Inspire Me: Lauren Massie

We're excited to hold the second Sausalito Art Walk of the Summer! Meet Bay Area photographer and native, Lauren Massie. She's a storyteller at heart, and whether working on lifestyle, fashion or wedding projects or her own personal projects, her art school background takes center stage.

Visit us on June 14th, 4-8 pm for artist's reception. Meet Lauren, view her work, peruse jewels and join us for some bubbly and treats! We will also be offering 15% off all jewels during Art Walk.

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"My background in fine art influences the way that I work on all of my projects. I am always telling a story (mine or the subjects) even if it is a still life shoot or an inanimate object I am photographing. Diversity in my work is what keeps me energized and motivated. I love that every day and every shoot I do holds a new opportunity to deepen my technical craft, and engage with and explore new people or places. Traveling with my camera has always been a way for me to explore in a meaningful way. Capturing the people, events and landscapes of a new city is something that will never get old to me. I come back from each trip with renewed sense of purpose and passion for life."

 

Can you tell us a bit about the show you're hanging?

This particular show features work I shot while taking a two month solo road trip last August-October thought the southwest and deep south (primarily Louisiana and Mississippi).
Taking an extended road trip by myself is something I had been wanting to do for years. Particularly, the American South has held a lot of novelty and fascination to me and has always been a place I had wanted to explore. I really had no pre-conceived notions when I set out on this journey as to what specifically I would want to photograph. Part of the appeal of this trip for me was the freedom of returning back to an old style of documentary or street style shooting. Just capturing what I was seeing on a daily basis. The narrative became apparent to me once I was back in Louisiana and Mississippi. I spent a significant amount of time photographing in and around New Orleans, and then up the Mississippi Delta. I was blown away by the juxtaposition between the rich and vibrant cultural communities and the devastatingly depressing socioeconomic situation of many of the areas I was in. New Orleans is a city unlike any other…..it dances all night and embraces new people like no place I've been before. But within that are sad stories of continued race relations surrounding old archetypes of southern/white pride and a new integrated society. For example, while I was there, there were a group of protestors who made every effort to pull down the Andrew Jackson statue. Though they were ultimately thwarted by the police, the message they sent was clear: to take old heroes of the south off of their pedestals and and stop memorializing symbols of hate and racism
Another example….for all of New Orleans new cosmopolitan growth (there is a brand new Ace Hotel downtown in the up and coming warehouse district) the 9th ward continues to be left in demise. It has NOT been rebuilt. The majority of the folks that’d to evacuate and go live with family members in other parts of the state or country have still not been able t afford to come back and rebuild. The city is imposing fines on these peoples homes. For instance, if grass grows taller than a than 18", steep fines of $400-$600 per day are imposed. After these fines go unpaid for a length of time, the city can reclaim these peoples homes. Leaving them homeless and not able to return.
The contrast of this kind of systemic racism and the absolute joy and vibrancy of the people that live here, the music and food they make and share, is what I tried to capture during my time there.

What's your favorite camera to shoot with?

I love shooting with old film cameras, especially the 4x5. The larger than life detail in the negative/prints it is able to render are insanely beautiful to me. Having said that, it is definitely not a camera for everyday use, and thus, my appreciation for digital photography has grown over the years. Its easy with digital photography to shoot an absurd amount of frames. I tend to think of this as digital waste, and try to lend an intentionality to each click of my shutter. Integrating the mentality of shooting with film (intentionality due to limited film/resources) with the freedom of digital (mistakes are easily fixed) is something I’ve come to embrace and appreciate.

After High School you began studying Sociology in Colorado, but ended up Art School. What's your take? Art School...valuable or skip it?

I transferred back to the bay area (where I had grown up) to California College of Arts and Crafts. I was able to major and receive my BFA in photography. This experience was absolutely life changing for me. To be able to fully drop into an an arts education like that is something I think every artist yearns for. It was a time where my only job in life was to make art, take photos, discuss and critique with my peers and amazing professors (who were all active and established photographers in their own lives). CCAC gave me an unparalleled conceptual fine art education, and I was able to learn how to do more than just documentary or lifestyle photography. It gave me the tools to conceptualize project ideas and then manifest them. I still approach my work with this mentality. Telling a story is very important to me. 

What's your absolute favorite place in the Bay Area to shoot?

I am endlessly inspired by shooting in the bay Area. You really can have it all here…..from the vibrant streets and neighborhoods of SF, the architectural gems of the Bay (The Frank Lloyd Wright City Hall building in San Rafael is a an absolute dream location shoot) to the epic beauty of doing landscape work in West Marin. I feel blessed to live in a place that will truly never get old and always inspires me.

Album currently on repeat?

When I am able to hit pause from a 24 hr stream of Fleetwood Mac, I have been loving Kristin Diable’s new album “Create your own Mythology’. I was introduced to her by some dear friends while I was In New Orleans and fell in deep love with her sultry soulful voice. It transports me back to that time and place. 
 

Lauren wanted to give a little shout out to the people in her life who embraced this project and opened doors and opportunities for her while shooting in New Orleans and Mississippi:

Mike and Denise Zolg-my angles and keys to the city
The Fabulous ladies of Saint Claude Society
Sakura Kone
Dave Schwartz and the Shack Up Inn
 

Thank you for sharing, Lauren! We hope you can make it out to the opening On Wednesday June 14th!