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Blog - Tasmania

5 Minutes with Lauren McKinnon

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Launceston's international wedding, engagement, conceptual portrait, newborn, child & family photographer Lauren McKinnon joins us on the blog to talk about genre hopping, the best online resources for professional development, her love/rage relationship with photography, African memoirs and the importance of being surrounded by like-minded folk.

Welcome to the Lei Momi blog, Lauren!

Lauren McKinnon Lei Momi Camera Bags photography blog

1. Tell us a little about yourself including where you’ve travelled and your love affair with photography:

Hi, my name is Lauren McKinnon and I am writing this in my living room at three in the morning, bouncing my three-month-old daughter on my lap, as she won’t sleep. I live in Launceston, Tasmania with my wonderful husband Ben and our cute little daughter Izzy. Life for us is a great big adventure. Most days you will find us out and about exploring this lovely State or in our veggie garden. I delight in finding new little coffee shops to enjoy and snuggling up in the evenings on the couch, watching a film.

I am the eldest of 9 children. What a childhood I had: I was never short a playmate and I am ever grateful for my free and wild upbringing. It was one where books took you places beyond your back yard and trees grew just to be climbed - this was the beginning of my relationship with creativity and art.

I didn’t fall in love with photography in the conventional way. I was always interested in art in one way or another but had never found a medium that felt right. I don’t’ remember the moment it happened or how it happened, but it did and I am grateful everyday for it. Photography has been like an old friend or relationship. I have moments of passion and great connection and then there are times where I never want to see another camera again!

In 2013 Ben and I had the great opportunity to travel throughout England, Scotland, Italy, France, Spain and South Africa. We drove all the way around Europe in a car (living out of a little hatchback) eating wonderful food, sleeping with the lights of the Eiffel Tower reflecting on the windscreen, waking up next to canals and watching otters warm themselves in the sun.

It was wonderful yet confronting: experiencing the contrast between Europe and South Africa opened my eyes and left a deep etch on my heart. We met many wonderful people from all walks of life, many of whom will remain friends for life.

I was also very lucky to meet Rosie Hardy in London: a photographer whom I have admired for many years. One of my most treasured and most painful memories was in South Africa when we visited a local school in a suburb that was experiencing a high level of gang violence at the time.

Ben and I spent the morning with children who hadn’t eaten since the morning before. Some of the children were subdued and non-responsive due to substance abuse (fumes from glue). We later found out that this was a way to dull the pain of hunger. Still they turned up to school everyday and tried to learn what was being taught.

It was such a privilege to be able to photograph these kids and watch them strive for a better future through education. I feel so lucky to do the thing I love the most as my job. I am grateful for the people whom I get to meet through photography and feel so privileged to be able to record the special moments in life that make us all so unique. Like Anne Truitt says:

"There's a small, still center into which conception can arrive. And when it arrives, you make it welcome with your experience." 

2. Photography is: A personal conversation between viewer and photographer, creating a chance to share and evoke ideas and passion.

3. Who or what influences your work most? I would have to say that Peter Beard has been a big influence on me for a long time. He opened my eyes to the world of visual journaling and that you do not have to be fixed to one genre. I have also always been fascinated with people and I take inspiration and influence from individuals as they live their lives.

4. Do you have any formal photography training? I studied photography for three years. This was a great chance to get use to lighting equipment and other resources. I also fell in love with analogue film during this time. It gave me a greater understanding of light and its role in creating images.

5. What kind of camera/s do you use?
I recently became a turncoat and bought a Canon 5D Mark III (until recently I was a Nikon fan all the way). It is true love!

6. Lens of choice? Canon 50mm f/1.2

7. Which editing software do you use? Lightroom and Photoshop

8. Of all the online and print photography resources available, which do you find most valuable? Creative Live Photography Classes. They are really worth looking into - so much information to be accessed.

9. Do you have an all-time favourite photograph you have taken? This photo is one of my favourites for a few reasons. It was taken on Maria Island just off the south coast of Tasmania at a fun-packed wedding. I spent many happy summers on this island with my family as a child. It was a spur of the moment, ‘please run up that hill for me’ kind of image where everything happened at just the right time. It’s moments like this that drive me forward to create.

10. If you could photograph any person, thing, place or event in the world, what would it be? My mother. She passed away from cancer some years ago. I would love to take photographs of her meeting her grandchildren for the first time, at Christmas or just simply living life. Life is so precious and if there is one thing I have learned it is to never take it for granted.

11. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photographs? It doesn't matter what kind of camera you own at first. The most valuable thing you have is your imagination. Feed it, nurture it and expand its capability!

12. You spend a lot of time behind the camera – how do you feel in front of it? I have never been one to put my hand up to step in front of a camera, but slowly, slowly I have come to get used to it and enjoy this new angle.

13. What is the most challenging aspect of running a photography business? Time management. I very quickly run out of time running a business and living life; understand your strengths and weaknesses; focus on your strengths, and seek assistance from your peers.

Connect with Lauren:

Facebook: /laurenmckinnonphotography

Pinterest: /laurenamckinnon

Instagram: /laurenamckinnonphotography

Flikr: /photos/lauren_mckinnon/

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