The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Lauren Dunn

Author: Kristen McCloud / Photos: Lauren Dunn
02.22 / MISSBISH Photography Workshop

Photographer: Lauren Dunn

Tell us about your style of photography. How did you develop this style and what do you enjoy shooting the most?
My style of photography is very colorful, yet dark. I'm really inspired by the contrast of deep blacks against color. It allows the work to feel exciting, but not explicitly happy. I suppose I developed this style because of my fascination with human emotion. Our feelings and emotions are complex; sadness, wonder, happiness can all be felt at the same time. I try to capture that energy when I shoot. I enjoy shooting people and cityscapes the most. Cities like LA and New York have their own personalities that evoke different feelings. Cities and people are constantly changing; I think that's what draws me in the most.

Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
I feel the secret to capturing the moment is really communicating with the subject. I come from a film background and am also a director, which allows me to take a more story-driven approach to shooting. I talk with the people I'm shooting at length, try to figure out what makes them tick, and find different ways for them to express how they are feeling. I also think movement and music help with getting people to open up.

Where are you based? What makes home a good base for you?
I'm currently based in LA. I was born and raised here, and went to college at USC, so it felt right to stay put. I know the city like the back of my hand, which makes it easy to find locations and inspiration. I have traveled all over the world for work and LA still stands out. Everyone who comes here is dreaming of more and it's inspiring to be surrounded by that.

Tell us about your gear, what camera do you use? What lenses do you prefer? Post-editing?
I shoot on a 5D Mark III. She's my baby! I've been thinking about upgrading, but I'm so happy and comfortable with my current camera. I haven't been able to let go just yet. Lately, I've been shooting on a 35mm L series. I noticed that whenever I had my zoom on, I'd always end up shooting at 35mm or 50mm. So I'm investing in those prime lenses now.

How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
I've always done photography as a hobby, but I never expected it to turn into a career. While studying directing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, I took a ton of film history and cinematography courses. Immediately I became obsessed with color and light theory, framing, and movement. Photography is a natural extension of that. While I love directing and creating moving images, there's something so powerful about photography and capturing one specific moment in time. You can't edit around a mistake or recreate it perfectly again, it just exists.

Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot…
One of the most memorable photos I shot was of Elley Duhé in her hometown of Dauphin Island, Alabama. It's such a unique, tiny island with so much beauty and wildlife. Elley was truly in her environment and I was able to capture such an authentic portrait of her. Her strength, vulnerability, and beauty really shined through. The photo ended up being used as her single artwork cover.

Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
In college, I was lucky enough to meet several photographers, Morgan Phillips, Zach Bresnick, and Jared Chambers, to name a few. They were working, traveling and shooting all the time. We'd have photo adventures and spend a day exploring. This was before I even owned a camera. I would watch them shoot, and then try my own version on my iPhone. They never made me feel left out and were always so encouraging. I learned to always take risks and to look at the world in a different way. They wouldn't see just a building or a person, they would see how light was naturally interacting, how shapes and color would play against each other. It was a new way of seeing the world for me.

Can you give us three photography tips and explain each?
Trust your instincts. Everyone can learn the technical side to photography with enough time. But no one is going to shoot a subject in the same way. So shoot the way you want to.

Be influenced by other artists, but don't copy them. It's easy to accidentally infuse other people's ideas into your own work. Sometimes, you don't even know you're doing it. The key is to actively make it your own, and not try to re-create something shot for shot.

Shoot constantly. It's the fastest way to learn and to explore what photography means to you.

Finish the sentence...

If I weren’t afraid I would… get a tattoo!

I wouldn't be where I am today if... it wasn't for the support from my awesome, creative mom.

I've been listening to... SZA on repeat. CTRL is a perfect album.

Kids these days... have so much more opportunity to connect to art, music, fashion, and culture earlier on.

I look and feel my best when… I get 8 hours of sleep and finish all my work before the deadlines! You'll never see me happier.

When no one is looking I… wear an oversized sweatshirt, eat gluten-free waffles, and sing around my apartment.

Traveling... is essential. I have met so many wonderful people and experienced incredible cultures around the world. It has truly opened my eyes and shaped me as a person.

I respect... all the hardworking women in my life.

I would recommend interviewing... @alexandra_gavillet she's a fellow female photographer/director who inspires me every day! We've been internet friends for a while and recently met up for dinner in LA. She's a boss lady!

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