Lauren Wakefield is a photographers photographer. She knows how to capture the emotional impact of a hand gesture. A special glance, A certain movement or characteristic of an individual that’s all their own. A stunningly beautiful woman herself she knows how to relax a subject and make them feel comfortable enough to shine through when she takes their photo. I stumbled across her photography on facebook. When I added a friend of hers whom I work with. She had taken some of the greatest candid photos of a mutual friend Stefanie Miller. I had no idea that the same woman who took those amazing photos was a regular that would come into five star and have dinner with her boyfriend. I thought to myself that this is an opportunity to learn from someone who is really gifted and at the same time promote her work. So I introduce to you through this interview the very talented and lovely Lauren Wakefield.
Hi Lauren. I have about twelve questions so here we go. In your blog you list that you have found true love. How has that affected the work that you do as a photographer?
In every single way. I now know love so I can see love. I was a very closed off, unemotional person before I met Gary and now I can see things in a completely different way. When I see a couple on their wedding day…I know how they are feeling. I can relate to them and their happiness. I think finding true love has helped me understand how rare and beautiful it is…and I think that shows in my photos. And on top of all that…Gary pushes me to be great. He is the reason I took the plunge and started my business. I was terrified and he convinced me to go for it. Starting a business is the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and having someone there to support me means the world to me.
There is something special going on when you take someone’s photo. You seem to engage them and shoot them when they are doing something unique. How do you do that?
My number one goal when I shoot anyone is to make my subjects have fun. If they are having a good time it will show in their photos. If they feel awkward and self-conscious it will show. I also make it a point to never put my camera down. It’s the millisecond after a couple kisses or that spontaneous laughter that makes for the best photos. I keep shooting no matter what. Even if I know the pose I have them in or the look on their face isn’t going to turn out well…I just tell them how amazing they look and keep shooting. Soon enough everyone falls into what’s comfortable and those are almost always the “money shots.”
How did you get started in photography?
It was kind of an out of the blue decision. I had spent my first semester of college at Northeastern University in Boston. I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do so I was an undecided major. Realizing Boston wasn’t for me I moved home and enrolled at Columbia College. I went to my first class, Photo 1, knowing absolutely nothing about anything. I didn’t know how to load film, I had no idea what an f-stop was, I was completely clueless. I had somehow decided I was going to major in Photography without any clue as to what photography really was. Luckily, I fell in love. I loved the magic of the darkroom (hated how tedious it was) and just couldn’t learn enough. Early in my second year I found my niche. I loved fashion. I loved creating crazy ideas for photos and then making them come to life. I guess I would say that’s they best way to explain how I got started. The second I walked in that classroom, I got started in photography.
Are there any other creative talents or hobbies that you love as much as photography?
Nothing that I love as much as photography. Photography is my passion and nothing can top that! I am also a graphic designer so I do enjoy that quite a bit. And I love to box…does that count?
Sure it does. Just don’t box me. You got the drive to knock me out.
What is your definition of success?
I think there are several definitions of success…as well as levels of success. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but when I look back at a year ago…I feel SO successful. Just knowing how far I’ve come helps me stay motivated and focus on what’s ahead. I think, to me, success is being completely happy doing what you love. It’s feeling fulfilled and waking up every morning excited with a smile on your face. That, to me, is success.
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out in photography?
You are the only you. It is so easy to spend countless hours comparing yourself to other photographers and people in general. Realize that no matter how successful anyone else is…no one can be you. Someone else’s path to success is not necessarily your path to success. Figure out what it is that makes you special, and focus on that.
Also, PRACTICE!!! Shoot everything. Pets, friends, trees, your significant other. Just shoot. I shoot Gary and Goose all the time. Shoot in different lighting situations…different times of day…just constantly shoot. That is the best advice I think I can give.
Do you shoot video as well for weddings? I know there are new features on dslr’s that have HD video incorporated into the camera. Do you use those features at all professionally?
I do not. I have enough to think about on a wedding day with photos…if I had to add video to the mix I might explode.
You’ve followed your passion and it has paid off. Do you think there is any legitimacy to the whole Secret phenomenon and the power of attraction?
I absolutely do. I am all about the power of positive thinking. This is embarrassing, but I have post-its on my bathroom mirror with all my goals on them. I look at them every morning and try to focus on making them happen. With that said, I believe working hard for what you want is the ultimate way to get what you want. You have to go after it, but it doesn’t hurt to put some positive thoughts out there along the way.
What is the most important lesson that you have learned from your parents about life?
Do what you love. My mom ingrained in me from as early as I can remember to, no matter what, spend my life doing what I love. It almost didn’t even seem like an option once I hit college. It wasn’t like…”I hope I get to do what I love.” It was more like…”I will do what I love for the rest of my life.” The challenge was figuring out what that was. This isn’t to say that I haven’t had some crappy jobs, but I always knew in the back of mind that I wasn’t going to settle. My mom showed me what it was like to live your passion and I knew I didn’t want anything less. OH…and also to always eat breakfast! 🙂
When you get married if you had a choice of any photographer in the world to shoot your wedding, who would you have shoot it and why?
I have a list a mile long of the people I would want to shoot my wedding. I look up to so many photographers and admire them so much. I think when the time comes, I will just know who the right person is.
What’s the most challenging project that you have worked on? And how did you get through it?
Hands down…my first wedding. I have done a lot of personal projects that were very challenging, but nothing compares to my first wedding. I was terrified. I had so much anxiety and nervousness running through me I’m surprised I didn’t puke. There is so much pressure that comes along with wedding photography and I was getting my first real dose of it. Luckily, it went very well. You can ask Gary, I was having nightmares and panic attacks the weeks before. It was horrible. I got through it by just believing in myself and trusting that I could do this. Once I walked into that hotel room I didn’t have a choice. This was happening. From the moment I decided to start my photography business to the day of that wedding (and still to this day), I was learning as much as I possibly could. I was frequenting hundreds of wedding photographer’s blogs, reading books, googling, going to workshops…you name it, I did it. I was a sponge. Had I not done that, I don’t think that day would have been anywhere near as successful as it was.