everywhere I go, I have my phone on me. So it kind of tends to be my quick go- to for something that like, that decisive moment that you see. It's shoot, grab it out, pull it, shoot it, you're good. I've always documented my friends and my adventures and my travels though. And I was always getting asked where people could see these images. They wanted to put it on their MySpace profile. They wanted to use it for their Facebook. So I started putting it on Flickr or at my blog, so they could just grab them.

And it was through this that I kind of began to realize the power of sharing these photos, because quickly something I shot of one person could be then spread through a whole circle or a network that I'm not involved in. So all of sudden the power of the Internet and these quick visuals being able to be shared, it's amazing how quickly you can get just one image out there. So I love making photos and creating an image. I do like documenting the process as well. These are some images that I posted to my blog on Tumblr.

During our process, this is a collaboration that I did with two fellow Los Angeles artists, Mary Costa and Jessica Kucinskas, and we kind of had this weekend-long project that we were doing. So I was shooting with my phone, letting people in on our weekend of work. So when I shared this image which was still just one image out of a larger flipbook that we made, a lot of people could then see, "Oh, I remember them making the paper, the paper boat.

I was wondering what they were doing with all those blue sheets." So I used my mobile photography to kind of let people in and watch our process. This was a picture that I posted to my blog right as I was getting in the car to go to Phoot Camp in 2010. This is my packing list, which includes things like streamers, red cups, a Waldo outfit, a lot of photo equipment. For people who maybe didn't know what Phoot Camp was, I'm sure they looked at this list and were very intrigued of where I was going for the weekend.

If they did know what Phoot Camp was, then I'm sure they knew these were props, things that I was going to use for the photos, so they were probably looking forward to see what I was going to do with these things. Phoot Camp 2010, I did a collaboration with Ryan Schude and this is the first part of that image, which I was then able to share after we got back. People could then maybe find Waldo, they could find the red cups, they could see these things that they maybe have seen the weeks before on the list. Basically, once again, lets people in on my process. They could maybe feel like they were in on the brainstorming session.

It's kind of like the behind-the- scenes of the photo shoot without actually having to sit there and shoot while I'm making this photo. Before Phoot Camp actually we-- before we made that pool photo, we had gone out and this is an image that I shot with my cell phone that Ryan and I used to kind of plan out where we're going to put 28 people. Once all the content was live on phootcamp.com, I shared this image on my blog to then say, hey, go check out the final image that this turned into.

This was our organization, our thought process, like a glimpse of our creative brainstorming. And so then they can kind of look at this and compare it to this image and kind of see how we worked that way. So this is the second part of that collaboration with Ryan Schude, also using a lot of the creatives and photographers that go to Phoot Camp who are still here today. Once again, using the same props that they saw on the list, a lot of the same empty beer bottles and things from the previous picture.

I like to say that it takes people, or they say it takes people three times before they retain or remember something. That's what you were told in high school while you were studying, so I figure why not apply the same to photography or your blog, except maybe being a little bit more creative instead of just blasting the same image three times. Show different ways to share it. So maybe someone missed my post of the scout photo with the drawings on it. Maybe they even missed when I posted the final image that linked to phootcamp.com. But these are some pictures that I posted to my Instagram, when we were making prints, the work-up in a gallery show, then when it was printed in a magazine.

I like to put "look at my blog" as like an ongoing timeline of my work, which using Instagram photos or mobile photos, filling in the gaps between posting the final work. These things were informative to get people to maybe raise their interest to go actually look at my website, to see what photos I was talking about that got printed and published. So these are pictures that I posted during installation of a photo show. I used these photos as my way of promoting the date, the time, the location.

Posted them to Instagram, posted to my blog, posted them to Facebook, kind of just spreading the word using these pictures. This is the image that I had in that show which you saw hanging on the wall. And sure enough, that night someone came up to me and they said, "Hey, I read about the show on your blog, I was happy to come out and meet you." Now, me and that person are Facebook friends, and I pretty much invite them to any and every event. So, thanks to mobile photography and getting the information out there, this person was able to come, and we've kind of been able to meet in-person and become friends.

I'm not trying to say to only limit your mobile photography enjoyment to just work-related things if you're a photographer. It's important to show the personal and let people in on your personal life, because people want to know other people. That's the wonderful thing about these social networking sites, is getting to know other people that you wouldn't have known maybe otherwise through these visual images that we're sharing. As a photographer, I feel like I could look at Instagram kind of like actors or comedians would use Twitter.

People don't necessarily follow these celebrities just because they like their movies, but because it gives them a chance to know these people. And this way like when I'm posting images of traveling, I love getting tips from people when I'm in their hometown, of letting me know what restaurants to go to. It kind of gives them a way to interact with me, which I definitely wouldn't have otherwise. And people are going to pay more attention to someone they know, versus someone that they just see pretty images of. If I'm just constantly sharing my portfolio work, people are going to be interested in that.

But if they know me and want to know what work I'm continually making, they're going to kind of follow through that way. So this is a picture I used using the Pano app and the Cross Process app, while I was in Bulgaria this last summer. I was explaining that I was there for a conference called Photo Vacation, to give a little workshop, have a seminar, host an exhibition. But people knew that I was out of my comfort zone, in a place where people spoke little English. But they also-- I was letting to know that I was there to make a photo.

Also with Ryan Schude, we were there and we made-- during our workshop, we made a big photo using volunteers and people there. So I posted this little sneak peek of our print, because I figured a girl in a sexy red dress didn't peek people's interest, I don't really know what would. And this is the final image that we shared once we returned. So, those who follow my blog or maybe follow me, those who know me through these social networks, already kind of new the background story.

So I didn't necessarily have to fill people in, if I just wanted to share the image without having a big long blog post with it. These were all-- this was shot in Bulgaria, these were all people that came up to our workshop. These were people that we needed a translator to talk to. So maybe it gave people a little bit more of appreciation for what they saw the final image versus just coming home from a trip and posting something without any context behind it, of what else we were doing there. So I use mobile photography as a way to kind of give little hints and inklings of things to come.

What someone-- this is a picture that I posted and I said, "I just got a shipment from eBay." And people know I'm a photographer, they know I'm buying random things all the time for props, and maybe they start coming up with an idea of what they think I'm going to do with this. Maybe they wonder what I'm going to do with hundreds of bananas, gallons of paint. But at least then they're engaged in your work. They're thinking about what you're going to do, what you created and if they're totally wrong, then it still got them involved.

This was an image that I made this last summer also at King College which is on the border of Tennessee and Virginia. And a lot of these are students and a lot of them know my work through Instagram. They know my work through my blog and through Flickr. So they were excited to see me come and watch my actual photo-making process. Many of these people were shooting photos while they were waiting for me to set up and everything. I totally encouraged that as long as I wasn't actually trying to shoot an image. But these people were then interacting and they're sharing images from my shoot, and maybe someone hadn't heard of me, but then knowing these people who are at this photo, they'll go look. It's kind of like an ongoing thing that I figured.

The more people sharing, the more people talking about your work, the more people interacting, the better. This was another picture that I posted after installation in a group show in Los Angeles. This is a collaboration between Collins Schude, Ryan Schude, and myself. And also at this show, someone came up and met for the first time that they had seen my work online and recognized my images through mobile photography and stuff like that and they were excited to come put a face to the images.

So, basically even if just one person comes out, then that one person maybe they'll shoot a cell phone photo, hopefully they'll tag a location, and then one of their friends will come out. It's kind of this big wonderful web of up-to-date, constant visual information. We are all very visual people. We do like seeing things and maybe not reading a bunch of information. But if something catches your eye enough, then maybe you'll read the caption, which is where information about upcoming events and stuff can kind of come in.

So that's basically what I love about mobile photography and Instagram and this kind of constant way of sharing, because it puts a camera in everyone's hands. It's now, everyone is looking, everyone is seeing, everyone is getting better composition, looking at light differently. The cell phone and mobile photography has made this like fast-paced world. Maybe it's made everyone to slow down to stop and shoot their feed on the street or to stop and enjoy their coffee before they drink it.

If anything, it just kind of lets everyone a moment to enjoy the pretty things. So if people are always looking, then they're always learning. And I don't think anyone would complain about a higher influence of the arts and visual in anyone's life. So thanks to mobile photography, now everyone is kind of in that without being forced to learn about the arts or whatever. Richard Koci Hernandez> Well, thank you so much, Lauren! This is awesome! Lauren Randolph > Thank you!

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