You may have heard me gushing about Lauren Weissler in previous posts and with good reason! She is a phenomenal photographer who I have had the honor of shooting with for the past few years now--even though she lives all the way across the country! Remember our 2016 Nest Lookbook? Yeah, that was her. Huge heart eyes.
This girl has some serious street cred, although she'd never admit it. She was a photographer for MTV and VH1 for 7 years and has snapped so many pics of celebs that it ain't no thang to her.
Her last visit a few weeks ago was a whirlwind two days with two completely different but awesome shoots. Check out the June issue of the Reno Tahoe Tonight (we made the cover!) to see photos from the western-inspired shoot. But first, here's your chance to get to know Lauren a bit more. This girl cracks me up. For real.
I guess we should start from the beginning, yes? I love that the way we met was so serendipitous! For those who haven't heard the story, how did we first cross paths?
I was in Tahoe, visiting a friend who moved here from NY. I love vintage (particularly mid-century stuff) so I asked my friend if she knew of a good local vintage store we could visit. She immediately recommended The Nest. I was a little apprehensive, as most of the stores I found were a little (costume-y) but almost cried a little when entering Tessa's store. This is no exaggeration....I immediately felt that at that moment I was moving to the Tahoe area only if just to furnish my new digs with everything in this store! Who cares if I had a good job in NY and all my friends lived there? I snapped out of it and went to the front counter to ask if they shipped to NY and how much it would cost. I immediately forgot what I was going to ask because I was met with one of the most beautiful and interesting faces I've ever seen. Another reason I was traveling was to capture portraits of local people and to try and orchestrate a shoot in an environment I wasn't used to...One that had more than one tree, no tall buildings blocking amazing light and the chances of having some guy peeing in the street in my shot were slim to none. I saw Tessa, stared like a creep at her while zoning out, thinking of all the cool shots I would get of her and asked if she had time while I was here to shoot. Unfortunately, I was leaving to go back to NY the next day so that didn't leave us much time. As luck or the universe would have it, Tess was going to be in NY the following week and we got to shoot. I'm still a creep though, because I photographed her in the freight elevator, because I couldn't rent studio space. Years later, and many miles apart, I consider Tessa to be one of my closest friends and one of the most beautiful people in the world (inside and out)!
Awww shucks. I'm blushing. But the freight elevator? I gotta admit, I would've thought MTV/VH1 would've had better facilities. Just sayin'... Anyway, tell us a little bit about your photography background.
I have always been interested in fashion photography. I remember, as a little girl, skimming through the glossy pages of fashion magazines, totally uninterested in what they were selling but interested in the faces of the models, the way the light hit them and the environment they were in. I didn't want to be the girls I saw in the magazine. I wanted to be a part of creating what I knew even then wasn't real but a bit of a fantasy world, luring people in with my imagination and how I could go about expressing it in a photograph.
Right out of college, with a degree in photography, I was on autopilot applying for jobs. It's hard out there, and there was-- and still--is a lot of competition. I applied for a Photo Editing position for an unnamed company, got an interview, found out at the interview that it was for MTV/VH1 and got the job. I started part-time and worked my way up to full-time "permalance" (that's fancy for we want you to work full time for us without the perks of benefits). I worked there for 7 years and got to experience some pretty amazing things. I mainly photographed reportage and portrait stuff of musicians and actors. It was a great and sometimes not so great ride, but I'm focusing more on finding jobs these days where I have more creative freedom. As much as it's amazing to shoot celebs, I often had just 5 seconds with them and had to use available light, but I did become pretty resourceful in terms of environment to get the shot.
What is your current focus or any other projects in the works that you're excited about?
My current focus is to do something I said in my younger years I would never do....dah dah daaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!! THE WORLD OF WEDDINGS! I had a reeeallly bad experience the one and only time I assisted on a wedding and swore I would never do it. Alas, I'm older and somewhat wiser and realize that at the time, I wasn't given the creative freedom I had wanted and I was still developing a style and learning how to connect to my work on both a personal and professional level. I have friends that are incredible wedding photographers, and a light bulb went off inside my head and gave me the idea to go into business for myself. I still would love to continue photographing the music scene as well. Both music and photography are what makes this little black heart beat faster. :)
Where do you want to go now with your photography?
I would love to go to a place where I can flex my creative muscles, make enough money to live comfortably, and be allowed to capture the souls of amazing people! By capturing souls...I mean on camera. I'm not a witch or anything.
What is your favorite piece of advice for people in front of the camera?
In front of the camera...I would say, WHEN IN DOUBT, SHAKE IT OUT! A lot of people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera. I'm one of those people. However, if you stay stiff and uncomfortable neither of us are going to be happy with the photographs. I tell my clients to literally relax their entire body, shake around like a lunatic and however your body falls naturally, is when I'm going to shoot. It works 90% of the time.
What about behind the camera for all those budding photographers out there?
Engage your clients! Ask them questions! Make them laugh! Give them direction! I don't know why I'm using all these exclamation points! The best way to make a client feel comfortable, is to share a little personal info about yourself. I wouldn't tell them that you're harboring a fugitive or you're in the process of going through your 11th divorce, but maybe why you got into photography? Focus on what you think their most unique or beautiful feature is and LET THEM KNOW! They may blush or get shy, but that could be a beautiful portrait right there...Plus, you may make someone's day!
What was your favorite part of our western shoot?
UMMMM! Everything! Ok, so as you know, Tessa, I would not stop talking about Westworld. It was a little unhealthy actually haha! I'm so used to shooting in an urban location. So, being around fresh air, amazing clothes, beautiful, friendly people, nature and being allowed to bring a bit of edginess to the creative process was my favorite. I also am pretty impressed at how quickly we....I mean you...pulled all of this together. I'm impressed and touched by how everyone is so willing to pull together and make things work! AHHHHH!! I should just move here already.
Yeah you should! And it was a team effort! You had the inspiration and the camera...I just put out a few calls and let the pieces fall into place, which they did rather nicely, I might add!
So, how can people get a hold of you if they want you to shoot their wedding/headshot/styled shoot, etc.?
They can contact my agent!!! Just kidding, I don't have an agent! Email is the best way to get to me. I can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a website with a contact page at laurenweissler.com.