I have a few friends who are in a band called Octahedron. I've been working with them for a while doing some graphic design stuff, but now I have photos of them that I would like to share with the world in light of their placing in the The Recording Conservatory of Austin's Unsigned Artist Competition. They have the chance to win a grand opportunity, and I would encourage you to help them out, by simply watching 2 of their songs on YouTube.
You are all such lovely people. Thanks for stopping by.
More to come.
Sometimes it is nice to hear this from someone other than your mother, because although she's great, she will always think you're incredible. And there are people out there, like me, who adore you, and we think you're the coolest, nicest, best idea since sliced bread kind of person, and we don't say it enough.
So I made you this graphic, because you need to know that someone thinks you're pretty neat, in every sense of the word. Okay, maybe not like neat as in clean, or maybe you're super organized, I don't know, I just know for a fact, a verified fact, that you are a beautiful human being, and I just couldn't sit around with that on my mind; I needed to do something about it. So I got up (or maybe I was sitting on the couch, but the details about me aren't important, this is about YOU), and I decided to bravely tell you... through the internet, in the comfort of my own home... that I think you're lovely.
You've got talents and good looks that you will do amazing things with that will take the world by storm. And although you may not believe that all the time, I sure do. I also have to mention that you've got a great taste in music, a laugh that I wish I got to hear more often, and the spirit of a champion. So go out and keep doing what you do-have more of those meaningful late-night conversations, create more art, sing more songs, be inspired to love yourself.
I've been thinking lately about how I could do some good for the people I know, for the encouraging community that has given me love and life. Maybe you'll feel empowered to post this on someone's wall who you think is incredible from afar. Because friendship and support are beautiful things, like you. Except you're not a thing, you're a person, who I think is great.
We're excited to announce our first giveaway.
Enter below before Tuesday, April 15th for your chance to win!
Your Lauren's Lens Box will feature:
- One Lauren's Lens Shirt (Navy and Pink or Black and Gray) Any Size
- One Signature Lauren's Lens Wooden Flash Drive (2 GB)
- 3 Lauren's Lens Poster Designs, Printed on Card Stock
- 2 of Each of the Three Lauren's Lens Sticker Designs (6 Stickers Total)
Before I knew this simple command, I was exporting every photo I worked on in Lightroom, opening and editing it in Photoshop and importing it into Lightroom again, only to export it to my desired website moments later. This was a very messy way of doing things, and it made for a confusing, cluttered computer filing system.
So save yourself from that by doing this… It is SO much easier; I promise.
1. Open a Photo in Lightroom
2. Go to Photo>Edit in>Adobe Photoshop CS6
3. Save your edited photo in Photoshop, and it will appear in Lightroom with your Photoshop edits
Yay! You did it!
P.S. If you're using the newest version of Lightroom, some Elliptical adjustments won't transfer to Photoshop. So do those adjustments last.
So recently I've been working with Jonathan Powel, a Chicago-based photographer looking to give his company a makeover. It is coming along nicely, but I thought I would share some of the rejected business card templates with the world, because sharing is caring, and I love caring.
I'd also like to mention that I am completely on board with this whole vertical business card trend. It is about time we mixed things up.
I entered my freshmen year of high school with an unabashed love for language. I left wondering what the purpose of literature was- why was it that I found my final literature class dull, bland, pedestrian? Had I lost interest in that which I once loved? Had the wonder faded? Was there nothing new to read? Were those beautiful strings of words I found in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Kurt Vonnegut's Look at the Birdie no longer beautiful pieces of art because of the 18th century letters I had to read my senior year?
No. Art was still art. But the pieces in my senior literature class failed to awaken anything within me. Literature needs to enlighten me, shake my sense of reality, or force me to endure a slow, artistic story of an individual, whether it be through a broken, beautiful love or an insomniac's sleepless night. I search for passionate, innovative artists with something to say and new ways to say it. As Wordsworth would say-"[m]y heart leaps up" on these rare occasions when I stumble upon something that changes my perspective.
In the same way that literature needs to speak to me, art also needs to stir something within me.
My photography mentor always told me that my art shouldn't be just something pretty to look at, that's not truly art. Turning in pictures of flowers again and again; I was missing the point: It needs to evoke emotion. Maybe it needs to make the viewer feel uncomfortable, like a picture of a hamburger with gray meat that is sweating with grease in a dimly lit room. That makes me want to cringe. It might not be beautiful, but it is real, and not only is it real, but it evokes something out of the soul that is crucial to our existence.
Whatever emotion is brought to the surface, it is a reaction on which we need to focus. Why do I feel a certain way when I look at a particular picture? Why do I feel free when I see this photo? Why do I feel uncomfortable when I look at this one? It gives us insight into who we are as people. We're human, and art gives us a way to share our humanity with others. It can make us feel alive, connected, and understood, especially when we see something that innately and automatically makes sense to us.
Some things we just won't connect with, for example those pieces of literature I read my senior year, but I have to wonder why I don't connect with those articles. I have to explore myself to better create photographs, and perhaps expand my palate for those dense pieces of literature.
Art isn't just a pretty face or catchy tune. It's incredibly important to have beautiful things to enjoy, but true art will find something in you and awaken it for the first time, over and over again.
Get $50 off your sitting fee and get a free photo book with every session.
Don't you just love Fall? We sure do!
As I made the short walk from my room to the bathroom, moving from my bed for the first time in four hours, on a Friday night mind you, I felt the oh so familiar ache to create art, but it was, as it often is, overruled by exhaustion.
It occurred to me at that moment that my vision, to create a living, breathing portfolio had as of late become an elderly woman on a respirator, barely living and quite pathetic. So I dug deep. Why is this happening to my dream? What am I doing wrong?
The truth is I haven't found exactly what I was looking for here. I came here, to college, hopeful for good health, both mental and physical. I was looking for a place I could call my new home, and although I have adjusted to surviving here, I wouldn't say I'm thriving. All extras have been ignored, I sleep, eat, go to class. Nothing too extravagant. Friends? Not many. Art? Haven't made much. Extracurricular activities? Forget about it. But just because this place isn't perfect (although I am learning to love it, for any of you concerned about my well-being) why should I stop doing what I love?
I look around- the suite is empty; I am alone, and I have a craving to create art. Why am I not pulling out my tripod and creating some dramatic, dark art like I usually would do on weekends back home? I have more freedom here, so why am I not using it? I suppose there are a few reasons.
1. The luxury of having my own space is gone. There are other girls here, girls who sometimes bring more girls or even guys over. I can't just be running around in random outfits making weird faces and poses trying to get the perfect picture without getting some weird looks.
2. As my dishes pile up in my room, I realize I can barely keep up with daily life. I am doing a decent job. The laundry gets done every so often, I go to the doctor, make my own meals, and sometimes I even make my bed, but that leaves little to no energy for the things I love. Most days I nap once or twice at least two hours each, and I sleep a good eight to twelve hours at night, and I'm in my pajamas by 6:00pm on average. I'm sure if we did the calculations we would find there isn't much room for anything else in that kind of schedule... I'm not sure why I thought I would be able to continue creating art like I had been for the past two years without the support system I had back home. I have been inspired here, but I've also been tired.
3. I also don't have all of my clothes and random trinkets from home. I've realized that when I was home, if I wanted to take pictures in a bathtub or search the attic for clothes, I could. There were always things around that could be used to make great photos, not to mention the great playground of a yard we had. (Unrelated side note: I miss having a kitchen. If you have one, don't take it for granted)
4. Another thing. I don't have the same resources I had back home.When I feel like creating art, at about 10pm, the lighting in my room is dismal at best, a pitiful florescent bulb next to my closet and my small 25 watt lamp. My fancy soft boxes and backdrop are gathering dusts back home, and it breaks my heart.
The chaos of adjusting to college has created that ache within me, it is almost constant; I need to be creating art. My body is telling me that I need to, but the chaos that causes that feeling is overwhelming and I have been napping and studying to soothe the ache, but I know deep down that is not what I need to be doing.
Some people I know do incredibly well in college, artistically. They meet the right group of people, they find the right places, they get out of their dorm enough to explore, and they become greater artists. I hope that happens to me eventually, because at this point in time, I feel like I'm fading, giving into the stress of studying instead of extinguishing it with art. My only hope is going home, where I have several studies scheduled, and hopefully I will come back with some things to edit.
It is a real struggle. Navigating life as a student and life as an artist. My heart urges me to explore; my exhaustion tells me to sleep, my ache longs for me to create.
Just something to consider if you're a young artist about to go off to college. It changes everything.
A short introduction. Am I the only one who feels that art is the most beautiful struggle to ever strike an individual? It can be an ugly feeling. It can be dark and quite debilitating, just look at Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway. These two authors blessed the world with their breath-taking art, but this trait that allowed them to create great works, ate away at them, so much so that they ended their lives all too soon. I was recently talking to one of my friends who is struggling to decide which direction to take her artistic ability. We agreed that the art major sounds easy, but emotionally it is quite difficult. The constant questions of doubt. The shame over past works. The struggle to create new ones when uninspired. I find that it is truly the most difficult thing to balance the incessant feeling of self-doubt with the desire to create something new and to try and satisfy yourself as well as others in that endeavor. So is it just easier to give in, sell out, and become a cliche?
It is bittersweet, finding one's artistic niche.
On the one hand, it simplifies the complicated artistic process I discussed earlier. It takes the stress out of this process, because the territory you're working in isn't new. Once you have found your niche, you have developed your style, and people can recognize your work quite easily. That can be great. It can also be boring.
But it's so easy. It's so tempting; we all chase after it without thinking too much. It's a very desirable thing to acquire, especially if photography is less of a hobby and more of a career. That being said, I've watched a number of my once-favorite photographers find themselves stuck in a commonplace, trite, and prosaic rut and run out of new material and fresh inspiration. It is quite tragic.
No one wants to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, but are we willing to sacrifice the artist within us, limit our audience and clientele to such a small number, that we emotionally suffer in the long run?
Personally, I'd rather wander around in my field, dabbling in everything that tickles my fancy, and be as anxious as ever from the stress of the creative process, than to find myself one day, stuck in something I hate.
For some reason, I get the feeling that photographers don't realize they are setting themselves up for eternal strife until it is too late. I have been striving to find one myself recently, and that is why I feel moved to write this, to consider, before diving in too deep into one area of photography or art in general, whether or not I really want this. It is like I can see this hindering process taking place with each photo I choose to take, but I can't do anything about it. I must mourn the loss of potential futures wherein I could have become someone who created something else.
I don't think many people realize what a struggle this can be for many new artists. I don't think many new artists realize the clean slate they have before them, whether they perceive this as a challenge or a blessing, that is for them to decide.
Maybe it is like we all just need an artistic cleanse every once in a while.
One of my good friends Misha Hettie, co-founder of the up-and-coming website Photographie J'Adore, featured ten of my photographs on this site a week ago. It was generous of her to let me be one of the first artists to display work in this way; I am truly honored! Not only am I so excited about this news, but I am also so grateful for the kind words she had to say about my photos: "Her work is soulful and has a rare depth that most adults wish they could capture."
Please check it out and visit this site often to see up and coming artists and amazing photographs!
At the end of my junior year of high school, I started a 365 project, where I tried to take and post a picture every day for an entire year. Although I fell behind countless times, and ultimately came to a screeching halt at Photo #100, I created a few good quality photos that I am still proud of today.
My first real piece of art was an image I call, "Because Society Says So." Some of you may remember it. I had manipulated several pictures of my hands and face and flattened them. I edited my eyes and lips, added more makeup, removed some flyaway hair, and increased the size of desirable features while making my face appear thinner and more symmetrical. The final product was this:
It is a rather dramatic and satirical photograph capturing what society demands of girls in the modeling industry and women in general. On a very basic level, I wanted to point out the absurdity of what we see as beautiful. It is all smoke and mirrors; it is all fake. This was my first self portrait, my very first piece of successful social commentary, raking in a good eighty-some-odd likes on Facebook; I was happy. I went on to make more work like this in hopes of someone being intrigued by my messages and taking them to heart, or better yet, taking action because of them.
From the start, my purpose was to expose some truth, shed some light on the dark places on which we tend not to focus, and make sure that everyone knew that everything we observe is not reality.
I often noted with my work how robotic life felt to me. Wake up, go to school, come home, do homework, feel completely drained, and then go to sleep. It was repetitive, and I thought I would point that out, because I felt like it was something we could all relate to. We have felt that before. That sense of being out of touch with your own humanity... or maybe it was just me.
In many ways, as I struggled with my health, both mental and physical, I used photography as an artistic outlet, something in my life I could have control over. I tried to show people that everything is not what it seemed, and even "perfect" girls could break down or fall apart. I often tried to show people that I wasn't feeling quite right without coming right out and saying it.
Over the past year I have realized that authenticity, or real life, is what I have been trying to capture all along. At first I did so with some surreal images, but now I am going to attempt to do so with images of every day life. It may sound boring, but this study is perhaps one that is closest to my heart. Although all of my studies are truly important to me, this one makes me feel empowered as an individual, to no longer create, but rather to look, watch, observe life, and simply document it.
Make a documentary. That was on my bucket list: it was a lifelong dream of mine, and I am hoping some day I will get to finish one. I was working on documenting the intriguing similarities and discrepancies between the outlooks of elderly men and women in an old folks home and young children from my church. I had a blast doing it, but I never got to finish it due to some unforeseen circumstances.
But I see this as my chance to prove that photos can be just as powerful and thought-provoking as a moving picture film. I believe the things I will find on this journey will give us all some insight into human nature and expose some unattractive realities that we must all consider. Art speaks to our humanity, it pulls on our heartstrings and calls us to slow down and pay attention to our actions. I am hoping that these photos will not only evoke a sense of enlightenment, sympathy, and catharsis, but also ones of laughter, joy, and understanding.
So here is to the start of something new and real.
"Your photos provoke a stirring from deep within, of the timelessness of the common experience we each share. Kind of like the colors of the tonal spectrum musicians use as a palate to craft sonic art. Congratulations for your work." -Andy P.
"Lauren Chu is a self-taught photographer from San Antonio, TX. Her work is soulful and has a rare depth that most adults wish they could capture and get this – she’s just barely old enough to buy a lottery ticket." -Misha H.
"My photoshoot with Lauren was amazing. She let my sister and I put our own personalities into the shoot -- location, style, etc. However, she also added her own incredible artistic direction, and therefore the photos turned out amazingly. I would recommend her for photos of any kind. She made the experience fun and worthwhile with her direction and ability to capture one's own unique style. It was a blast and truly worth while!" -Melissa S.
"In past photo sessions, I have felt uncomfortable or unable to relate with the photographer, but Lauren made the experience relaxing and enjoyable. Not only is Lauren's work absolutely wonderful, she was able to capture the essence of our relationship without looking too staged. Her photos are pieces of art that I will certainly treasure, and I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for a photo session of any kind." -Victoria I.
"Lauren was awesome. During our photoshoot, there was no awkward or forced moment- Lauren encouraged me to be myself. She has a true knack for capturing the beauty of the moment. I would recommend her for any type of photoshoot. Her photography is a combination of her professional opinion with her wonderful enthusiasm for art. Her creativity, sweet personality, and talented ability gave me a lovely experience that I won't forget!"
Photography is a very interesting process.
One might imagine that the final product, what we'd call a masterpiece or a beautiful piece of art, and the creative process, the frustrating and heart-wrenchingly painful process, share many things in common, but the fact is, this is not the case.
I find that there exist two worlds of photography-the world of the ideas in your mind or the picture we all see at the end, and the grueling work that happens in between. There is the clean, edited collection of three photos that we present on our websites, and then there are the two-hundred-and-sixty other photos of messy, blurry, missed targets and miscommunications. The struggle of the confused artist searching for the perfect lighting, setting, and moment is mostly forgotten by the time the final picture is made.
Photographers are often trying to warp reality, and they often do, by leaving out certain parts of a scene and photoshopping in others. For example, the other day I was taking this photo:
And while doing so, I made the observation that I was sitting in a doggie bed in my mom's office. That's not artistic, that's reality. It's not beautiful, it is awkward.
I struggle to separate my experiences from the, what I am often told is beautiful, final products of my work. I cannot seem to rectify the two conflicting emotions within me. Half of me recognizes the difficulties I faced during the process that caused anxiety and grief, while the other half wants to acknowledge the simple beauty that can cause joy and even enlightenment... but to the audience, who sees only the art, the art is perfect and the process is a perfect, beautiful thing. They can't quite comprehend what flaws could have possibly existed before the beauty. Before I took any photography classes or what have you, I always wondered how great photographers could find such perfect scenes in such an imperfect world, but now I know the truth. Having been behind the camera for a while now, I realize that there are no perfect scenes. Photographers don't just stumble upon places others can never seem to find; they create them.
It is very hard to un-see what the artist has seen. All of the visual garbage that they left out or manually removed in photoshop.
I suppose the happiest photographers are the ones who can do this best. For those of you who can separate the creative process from the end product, you have my eternal respect.
I have been able to pick up on the patterns of successful artists that all photography-loving individuals should take note of, if not from my own personal experience, then from the good portion of my free time that has been devoted to stalking the beautiful photos of great photographers.
1. Editing. (It's not what you think.)
When I first started taking photographs I used iPhoto to "edit" them. Basically I over-saturated them and doused them in sepia tones and auto-fix adjustments. Looking back, it was truly awful. One day I was telling someone who was significantly older than me that I like to edit photos, and I thought they misunderstood me. They responded, "Oh I like to edit down photos, too. I had a whole bunch of them from a trip I took, and I just kept deleting the bad ones until I had a nice collection of good quality photos." At the time, I thought "that is EASY editing...I do the difficult stuff." But honestly, after having a couple years of experience, I believe that what he was saying was actually much more difficult than the "editing" I was doing, and I think that this kind of editing is the key to being a good photographer. No one enjoys seeing thirty pictures from one shoot; they get bored. Find the three best photos from a session and let them shine. What this tells people is that you have the self-control and good judgement to be a photographer. I know it is tempting at first, when you have done only two or three photoshoots to post 100 pictures. But chances are, if you do this, some of them will be sloppy, or not as polished, and their content will overlap and become uninteresting. So, moral of the story, editing: it's important.
2. Photoshop Skills. (It is what you think.)
First, bite the bullet and buy Adobe products, then take the time to learn how to use Photoshop, either through free online tutorials or paid classes; it is totally worth it. Your skills will make you a more valuable photographer, and your photos will be worth so much more if you can edit them. And trust me, any "bad" photo can be transformed into your best piece of art, if you learn to edit it. It isn't as scary as it looks, and once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to your old editing software.
3. Camera Knowledge.
The scariest thing for me when I was just starting out was shooting in low-light situations. It can still be tricky, but having control of my camera makes a huge difference (in anxiety alone). The last thing anyone wants is to hire a photographer who shoots on auto all the time. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the automatic setting, it's quite useful for fast shooting and capturing moments when the lighting is constantly changing.
It's okay to use it, if you know how to use the other settings, too.
My problem was I never wanted to take the ten minutes it takes to mess around with my camera and figure it out. I just wanted to play with my camera when I had a subject to shoot, and when there is a subject to shoot, there is no time for playing around with your camera. Don't be like me. Do it. Your camera has so many useful settings that I beg you to take advantage of, seriously begging.
4. Step Back.
This is such a useful tip; it should be number one. Most people want to really zoom in on their subject, but this should only really be the go-to or default setting for macro photos and close up portraits. Otherwise, the rule of thumb is step back! I almost always find myself in a rut until I step a few feet back, and when I do, I'm so thankful to my past self when I start editing the photos.
So there you have it. Four things that will make you an excellent photographer, just like the pros.
“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of
photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read,
the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams
Ansel, you've hit the nail on the head. No photographer is an island. And with this in mind, I give you, my inspiration.
1. Laura Makabresku
Laura Makabresku is the definition of a lovely photographer. She creates art so effortlessly; her work is always focused, calm, and quiet, yet it resonates with me in a very loud and emotional way. Her editing is always spot-on and absolutely flawless. Some of her photos are quite eerie, often featuring blood or animal heads; I get the feeling that her mind is quite tortured, but her photos are so crystal clear.
All of her photos have a feel to them-that's something I wish I had, an identity, so when someone saw one of my photos they would know it was mine. I really aspire to create as she creates. Check out more of her work here.
2. Andrea Murrow
Andrea is my cousin, and I've watched her take photographs from afar for a long time. Though we have lived in opposite sides of the country for most of my life (Alaska and Texas), we are about to live in the same state for the first time. I like the way she captures life; she takes ordinary things and makes them extraordinary. Not in a traditional sense, but in a very artsy sense. Although this is one of her darker photos, she has many other bright and beautiful pictures of people and things here.
3. Rekha Garton
Rekha, whether she knows it or not, inspired me to take my first self-portraits. She was one of the first photographers I was truly inspired by on Flickr. I remember reading that she had taught herself how to use Photoshop, and I was amazed by this. I attempted to recreate some of her photographs. Her work is really lovely. Sometimes simple, sometimes quite loud, and sometimes both, and that is what makes her incredible. Check her out.
4. Rosie Hardy
She pushes the boundaries of the real and surreal, and I absolutely love her work. If I had such dedication to finish a 365 project, if I only had the patience and the skills she has in Photoshop... Her portfolio is seemingly endless and full of marvelous work. Can't praise her enough. If you can't fathom someone with such a great portfolio, visit her site and be amazed.
All of these ladies are incredible, but they are not my only inspiration. More to come.
Every photographer has a collection of photos that she can't believe she once showed to others with pride. At this moment in time, every Flickr account or half-hearted attempt at a blog of mine looks like this, just filled with clutter and my least favorite pieces. So I decided I wanted to start a new living, breathing portfolio with which I would keep up. I would add new photos and take down old ones as I grow as a photographer.
Not only do I want to create a clean, organized portfolio worthy of something more than shame and embarrassment-I want to push myself to study photography like I study English or Calculus. I know I have to accept that this is a lifelong process, that I will be that girl with the camera constantly looking for that perfect photo-op that says something to me and maybe even someone else.
I'm venturing into new territory every day: buying new lenses, photographing new faces, and trying to keep things fresh.
This is the summer before my freshman year of college, and I am finally getting confident enough in my role as a photographer to start climbing out of my comfort zone and start exploring the great big world in which I live. My surroundings are about to change as I move from Texas to California, and I want to make something of my last summer at home where I have friends and family and locations that I know and love.
So that is my mission. More than anything else I just want to capture your attention.
Welcome to Lauren's Lens, where you can watch my journey as I emerge as an artist in a world of many greater artists.