Bright colors, sprinkles, and a shaved head: Photographer Lauren Crow enchants her 19,000 Instagram followers with an aesthetic reminiscent of vintage Big Golden Books. This year, the Portland-based 26-year-old brings us Intimate, a collection of portraits in people's closest moments. Just before the book release of Intimate, I spoke with Crow about her impressively relatable photography, the impact of social media on her artistry, and how she stays so damn cool.
HG: I came across your blog a couple of years ago and have been a fan of your style and your photography since. What kind of role has social media played in your popularity? Is it easy to manage your online presence?
LC: "Social media in some part has made my career possible. The internet has given me so much access to new ideas, inspiration, people, places, things. I’ve gotten models from Craigslist, placing ads, through friends on Tumblr, a friend of a friend on Instagram. I’m very, very thankful for the privilege of utilizing the technology we have today.
"It does feel relatively easy to manage all my social media, since mostly I post for myself — what I like to see, hear, and do. The only thing tiring is, sometimes, the amount of people who post hateful and unnecessary comments about me, my body, or my work. I make a lot of use out of the blocking buttons."
HG: The subjects in your photos always look like people I know — like people who could be my friends or my family. What about a person makes you want to take their picture?
LC: "That makes me so happy to hear. I love working with people who look real and relatable. I see so much beauty in these people and find them so much more interesting and exciting than the idea of perfection we are shown in so much media."
HG: Despite a lot of your photos being intensely intimate, none of your models ever seem uncomfortable. What kind of atmosphere do you try to cultivate in your photo shoots?
LC: "Most of the people I shoot are not models, just friends. For those I’m meeting the first time, I always try to make people feel safe, checking in, explaining that we don’t have to do anything they don’t feel uncomfortable doing. I think the fact that I am so honest and open with who I am via social media...people get a real sense of who I am/what I’m like, and feel they know me even before we’ve met."
HG: On top of being an amazing photographer, you’ve also cultivated this totally original and enviable style. What do you look for when you shop and how would you describe your aesthetic?
LC: "Oh! That’s wonderful of you to say. I am in love with my fashion sense right now. I lovingly describe my look as 'baby grandma.' I love bright colors (pink and lime-green are my faves), vintage patterns ('60s/'70s), lots of florals, soft lace, crochet, kitsch, and pizzazz. I like clothes that make me happy and sometimes make me laugh. My favorite compliment I get is that I look like I should be in a John Waters movie."
HG: What or who are the biggest influences on where you are now? Is there anything you try to hold constant throughout the work you produce?
LC: "I have long been in love with Nan Goldin’s work, with the sense of trust and intimacy and self-portraits, but even in my everyday life, I am amazed and inspired by my peers. Photographers like Vivian Fu, Elle Tice, Lora Mathis, Maisie Cousins, Laurence Philomene, Signe Pierce, Ruel Lara…SO MANY. Not only photographers, but so many other artists of so many other mediums!
"As for a constant throughout my work, I think softness and honesty are my two themes. It’s VERY important to me that I am being honest about who I am, body and soul. It’s important that I am being honest about who my subjects are and how they look. It’s important that people see us how we are, with all our 'imperfections.' So many of these things are what make us the most beautiful."